How Orville Peck is Encouraging Fans to "Be Who They Are" on His Bronco Tour

As part of E!'s Backstage Pass, country star Orville Peck shared it's "crucial" for him to connect with audiences—and hand out roses—on his Bronco tour. "It's the only way I'd want to do it," he said.

By Emlyn Travis Jun 03, 2022 1:00 PMTags
Watch: The Highwomen on "Making More Spots" for Women in Country Music

Congratulations! You just scored a backstage pass to the hottest tickets in town. 

After COVID-19 put a pause on live entertainment, your favorite artists are ready to hit the road and entertain audiences safely with brand-new tours and experiences. And regardless of where you are, we're offering an all-access ticket to every must-see concert of the year. Welcome to E!'s Backstage Pass

Each night on Orville Peck's Bronco Tour, the show begins—as all country concerts should—with a "Yeehaw!" Then, band in tow, the masked singer sweeps onto the stage like a warm Delta breeze, bringing with him nearly two hours of rollicking hits, swoon-worthy ballads and a hearty dose of his trademark "glorious sadness."  

Since hitting the music scene in 2017, Orville has kept his identity wrapped under the tight band (and often long-flowing, accompanying fringe) of a mask. While details of his nomadic lifestyle have seeped through over the years—he was raised in South Africa, trained in ballet and classical theater and cut his teeth performing on London's West End and at small saloons in Toronto—the real way to get to know the country star is beyond the physical: it's through his tales of rip-roaring adventure, earth-shattering loss and almost romances from his extensive travels. 

In fact, back in March 2020, Orville and his band were "around a week" into a "massive, international tour" when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered their months-long plans and led the artist to a self-described "emotional and psychological reckoning." But, as the dust settled around him, Orville's second album, titled Bronco, came galloping out of the haze.  

Inside Orville Peck's Bronco Tour

The 15-track record, released on April 8, allows an unflinching glimpse into the world of the mysterious lone ranger with a heart of gold. Filled with ruminations on loneliness ("City of Gold"), queer longing ("Kalahari Down") and the ever-present itch to hitch the next ride out of town ("Hexie Mountains"), Bronco's unabashedly vulnerable examination of Orville's innermost thoughts has made performing these songs on the road a "super cathartic" experience for the singer.

Nate Peterson

"I get choked up on stage a lot, which is something I never used to necessarily do very much," Orville exclusively told E! News. "It sounds really cheesy and maybe a little cringey, but I really force myself to be super present in the shows now and really remember what I'm singing about. What the lyrics mean to me and what they meant to me when I wrote them. And what they probably mean to someone else in the audience." 

That openness has definitely struck a chord with audiences across the country, who are flocking in droves to see Orville perform "The Curse of the Blackened Eye" alongside older, fan favorites like "Queen of the Rodeo" and "Dead of Night." The singer noted that he and his band are currently "selling out the whole [Bronco] Tour" and that the venues they perform in are "growing every time."  

"I'd grown up being so used to playing bars and dive bars and saloons and stuff like that—150 people clubs," he explained. "Cut to late October last year, we did two nights in Madison Square Garden with Harry Styles. We played Coachella this year and Stagecoach…now it feels right."  

Nate Peterson

While it's "thrilling" to watch cowboy hat-wearing crowds grow, it's important for Orville to maintain a personal quality to the show no matter the size—especially when it comes to the more "intimate songs" on the setlist.  

"There's a moment in ‘Kalahari Down' where it gets very quiet and it's just me," he said. "There's something so crazy feeling about that—just to be whispering some very vulnerable lyrics [with] an acoustic guitar like I would in my bedroom alone. Instead, it's in front of a sold-out show to 5,000 people in Denver."  

As the tour rolls on, Orville has noticed a shift within himself too. "I talk a lot more in between songs—that's just something I never used to do," he said. "I like to talk about what the songs mean to me and get really vulnerable and just be accepting and gentle with myself." 

"It makes me feel good onstage [and] I can tell it makes the audience feel good," he continued. "It's like a very compassionate exchange that happens with these songs in particular."  

For an inside look into Orville Peck's Bronco Tour, keep scrolling. You can get more details on how to purchase tickets here.  

“Haven’t Been Out in So Long”

Outside of the larger crowds and concert halls, Orville has noticed that there's a "different spirit" to live performances after a two-year halt due to the pandemic. "The thing I've noticed is there's such a release in the audience," he said. "You can see people are so happy to be back at shows and maybe just have a different appreciation for being at a concert. I know that I have that. My band has that." But some things, thankfully, haven't changed. "People [still get] dressed up in all their cowboy gear and their homemade masks," Orville said, "which is really wonderful."  

“Same Songs, New Night”

With nearly seven weeks of touring already under his belt, Orville has his on-tour routine down pat. As the bus arrives at the theater, he's "always the first one up," adding, "I'm usually in the back room drinking iced coffee and probably reading or looking on Instagram." After soundcheck, the singer spends an hour signing hundreds of vinyl records and posters. While their stylist begins preparing the band's outfits for the evening, they'll typically "watch the opening band [Teddy and the Rough Riders], maybe have a cocktail" before holding their pre-show ritual. "We all get in a circle and have a little funny check in with each of us," he shared. "Then we all shout, ‘Yeehaw!' And we go on stage." 

