Event Review: Orville Peck // The Van Buren 4.19.2022
Photo: Jace Melnik
Orville Peck: The Bronco Tour & the refreshing revival of the rhinestone cowboy.
Following the release of his sophomore album, Bronco, this month; and his debut at the legendary Coachella music festival, Orville Peck made a stop early into his 2022 headlining tour, right here in Phoenix, Arizona - the same place he left off when the COVID-19 outbreak abruptly ended his previous run in 2020. Two years later, while veiled in one of his signature handmade fringe masks to conceal his face and joined by 1,800 fans in a sold out venue, Peck celebrates his sophomore album hitting #1 on Billboard Music’s Current Country Chart mid-show. The quirked-up, queer cowboy’s return to Arizona was nothing short of mesmerizing; he is a performing artist at his core, with a unique way of making every person in the room feel exactly what they need to feel, most often with a delicate wave of the hand to line up with his passionate vocals.
To kick off his set, he walked out with his band to the outro of Bob Dylan’s ‘All The Tired Horses’ playing from the venue speakers. Tonight he was in full rhinestone and rose-embroidered western wear, minus his pants, but even his Stetson was floral and shining under the lights of the packed venue. As the violin faded out and the overhead stereo finally went quiet, he quickly introduced himself and we jumped into his song ‘Daytona Sand’, an upbeat ballad (and also the opening track of his recent release, Bronco) . Orville Peck’s energy is truly captivating from the moment he walked on stage and it followed us the rest of the night. He played 17 songs in total, making his set just over an hour, but somehow it felt short in the moment.
Perhaps it was the deep bond and clear, mutual respect shared between him & his band which we as a crowd really got to bear witness to in moments like: ‘Legends Never Die’, a song from his 2020 EP Show Pony, which originally features the 5 time Grammy award winning pop/country legend Shania Twain. For this tour, he is sharing it with Bria Salmena (guitar/keys for Peck’s touring band, and lead singer of Canadian Post-Punk band Frigs). He speaks about her with admiration, and they perform together with incredible chemistry. We also experience intimate moments between the singer and his touring guitarist, Duncan Hay Jennings (lead guitar in Frigs) who joined Orville Peck at the piano for another ballad. Well, really, Jennings was sitting on the piano with his guitar. This time, it was a slower track called ‘Queen Of The Rodeo’, off of his 2019 debut album Pony. Which notably, he introduced by urging the crowd to attend a drag show at some point in their life: “Drag Shows are for everyone, they really are. And tip your local drag queens!” (He’s right. You should. They are.) Later, the show ends with his song, ‘Take You Back’ (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call) which features a long whistle solo, and that night, had Peck laughing as he asked the crowd to stomp or scream along to help carry him through it. Before he walked off stage, he made sure to give a rose to a fan near the front who was also wearing roses that night. After that, about two thousand pairs of cowboy boots filed out of the venue. (Side note: Isn’t it funny to think anyone outside that night could’ve been the man behind the mask?)
So, even if you like “everything but country music”, if you have an opportunity to attend a show on Orville Peck’s The Bronco Tour. I highly recommend you do so. With a set including his song ‘Dead of Night’ which was featured in Season 2 of the HBO hit series Euphoria, and having just recently opened for Harry Styles at Harryween in New York City, and influences ranging from Dolly Parton to Sonic Youth, his discography really does have something for everyone and it is impossible not to be captivated by his mystique and the atmosphere he has created for this tour.