Peach Tree Rascals impress with nostalgia at Great American Music Hall

Photo of Peach Tree Rascals at their concert
Nick Quinlan/Staff

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On the Bay Area leg of their “I Can’t Wait” tour, music collective Peach Tree Rascals played with their hearts on their sleeves. Having started as a high school band in San Jose, singer-rappers Issac Pech, Tarrek Abdel-Khaliq and Joseph Barros triumphantly returned to their home court on Oct. 27 with creative director Jorge Olazaba, producer-mixer Dominic Pizano and producer-guitarist Jasper Barros.

San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall teemed with a friendly community of indie pop fans chattering by the stage and calling to each other across the venue. With strong ’80s energy, pop-rock opener Mills boomingly entered as purple, blue and orange beams bathed the room. Mills danced to his upbeat tracks, spinning on stage. The floor shook with powerful bass through his tasteful Kanye cover and closer “Hollow.”

A rock riff played as bright lights strobed, and Peach Tree Rascals took to the stage suddenly and thunderously. The group launched into their first song, “OOZ,” to screams from the audience, and the band’s name flashed on the screen in a Rugrats-esque font. 

Live, the song swelled with incredible freshness — largely because the Rascals were obviously thrilled to be performing in person again. As the hall heated up through “Fumari” and “Change My Mind,” Abdel-Khaliq shed a sky blue jacket to reveal a homemade T-shirt with “SF” stenciled on. The members voiced their appreciation for their homecoming crowd, repeating “you’re all so beautiful” to the crowd.

Throughout the set, the band threw yellow, red and green balls emblazoned with happy faces and signatures into the crowd. The high mood in the hall was bolstered by the band’s captivating stage presence and the venue’s lighting. Pech’s frisky rapping was consistent throughout the set, and he particularly dazzled during “Change My Mind.” Shifts in lighting accompanied sunny songs “Mango” and “Summa,” refreshing the audience with sparkling orange and yellow tones. Abdel-Khaliq especially impressed with springy, smooth vocals as he took the lead in “Mango.”

Pech, Abdel-Khaliq and Joseph Barros crossed the stage, keeping fans on their toes. Their fans were more than willing to show how much they loved them back, always straining toward the stage, leaping to catch balls and cheering the members’ names as they neared their sections of the crowd. 

During his solo in “Things Won’t Go My Way,” Joseph Barros closed his eyes and leaned into the bouncily optimistic tune, his vocals astonishing. “I’m Sorry” and “Pockets” featured the members jumping onto the crowd divider, waving their microphones for fans to sing into and taking selfies and videos mid-performance. 

As the artists effortlessly shared the spotlight, the eager, earnest bond between the bandmates was tangible throughout the concert. Between songs, the crew would fall into a half-hug half-huddle, looking at each other and out into the crowd as if they could not believe where they were. 

After previewing their characteristically cheerful and chirpy new single “Song From Hell,” the set moved onto slower, head-nod-inducing songs “Plus” and “JoJo.” The band displayed an intimate vulnerability with their fans — one you only get with a rising musical group. The bandmates began tearing up on stage when they recognized that several of their parents were in attendance, and a wave of phone flashes lit the venue.

Emotions reached even higher heights as Joseph Barros took center stage with his first live guitar performance for “Oh Honey! (I Love You).” His rich vocals stunned, as did the upbeat support from his bandmates who stirred up the crowd. The wholesome song closed and the venue faded to black as the band members quickly fled the stage, making the crowd work for an encore. 

When the group rushed back on stage for “Mariposa,” the scene felt like the end of a coming-of-age movie. Colorful lights gleamed, fans shouted lyrics, bandmates hugged and cried as the song transitioned into a set of home videos and old photos of the ensemble.

Truly, the venue was filled with a bunch of sentimental rascals. The air was laced with love as the band exited to cheers, tears and applause. The screen shone: “Welcome home, Rascals.”

Contact Katherine Shok at [email protected].org.