“Writing Out a Song On My Daddy’s Guitar”

While he plays piano and multiple guitars throughout the show, there's one instrument in particular that holds a special place in Orville's heart: his white Gretsch Falcon. "It was my first guitar that was gifted to me by a company," he said, but that's not why it means so much to him. He explained, "It was given to me at a time where I absolutely couldn't afford it." The artist once leased a guitar in high school that "I had to give back because I couldn't pay it off." It happened again during the first Orville Peck tour, when he had to return his Tennessee Rose Gretsch because he couldn't make the payments. "This guitar is very special to me, because it's the first guitar I really owned in a way of my own," he shared. "It was my favorite, iconic guitar. So it's very, very special."

"I Haven't Seen My Band in Awhile"

According to Orville, he and his bandmates all played "in separate bands in the DIY scene" and have been together from the beginning. "I think coming up together as friends and actually, more importantly, as family at this point, it makes a really big difference in the performance because we all love each other so much," he said. "We all have such a specific, different dynamic with each other. Every night it's such a joy to be on the stage together, performing these songs." He added, "It just feels like I'm getting to travel around with my best friends and make music together and tell my stories. It's really lovely."  

"Don't Deny What Your Poor Heart Needs"

Since the release of Bronco, Orville has been making a concerted effort "to be supportive and gentle with myself" as both an artist and an individual—especially while on tour. "I think I used to be someone who worked myself to death and never felt like it was good enough," he confessed. "I was always trying to obtain this perfection that was kind of impossible. I would surround myself with people in relationships that would reinforce that I wasn't good enough." Now, he's focused on trying to "treat myself a little nicer mentally," adding, "That's what helped me make Bronco and so it's now the energy I want to carry forward after making that album, performing it and just evolving as a person."  

"Bronco Running Wild"

Growing up in the performing arts, dance has always been a huge way of self-expression for Orville. At any given show, concertgoers can spot him kicking high into the air mid-guitar solo or gleefully shuffling his feet. "Sometimes I watch videos and I'm like, ‘Jesus, stand still!'" he jokes. "I just can't! I grew up a dancer. I've always loved to dance." Another outlet for the star is fashion. He sports new, country-inspired threads each night on tour (and recently at Balenciaga's Stock Exchange showcase). "My idea of being a performer encapsulates the performance and outfits and the whole thing. I never considered that that should take away from any kind of sincerity or authenticity of the music," he shared. "I think, if anything, it elevates the authenticity and the sincerity." He added, "It's no shade to anybody, but I'm just not the kind of person that could go out in jeans and a t-shirt and stand there for an hour and a half. I'd be bored out of my mind." 

"See The Cowboy Sing"

When asked about the diverse audiences—often comprised of all ages, genders, sexes and sexual orientations—that attend his concerts, Orville references a fellow country legend: Dolly Parton. "[She] unifies a lot of people within the country space," he explained. "And I think similarly, because I bring a big theatricality to what I do—I try to be really vulnerable and compassionate and just accepting of who I am—I think that draws in a certain safety that people can recognize that they can be who they are at my concert, no matter what." There's no "elitism" at his concerts, Orville shared, adding, "You don't have to be a big country fan. You don't have to be LGBTQ+. You don't have to be anything, you can just come as you are and feel like you're included and encouraged to be a part of it." 

"Sit Alone Together"

For Orville, connecting with the audience is "crucial." The seasoned performer noted that he can "very easily slip into choreography" and "perform the exact same thing every single night without actually making a real connected moment." To combat that sleepwalking feeling, he often requests to have the house lights up so he can interact with the audience throughout the show. "It's really important for me to look people in the eye and genuinely have a connection. See how people are feeling. See what people are doing…it forces me to stay present," he said. "And I know that when I'm present—I'm actually actively telling the story rather than just performing—it makes me put on a better show. It makes me feel better as an artist, as a person."  

“Roses Are Fallin’ For You”

One way that he connects with the crowd is by spotlighting individual fans and giving them a rose. As Orville tells it, the tradition harkens back to when he would hand out a single rose to a special fan when performing his 2019 hit "Roses Are Falling." Now, after noticing that roses were still on their rider, it has since expanded to "handing out multiple roses throughout the show to various people." So, what gets someone a rose? "You get awarded a rose if you sing all the lyrics to the song really passionately or maybe you're just wearing a really cool outfit that I can tell you put a lot of work into and you're feeling yourself," he said. "Or sometimes it's someone I can see is having the time of their life and maybe I can tell they're alone and they're just so happy to be at the show and I want to make them feel special."  


One of his favorite rose moments happened during one of his recent performances at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. "Halfway through the show, I spotted at the very back balcony—so quite far away from the stage and quite impossible to get the rose to—these two gentlemen and they had a little girl with them who was about 11 or 12 years old and she was having the time of her life," he said. "At the very end of the show, we do a song called the ‘Iron Hoof Cattle Call' and I stop and whistle. I grabbed a rose in the stop and I was like, ‘There's someone back there and she looks like a small fan. And I want to try and get this rose back to her.'" After 10 minutes of deliberations, Orville said his tour manager "grabbed one and he ran all the way up" to deliver the rose to the young fan, adding, "it was such a beautiful moment."  

Want even more backstage access? Then be sure to catch up with T-Pain on his wild Road to Wiscansin tour. Or, get to know the inside scoop on Madison Beer's Life Support tour