Masked minstrel Orville Peck isn’t your grandfather’s country musician, but he plays what sounds like your grandfather’s country music.
Peck appeared late Saturday on the Palomino stage at the Stagecoach country music festival strutting to Bob Dylan’s “All the Tired Horses” in a light blue suit with a gold-fringed veiled mask – the performer never shows his face on stage or in interviews – and a white Stetson.
“Hello, I’m Orville Peck,” he said before launching into “Daytona Sand,” while alternating between Johnny Cash-esque baritone vocals and a screaming style of singing.
It started with a small crowd and eventually more people followed Carrie Underwood’s headlining performance.
After “Turn To Hate”, he told the growing crowd that he wasn’t going to talk too much, that he was going to play a lot of “bangers” and if they wanted to talk to him, “DM me”.
Some highlights of his performance were the song “Lafayette” with lyrics such as “I remember someone said ‘There’s no cowboys left’ to a crowd of Stetson-clad
men and women. He also performed “Legends Never Die”, which is a duet with Shania Twain, who did not appear, but was backed by her guitarist.
Peck took to the piano to perform “Drive Me, Crazy”, which he said is about “truckers in love”, and dedicated it to someone in the audience who replied that he was a trucker.
Peck has been well received over the previous two weekends at Coachella, but as a campy, openly gay performer, he’s an outsider to Stagecoach who doesn’t fit in with mainstream country music and its performers, who proclaim so often a “without fantasy”. attitude.
Despite his underdog status, Peck quickly gained notoriety in the music industry. Beyoncé showcased it while promoting her Wild West-themed Ivy Park Rodeo collection in partnership with Adidas. He teamed up with beloved drag queen Trixie Mattel to record a cover of “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. In 2019, he performed at a fashion show in Miami wearing a Dior Men outfit.
It is said that behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story. Peck wasn’t too forthcoming, but did reveal a few details: He’s 34, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, grew up in Africa, Europe and North America, was a model child and actor, and is a member of the LGBTQ community.
But let’s not forget that there are benefits to putting on a mask for a musician. They don’t have to talk about speculating about their identity or discussing past musical or other projects they’ve been involved in. It also removes barriers to creative and artistic freedom. Anything that a musician cannot sing or write as himself can be expressed through a different character or personality.
KISS’ Gene Simmons isn’t exactly a demon. Offstage, he is an ultra-capitalist who publicly shares his love of money and often shares his political beliefs. But when he’s on stage all in makeup, spitting fire and singing lines like “I gather darkness to please me,” we forget all that.
Whatever Peck’s motivations for donning a fringed veil and cowboy hat, it doesn’t matter, because it’s already paid off. Since releasing his debut album “Pony” in 2019, he has gained an audience from all walks of life who may not all like country music. Its fans are gay and straight, young and old and are made up of music lovers, hipsters, drag queens, performance artists and more.
As for what he did at Stagecoach, the whole tent was full by the end, and Peck was the diverse, perplexing, artistic performer the festival and the future of country music desperately needs to reach new audiences. .
Well done Orville.