It’s funny that Ned should post an article on summer festivals past, given that I was attending a summer festival of my own this past weekend. The Siren Music Festival (sponsored by the Village Voice and various folks) offered the usual festival fare, albeit with a decidedly corporate slant. There were clothing kiosks (sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch), there were CDs for sale (via Tower Records), and there were transvestites (schilling for Budweiser – it’s quite the sight, seeing a pair of righteous drag queens say in unison, without a whit of irony or self-awareness, “And remember – This Bud’s For You!”)

My friends & I made plans to arrive at the festival by about 2 PM, meaning we would miss the first two performers – Enon (a group made up of former folks from Brainiac & Skeleton Key) and Peaches. “Who is Peaches?” my friends ask. I offer a quick sketch – 30-something woman, Canadian, ex-teacher, raunchy, straddles anything rideable, bad fashion sense, old-skool hip-hop, drawl/sneer, gives her crotch more mimed self-love than 100 Madonnas. (Check out the front page of her website, if you don’t believe me.) I also offer a small lyrical sample of “Fuck the Pain Away”, to complete the description (the only lyric from the song I accurately remember) – “Suckin’ on my titties, like you wantin’ me'”

With those few strokes, I was able to make Peaches out to be the worst thing to smack popular music upside the head since Gary Cherone besmirched the relatively good name of Van Halen. However, even the turgid pace of the New York Transit System couldn’t keep us from catching the ass end of Peaches’ set. Said woman described above (with a frizzy, unkempt head of naturally curly hair) was found alone on a large stage, strutting to and fro, dropping her carnal knowledge with only a lonely drum machine to back her up. Said woman referenced above wore an outfit you could probably find in any number of ultra-chic new wave videos circa the early 80s, or in any Fischerspooner production – red fabric cut at sharp angles, covering all the pertinent naughty bits, with fishnet stockings and high heels. And guess what she ended her set with (getting up on one of the monitors, shaking her groove thang)? Peaches finished the song in odd fashion — first, coughing up the chorus (which is nothing more than the name of the song) at normal volume, then quietly (for the kids), and the SCREAMING the chorus a couple more times before yelling something about censorship (and Canada, perhaps), spiking the microphone, and leaving the stage. The crowd cheered, sort of, I think.

Ever since then, I haven’t been able to get that damn song out of my head. I’m boiling water for soup, and I’m sucking on my titties. I’m perusing the Web, and it’s like sex on the beaches. Hell, she’s even reading my mind, as I file away my incomplete application to college – stay in school, ’cause it’s the best. I even go so far as to play the song in a vain attempt to get the damn thing out of my head. Didn’t work. And why, I’m asking myself, why is this damn thing stuck in my head, when it’s obviously so damn bad? Justification — it’s bad, sure, but so are most porno movies, and there’s an odd thrill – non-sexual thrill, I should say – watching something so contrived and clumsy unfold (or, if you prefer, collapse). And you can’t help but watch sometimes. It’s one thing to watch Traci Lords earn her paycheck on her back; been there, done that, ho hum, eject. It’s another to watch her suffer through the script to get to what she once did best — THAT is where the true entertainment value lies. (Conclusion: Peaches = dialogue in a porno. QED.)

As bad as the song was in a live context, it’s just as good, if not better, on record. (To hell with my intellectual gag reflex — if a song gets stuck in my head for two days’ straight, there must be something good happening.) The amateurish rapping (complete with a muffed rhyme in the bridge), the simplistic thuggery of the one & only verse (punctuated by a punch-drunk ‘uh, wha?’), the drum-machine farts and claps, the single-minded pursuit of fuck (complete with some contraceptive suggestions, so you don’t get fucked by the fuck, for fuck’s sake) — all these things sound so much better when shoved through a speaker cone, instead of a monstrous PA system. It’s Licensed to Ill, made with tits and poon! Better yet – it’s the Yeastie Girls fronted by Iggy Pop wearing camel lips! Prepare to be stupified. It’s a slice of moronic genius that would (in a perfect imperfect world) be on the radio 24-7. If only a GUY were singing it. About a GIRL. No such luck for radio execs — instead, the guys are off trying to be all silky smooth, tearing & slamming with their string-laden Curtis Mayfield funk. Worse yet, they’re going for the ‘funny, shy and introspective’ demographic with off-kilter homilies about unapproachable hotties in supermarkets. Meanwhile, Peaches is taking the righteous parts of Liz Phair’s ‘Flower’ to heart (among other less acceptable places). She’ll take you home and make you like it. Submit while you still have some dignity left.