There were only two people in the Knitting Factory – or at least, it felt that way. Paige Wood and Steven Dies held each other’s gaze with blurred, ruthless eye contact, until the moment grew so intimate, it almost felt like you shouldn’t be watching. Steven’s jaw was hanging slack in a rebellious snarl as he dug his fingers into his guitar strings and watched her react. Paige allowed her eyes to close softly as she arched her back into every groove of the beat; straight rock and roll, dark and dirty. The crowd watched them, transfixed, and The Peach Kings played on as if no one was there.
The chemistry – and the tension – between the two is a big piece of what makes The Peach Kings such a memorable live show. When we spoke to them backstage, the tension was in hiding, and the duo was, unsurprisingly, right in synch. “The more I think about it, looking back, music was kind of always there,” said Steven. “I guess I was always kind of headed towards music. It just didn’t seem like a career goal for me ever. Just sort of a fantasy.” Paige nodded in agreement.
And maybe that’s the secret sauce. For a hard-working band like The Peach Kings, who just toured in support of Cyndi Lauper and haven’t let up since, the fact that music still feels like a fantasy is likely part of what keeps their performance so fresh. And already, there have been more than a few moments where they wanted to pinch themselves. “So Bill Murray came to Charleston, and I almost passed out,” Paige laughed. “And then after we met him, [our manager] comes in and tells us that we’re going to perform with Cyndi for the next show.” Having grown up in Texas where Cyndi Lauper was a fixture in the home, the opportunity was unreal.
“The first time we did the show with her, we just went really quick and learned the chords. It was a little rocky; a little too much of a karaoke vibe,” said Steven, explaining the origins of their “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” collaboration. “And then next show, she’s like ‘Okay, we’ve gotta make you guys sound like you guys. Paige, I can’t sing like you, so you shouldn’t try to sing like me. Steve! Play the guitar, play the chords. Oh – this key’s not working, let’s move down to F-sharp. I fucking hate F-sharp,’” he recapped in a perfect Cyndi Lauper voice, Paige chiming in on her F-sharp complaint with the exact same tone. “So we basically just took over the front of the song. It was just Paige and I playing and singing, and Cyndi would come in and harmonize with Paige, and then the full band would kick in, and it would be like the original version. It was really awesome.”
“It went really well, and it got a great reaction, so right after, she came up to me and went like this,” said Paige, extending her hand in the customary fist-bump position. “And I… grabbed her fist,” she confessed, cracking up at her own awkwardness. Based on how strong The Peach Kings sounded at the Knit this week, it probably won’t be long before they find themselves on the other end of that starstruck exchange.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley