Country Queer

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Rodeo: Orville Peck’s ‘Bronco Tour’ Is A Magical Oasis Of Inclusion at MSG

By Flisadam Pointer

Orville Peck performs at Fox Theater in Oakland, CA photographed by Chris Bogard, June, 2022

Ed. Note: Today, CQ welcomes guest author Flisadam Pointer of Envert Media who had the pleasure of attending Orville Peck’s show Tuesday night in NYC. We wanted to get the review up quickly, especially in light of his announcement yesterday afternoon.

Orville Peck is the country music superstar I’ve been waiting for. This claim may seem over-inflated, given the fact that the “Dead Of Night” singer hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, and not any rural region of the United States. However, Peck’s fringe, leather, and buckaroo boot-filled costume cosplay is just an outward display of his inner cowboy. The entertainer’s Bronco Tour is the musical manifestation of that ideology. Orville Peck’s Bronco Tour summer run’s opening night was the magical oasis of inclusion off the beaten path of conservative whiteness. 

Returning to Madison Square Garden in New York City, this time in the venue’s smaller section, The Theater, Orville Peck had a chip on his shoulder. Juxtaposed to The Cure playing in the mainspace next door at their core, both acts represent different sides of the same emo coin. Keeping in mind the large crowds gathering for the rock royalty and his past showing at the venue as the opener for Harry Styles in 2021, the question quickly became: Could the lone wolf’s howl cause a big enough ripple in the grand scheme of things? By all accounts, from the roaring 5,600-capacity room, Peck succeeded. 

Unfortunately, I arrived after the opener, Ingrid Andress’ set, was finished. On a positive note, the wait for Orville Peck to take the stage left me eager for anything he had to offer. As the theater’s house light abruptly shut off, the stage bulbs clocked in to laminate the room. Although the stage’s setup lacks in comparison to the arena, Peck, with his band comprised of supporting vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bria Salmena, drummer Kristopher Bowering, and bassist Duncan Hay Jennings made the most out of it. 


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Opening with his song “Big Sky” off of his critically acclaimed 2019 debut album Pony, the big city felt more like a homely ranch in the Midwest. This theme was consistent throughout the night as Peck would rotate between warm floodlighting and colorful fluorescent streams, metaphorically displaying a depth of personality. On the outside, country music can appear monotone, but there was nothing steady about his show. Despite only having two full albums in his discography, Peck’s showmanship didn’t lack in way, shape, or form.  

When experienced live, Peck’s vocals go down as smooth as an aged barrel of whiskey with jabs as potent as a shot of tequila, making Patrón’s sponsorship of the tour into divine alignment. Going a step above, the company crafted a custom beverage for the tour, ‘Patrón Silver Ranch Water,’ with which the singer proudly gave a toast onstage. It was quite refreshing to see an adult beverage company unabashedly throwing their support behind the queer community.

Peck’s crushing songwriting penetrates the psyche of even the most stoic spectator. Even from behind his fringe mask and the tilt of his embroidered cowboy hat, he couldn’t stop the water works from glossing over his eyes. Traveling from song to song, Peck does his best to hold it back but during the trio of “Outta Time,” his cover of Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way” and “Legends Never Die,” the hurt transforms into a remedy. In conversation with the crowd, the entertainer reassured the queer community that regardless of ongoing legislative attacks, we’ve every right to not only exist, but to thrive – drag performers included.

Enter Nashville-based drag entertainer Alexia Noelle Paris who took the stage while Peck and Co. took an intermission. Cognizant of the fact that in her homestate, lawmakers are actively attempting to quash this art form, Paris lipsynced to Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” as if the expression’s faith rested squarely on her shoulders. Peck being openly gay in country music is an act of rebellion within itself but to use his platform to amplify other queer artists and artforms is the camaraderie I wish occurred more often. 

After returning to the stage, the audience was strapped back up on to the stallion for bump road highs and lows kneaded amongst five tracks. In its peaks, I twirled in my bell bottom jeans, shook my rhinestone bandana, and clapped my hands as if a sermon was being delivered. Contrastingly, during the valleys of Peck’s performance I had to restrain myself from running to the stage to give him a warm embrace. By the closer, “Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call),” I was ready to trade in my b-boy pants and sneakers for a pair of leather chaps and riding boots. Dolly Parton ushered me in. Odetta Holmes served as my representation confirmation. Shania Twain proved that I could make it uniquely my own. Now, Orville Peck has demonstrated to me that country music can be embracing when the right person chips away at its “traditional” beliefs.

Usually, following a show, I’ve a long list of critiques with the featured artist. Surprisingly, I have none for Orville Peck’s Bronco Tour stop at The Theater of Madison Square Garden. From the tycoon of emotions riled up in the setlist, thoughtful crowd engagement, deliberate shifts in lighting, sharp wardrobe motif, and the burst of spontaneous choreography, it is evident that Orville Peck plays for the stage he desires rather than the one he’s booked on. Simply put, the musician is ready for bigger venues.

Overall, second only to contemporary Christian music across the Bible belt, country music wasn’t expecting a “happy homosexual,” as Peck told the crowd to enter the scene, guns a blazing. Nor did it carve out any room for him. Instead of lashing out against the conservative overseers, the recording artist blazed a trail of love roping in listeners along the way. Orville Peck’s Bronco Tour was a wild emotional rodeo lassoing the audience in with gut-wrenching stories of hardship and sideshow attractions of joy to recharge. The prize bull has guided country music outliers to the magical oasis of inclusion, off the beaten path of conservative whiteness that the genre upholds.  


  1. “Big Sky”
  2. “C’mon Baby, Cry”
  3. “Turn to Hate”
  4. “The Curse of the Blackened Eye”
  5. “Lafayette”
  6. “Drive Me, Crazy”
  7. “No Glory in the West”
  8. “Outta Time”
  9. “Born This Way” (Lady Gaga cover) (The Country Roads Version)
  10. “Legends Never Die” feat. Shania Twain
  11. “Daytona Sand”
  12. “Queen of the Rodeo”

Brief Intermission

  1. Lipsync performance by Alexia Noelle Paris to Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now”
  1. “Any Turn”
  2. “All I Can Say”
  3. “Hexie Mountains”
  4. “Kalahari Down”
  5. “Dead of Night”
  6. “Bronco”

Flisadam (Fah-la-sa-daam) Pointer (she/her) is an entertainment journalist, arts education advocate, and author based in Newark, New Jersey. In her work, she aims to amplify marginalized stories and entertainers across artistic disciplines. Follow her socials: @flisadamp.