Orville Peck | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
NON-COMM Recap: Orville Peck makes a strong case for the “Yeehaw Agenda” on the PRX stage
Yeehaw is having a moment. With Kacey Musgraves snagging the top prize at The Grammys, “Old Town Road” being the biggest song in the country, and artists like Solange and Mitski embracing cowboy imagery, country’s future has never seemed brighter. Toronto-based Country crooner, Orville Peck, treated NonCOMM attendees to a taste of that future. With his bulletproof voice, punk -inspired playing, and masked face, Peck put on a rousing and fringe-filled set.
Peck and his band, which included two bassists, a drummer, and one guitarist/synth player/vocalist, arrived in their Western best. They each had a bolo tie and many wore cowboy hats. Peck dawned one of the BDSM meets cowboy mask-hat combos. With fringe and leather covering his face, one might expect his music to be similarly inaccessible. Luckily, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With a voice reminiscent of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, Peck delivers every lyric with supreme conviction, continuously intriguing his audience more and more.
The set opened with “Dead of Night”, which also opens Peck’s debut album, Pony. Peck sang the dramatic torch song as pristinely as he does on the record. His backing vocalist joined only for the line “see the boys as they walk on by,” perhaps to highlight the novelty of a country song being about a gay relationship. Whether or not it was intentional, it defiantly meant something to this gay cowboy.
The somber “Big Sky” started slow, and dripping with melancholy. By the time Peck reached the second verse, it exploded. Each member of the band played vigorously. Through this, and the thunderous stampede of “Buffalo Run” they highlighted Peck’s punk history. Meanwhile, “Take You Back” was played like a straight-up country jam, complete with a whistled intro and outro. With your eyes closed you might think you had just walked into a hoedown.
“Turn To Hate” was the set’s true highlight. The track, which recently got a video with a cameo from Mac DeMarco, documents Peck’s struggle with the freedom and loneliness that come with being a lone rider. It is fiery and theatrical, like the best country songs usually are. With it, Peck proved that he’s got a place in, if not at the forefront, of country’s future.
Check out photos from the Orville Peck set, and listen to an audio archive below. Peck will play The Foundry on Thursday, October 10th. Head to the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and more information. Pony is out now via Sub Pop.
Dead of Night
Turn To Hate
Take You Back