Female rocker, P!nk, is currently wowing audiences with her international Funhouse Tour. Notorious for their over-the-top theatrics and in-your-face style, P!nk’s live performances rarely disappoint. P!nk manages to balance an extreme exertion of femininity with a hard-core rock style that goes beyond the intensity of many male rack performers.
I walked into the packed stadium to the sound of P!nk singing a cover of Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.” Before even finding my seat and looking at the stage, I could hear the overtly sexual sound of the performer’s voice; rather than singing she mouthed the words with a deep, breathy whisper. And then the stage came into view. I watched as P!nk slowly and sensually crawled across a pink couch on center-stage, lifting a leg here and there, straddling the back of the couch at one point, and quite literally acting out the words of the song. I reached my peak of audience member discomfort when hands that were not those of the performer reach out from within the couch to touch any part of P!nk’s body that was within reach. Perhaps my discomfort stemmed from the non-discreet depictions of masturbation on stage while several hundred people watched, or perhaps it was the seven-year-old sitting next to me, enjoying this all-ages performance. While P!nk truly and confidently claimed her femininity during this number, it was in stark contrast with many other aspects of the show.
The most notable contrast between her extreme femininity and her depiction of the hard-core, masculine-centered rock genre came in her performance of yet another masturbation-themed song, “U and Ur Hand.” The story line of this song follow a woman at a bar who is not interested in the advances of a man and informs him that it will be “just you and your hand tonight.” P!nk abandons her breathy voice and replaces it with an assertive, frank voice, more in like with the masculinity of the rock genre, yet making her feminine strength known by all who listen. Throughout the number, P!nk grabbed her crotch, giving off the tone of mocking the hyper masculinity of the male character in the song. And with each repetition of the phrase, “you and your hand tonight” she raised her arm in a male masturbatory motion, often accompanied by a smirk of feminine superiority, showing her power to withhold sex, thus “forcing” the man to masturbate.
While P!nk does have many ways that she displays both her femininity and associated strength, she also reveals some insecurities about being a female in the male-dominate rock scene. Rock is traditionally associated with masculinity and authenticity. P!nk’s performances mock masculinity and embrace theatrical productions in combination with intimate acoustic numbers. The over-the-top theatrics, complete with elaborate costumes, trapeze artists, and the most impressive stage I have ever seen, come off as a way to prove her fearlessness and show that she, has indeed, made it in the world of music and is now free to indulge in extreme displays excessiveness. I think it is also a way to go above and beyond the performance styles of her peers in the rock genre. Not one to forget her fans or overlook the importance of music for its own sake, P!nk also shared an intimate (if one can be intimate while performing to a stadium audience) set of songs at the stage’s end just in front of the floor of fans. Free from costumes, dancers, the elaborate stage, and prominent props, P!nk played a few songs, obviously more personal songs, while playing her acoustic-electric guitar. P!nk was able to embody both the hard-core style and authenticity of rock while exerting her femininity in one seamless performance.
Official Funhouse Tour Preview Video