Peter McPoland Perfects a Punk Performance
// Photo by Meredith Blanchard
At the top of the marble staircase at the entrance of Boston’s Royale was no unfamiliar sight for a concertgoer: a large floor, filled with fans and a stage. On the stage, however, was something quite unusual — a life-sized statue of a pig standing dead center, surveying the crowd with an expression that ever so slightly resembled a smirk.
Behind the pig in enormous yellow letters, a screen screeched: “PETER MCPOLAND.”
A fitting vignette for the 22-year-old American singer-songwriter Peter McPoland, who is currently on tour to celebrate his debut album, Piggy. It is his third headlining tour.
As soon as McPoland began with “Mold,” the audience roared. The fans were excited to be there and made it known. As was McPoland; he couldn’t help but break into a grin. When he asked the audience, “Are we feeling needed? Do you know how much I missed you?” in reference to his song “I Need You,” the answer was a resounding yes — it was clear how much McPoland had missed Boston.
McPoland then proceeded, quite literally, to put his entire body into the performance. He jumped up and down with the audience on every single beat, all while belting in his signature tinny voice.
He transitioned from jumping and dancing to strumming when he donned a guitar for “String Lights.” He transitioned from strumming to shredding during “Eloise,” when he got down on his knees and let the guitar do the singing for a while.
At times, it seemed like McPoland was struggling with his mic and guitar, fiddling with them while he sang. McPoland later explained what was going on — his guitar stopped working, but he forgot how to play “Dog” with the new guitar, and then the new guitar stopped working with the pedal board.
Thankfully, despite the instrumental issues, the visual design seemed to be at its best. From red lights flashing during the lyrics “You’ve seen the fires in the west” during “Eloise” to the strobes during “Dog,” to the psychedelic backgrounds projected onto the background of the stage, it was an immersive lighting experience.
Much of McPoland’s recorded music has pop and indie notes, with zippy percussion, some electric guitar, and clean belting vocals. Live, however, familiar songs transformed into near-punk covers. It made perfect sense — McPoland’s aura, the raspy bass tones of his voice, and much of his fan base all scream punk. Extra-loud percussion and guitar allowed McPoland to showcase his music’s personality in a way that a fan could never get from the recorded version. Hopefully down the line, McPoland will explore this more and release music that is more experimental or alternative. He would surely knock it out of the park.
The punk-skewedness of his performance did mean that there were times when his voice got lost behind the band’s sound. For fans who enjoy McPoland’s music for its acoustic aspects, his live performance removed quite a bit of gentleness from popular songs like “Dead Air.”
Otherwise, McPoland had a mesmerizing stage presence. He was extremely goofy and enjoyed interacting with the audience, whether it was accepting a stuffed dinosaur named “Greg” or a cowboy hat (which, for half of a song, he teased whether or not he would actually wear before he ultimately did). Toward the end of the set, McPoland screamed, “You’re going to look out for each other, right?” and dove straight into the crowd. He concluded with a solitary song for his encore: “Digital Silence.” He ripped off his shirt, leaving it, and everything else he had, out on the stage.
It was a performance full of energy, from both the audience and McPoland. It will be exciting to see what he’ll do next. The Piggy tour concludes November 19 in Asbury, New Jersey.
// Meredith Blanchard ’26 is a staff writer for Record Hospital.