The sight of dancers dressed as giant vaginas and the sound of thick, scuzzy beats coming from deep within Douglas Park lured festival-goers to Riot Fest’s Riot Stage Saturday afternoon. Onstage, Canada-born electro-punk artist Peaches (Merrill Nisker)—who had already shed a red, oversized, half-abominable snowman / half-Muppet jumpsuit to reveal a flesh-colored, anatomically-detailed bodysuit—commanded the growing crowd. By the next song, “Sick in the Head” (from her 2015 album, Rub), she was already in the audience, or rather, standing on top of them while letting out a ferocious, primal scream.

If punk means being free, weird, and confrontational there are few better examples anywhere—including Riot Fest—than Peaches. While the festival’s early club days were void of electronic-based artists, it’s striking that even since it scaled up, headed outside, and diversified its musical offerings, 2017 marked Peaches’ maiden voyage to the Chicago mainstay.

Since she emerged in the 1990s, Peaches has let her freak flag fly; charting new territory in music with her hybrid of rap, electronic, rock ‘n’ roll, and performance art, transgressive, smart (though hella raunchy) lyrics, and unyielding celebration of feminism, queer culture, and both sexual and personal freedom. She’s toured with Queens of the Stone Age (Saturday’s headliner) and Marilyn Manson, collaborated with artists including Iggy Pop, Christina Aguilera, and Feist, and has influenced countless others (notably, Lady Gaga borrowed more than a few notes from the “teaches of Peaches” in her early days). In 2012, she even wrote and starred in a rock opera titled Peaches Does Herself, and in 2016 her song “The Boys Wanna Be Her” was chosen as the all-too-fitting theme song for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Despite her artistic and commercial success, Peaches’ provocations and witty (but biting) critiques of cultural obsessions with beauty and gender roles have kept her firmly straddling the line between the cult and mainstream; a perpetual outsider and badass in a saccharine, pop-centric world.

Even so, the themes and messages of Peaches’ music, especially feminism and support of gender and sexual diversity, have risen to the foreground of mainstream discourse over the last few years—cultural shifts exemplified by events such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in June, 2015 and the now-iconic Women’s March that took place on January 21, 2017. So, it stands to reason that the timing of her Riot Fest debut had even greater potential for impact.

Through the course of the set, energy continued to heighten while Peaches traded off vocal licks, dance moves, costumes, and rock ‘n’ roll swagger (“As I like to say, Jesus walked on water—Peaches walks on you.”). The faux sexual acts and orgies between Peaches and her increasingly naked dancers weren’t exactly family-friendly, but the joyous, sex-positive, and humorous spirit they brought to their performance made it hard to imagine, even in such a large crowd, that anyone could be offended.

Though the message didn’t quite get through to everyone—I had to change locations at one point due to nearby douche-bros loudly objectifying the dancers (I hope they liked the trio’s play on Human Centipede soon after)—the vast majority of the crowd was totally into it. Looking around during the hilariously sophomoric chorus of her song “Dick in the Air,” for which several fans waved their own inflatable phalluses overhead, it was hard to spot anyone without an ear-to-ear grin.

Peaches blew the crowd away one last time with a rousing, and literally champagne-soaked, rendition of her seminal, “Fuck the Pain Away.” Walking away from the Riot Stage, the best part off all may have been knowing that, especially given the number of generations in attendance, lives had been forever changed for the better for having been there.