Orville Peck, Sandy Amphitheater, July 23, 2021
Photos and Review by Tiffany Mull
“How many of you been to a drag show?” There were lots of cheers and clapping. “If you haven’t been to a drag show, I recommend you go. But be sure you tip them. If you don’t tip them, they get really pissed off. You don’t want a drag queen pissed at you, trust me. Thanks Gem is a drag queen from Canada, and she used to be pissed at me. We’re friends now, but she makes me tell everyone that she has a Venmo. See? I’m still scared of her.”
Orville Peck is the best thing to happen to country music since Patsy Cline. I used to think I had a blanket hatred for country music before hearing her sing. Since then, I’ve found a few artists in the genre I can appreciate, but none who could elevate it to the level Patsy did—until Orville. Listen to his soaring vocals in “Hope to Die” and “Queen of the Rodeo,” his impressive range in “Dead of Night,” and his low-rumbling baritone in “No Glory in the West” and “Big Sky.” His live performance did not disappoint. We were even treated to his first ever live performance of “Born This Way.”
Orville revels, unironically, in Western camp: cowboy hats, flashy boots, spangly show outfits, even a fringed lone ranger mask. Orville took the hokiest aspects of Western culture and made them cool again. (Were they ever not cool?) He’s very conscious of his presence on stage. His songs are accompanied by exaggerated-for-the-stage gestures that are clear from the nosebleeds. The crowd reacted to Orville’s expressive theatrics by hooting and waving cowboy and trucker hats.
Peck opened with “Summertime” from his 2020 EP, Show Pony. He put down his guitar to sing “No Glory in the West.” He picked it up again for the slow, meditative, bass-reverberating “Big Sky” that swelled into slow, earth-shattering crescendos. “I love truckers, and that’s why I wrote this song. I hope you all enjoy it,” he said, before taking the piano for “Drive Me, Crazy,” during which his lead guitarist hopped cheekily onto the lid to sit, cross-legged, as he played.
Like a lot of country music, Peck’s songs circle around loners and outsiders. His music is informed stylistically by the likes of Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, but it’s also informed by his background in punk music as well as musical theater. His music videos are captivating, aesthetic gems that use Western tropes to explore dark, melodramatic themes.
The evening was perfect for an outdoor concert, with the sun setting dramatically to stage right and dusk settling during “Dead of Night,” the perfect complement to our crooning cowboy’s Western-Gothic ballad (his falsettos are to die for). He had complete control of the audience. They stood when he wanted, they sat when he wanted, they clapped when he wanted, they whistled when he wanted, and they left when he wanted. After performing “Roses are Falling,” he flung long-stemmed reds into the audience. After the encore, he said “Take care of one another. Can I get a ‘yeehaw’?” Everyone shrieked, “Yeehaw!”
Roses are Falling
Turn to Hate
No Glory in the West
Nothing Fades Like the Light
I Ain’t Living Long Like This (Waylon Jennings cover)
Drive Me, Crazy
Legends Never Die
Dead of Night
Queen of the Rodeo
The Iron Hoof Cattle Call (Take You Back)
Born This Way
To follow Orville Peck on social media, listen to his music, or see more of his tour dates, go to orvillepeck.com