By DONNA BALANCIA
Peaches, Chk Chk Chk, and Of Montreal put alternative performances in the spotlight at Music Tastes Good festival in Long Beach.
The lineup was eclectic, keeping the tone of the first Music Tastes Good Fest founded by the late Josh Fishel. It’s a well-organized and compact version of popular anchor festivals of the Southern California music scene.
The two stages — The Long Beach stage and the New Orleans stage — are far enough apart that the music does not clash. But close enough so that people could get a taste of the wide-ranging lineup without too much effort.
Los Lobos, Dengue fever, and the Old 97’s each played on the Long Beach stage, clearly underscoring the diversity of music that this two-year-old event for which the new fest is known.
Chk Chk Chk
Meanwhile, Chk Chk Chk, which did not go unnoticed despite their billing in the lineup with the printed name “!!!” held the crowd at the New Orleans stage spellbound. Frontman Nic Offer taunted the crowd and then crowd-surfed into the adoring hands.
But it was of Montreal and Peaches who ran away with the show.
Of Montreal whose frontman Kevin Barnes dresses like a woman, and Peaches, with her woman-power motto, clearly came to play. Barnes with his outstanding music and Peaches with her wild performance and costuming captivated the fans.
Both performers have been at this game a long time. Barnes has endured many lineup changes and challenges in his 20+ years as the mainstay of of Montreal. His gender-bending appeal gives way to a true musical genius and the stage antics underly immense talent. It’s amazing that Barnes has not cracked the mainstream despite his efforts and even a documentary was created about him, The Past is a Grotesque Animal.
He’s releasing a delux vinyl re-issue of Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer.
Wild Creativity at Music Tastes Good
Peaches blew away the Music Taste Good crowd around the New Orleans stage in a dusktime performance that covered several costume changes and was pretty wild. Not wild by Peaches’ standards but for some viewers, the woman-power performance was a little over the top.
“It wasn’t my cup of tea, and I was trying to protect my wife from this,” said Albert Manuel. “I’m sure some people liked what she was doing but it was a little too in-my-face.”
Manuel was commenting the overt sexuality of the Peaches show, which was tame by the standards of many of her regular fans in attendance.
Peaches’ Performance – Controversial
“I love Peaches because she’s so outspoken and her songs are crazy,” said Ellen Suchee. “She is the most unbelievable performer out there.”
Peaches is another one who hasn’t cracked the mainstream, but for obvious and different reasons. Her NSFW performances are controversial with her screaming about body parts sometimes in their clinical terms and sometimes in street colloquial.
But if you’re talking technique, techie talents and upbeat and fun performance, Peaches’ picture would be in the dictionary.
Creative Fans Also
Peaches has made a successful living out of telling it like it is when it comes to gender and sexuality. Accompanied by two semi naked women spare for pasties and her synthesizers, Peaches clearly devotes whatever money she makes back into the show. Her costumes are gorgeous and clever and her performance routine maximizes and underscores the “look” of Peaches.
It is no surprise this amazing musician, whose visuals clearly dominate, is a former art teacher.
The Old 97s, while not exactly in the mainstream, brought it pretty close with some upbeat fun country-rock tone and a lot of smiles. The late addition to the festival clearly added a different flavor to the mostly alternative-indie performers.
The headliners did their respective jobs with standouts Ween and Ride taking center stage.
Ween played on a few songs they rarely perform, including an extended version of “Voodoo Lady,” which appealed to longtime fan Ben Barnes.
“I like that they did ‘Puerto Rican Power’ and ‘Albino Sunburn Girl,'” he said. “Those two are really rare. And I like that they opened with ‘Take Me Away.'”
Ween which reunited Gene Ween and Dean Ween last year after about five years apart were in good form. Gene Ween is clearly the Tony Bennett of the punk set. He sings with a lot of heart regardless of the genre the guys perform.
Dr. Octagon and Ride
Ride, which helped usher in the shoegaze era put on a strong performance. Shoegaze — and Ride — clearly influenced a lot of the music popular today. The UK-based band was overlooked in the U.S. when this country was paying attention to Nirvana and other ’90s grungers and now Ride is making up for lost time.
Dr. Octagon and his white scrubs-clad crew — including Professor Zorlon — wrapped up the weekend with their big interplanetary style and energetic performance with tunes including “Blue Flowers.”