Review: Drag Queens, Country Vibes, and Orville Peck Make for a Perfect Night
Some concert nights are just special. Everything falls into place and the performances feel grand. Such was the case when Orville Peck and The Bobby Tenderloin Universe packed (and I mean packed) Lincoln Hall for a night of eclectic and modern country. Having seen Orville Peck earlier this year, my expectations were unbearably high and some how Peck, his backing band the The Frigs, and opener The Bobby Tenderloin Experience exceeded them.
The two band lineup was an excellent match up. Both bands offer a bit of subversiveness to the typical idea of country acts and bands in general. The Bobby Tenderloin Universe and Orville Peck feel like bands inside movies and TV, whose expertise and legend seem too perfect to be real. And yet they are real and deliver on their mysterious and mythical auras that follow them. As The Bobby Tenderloin Universe made their way on stage there was a sudden rise in the crowd’s attention and within moments of playing, it became obvious why.
The Bobby Tenderloin Universe filled up the stage with eight band members all dressed to impress but maintained a laid back feel. One of the members, the tambourine player, laid down on the ground behind Bobby Tenderloin, who was stationed at his keys throughout the set. The band’s sound is straight-up country, but the lyrics lean on modern sensibilities, like songs about unfollowing some online. “Sandpaper One Side, Rubber on the Other” was a great highlight that kicked things off incredibly well while “Big Fat Mama” felt like a tongue in cheek throw back but with all the sincerity in the world strapped on to it or the oddball “I Need a Lickin” that equal parts crass, catchy, and fun. I can’t recommend Bobby Tenderloin Universe enough for its off kilter brand of country.
Orville Peck is a showman and that was on full display during this stop on his tour and not just by him and his band. The crowd was out in full force, many coming dressed as the masked cowboy himself, other in full drag regalia. His Empty Bottle show had a few drag queens, but nowhere near the number or with the enthusiasm as this night out. And quite honestly it added a ton to the experience. The room felt alive with anticipation and when Peck and his band came out it felt like a show much bigger than the confines of Lincoln Hall.
Peck played the majority of his debut album Pony for the sold out Lincoln Hall, truly giving them full taste of his sound. “Queen of the Rodeo” came early in the set, blazing forth Peck’s love of drag, calling it the last subversive art form. “Buffalo Run” and its exuberant finish seemed all the more explosive in Lincoln Hall’s frenzied lights and matching crowd. In addition to his amazing songs, Peck peppered a few choice covers throughout the night. He and Bria Salmena completely killed a rendition of “Something to Brag About”. “Ooh Las Vegas” later in the night was a great throwback that really shined under Peck booming voice.
The proper set finished off with two songs that really capture the spectrum of Orville Peck’s sound. “Dead of Night” languishes in dark timbres before flashing bright with Peck’s high notes in the chorus. It’s a song full memories and past love that stays with you well past its end. He followed that up with “Take You Back (The Iron Hoof Cattle Call)”, the anthemic country explosion that had the crowd jumping for joy.
Orville Peck and the Frigs ended the night with another cover for the encore. The crowd was at its height of excitement, knowing full well they had seen the best Orville Peck had been and this final song would be the cherry on top of the night. Peck presented it perfectly, giving the Dixie Chick’s “Goodbye Earl” its due as the crowd swooned for the bands talent once more, leaving satisfied with one of the best shows of the year.