The halls of Hollywood’s historic Fonda Theatre reverberated with the boundless energy of 22-year-old Peter McPoland on Nov. 1. Riding the waves of his latest album “Piggy,” the concert was a testament to McPoland’s metamorphosis from folky-pop roots to an edgier, punchier sound, transporting the audience on a sonic escapade.
Before performing one of his tracks, McPoland reflected on his journey.
“First there was ‘Romeo and Juliet’ [Peter’s Room Records, 2021]… But before there was anything, there was this song,” McPoland said to the crowd. “I wrote this song just to celebrate the song that follows. It means so much to me that I wrote a song for a song. If you were to ask me my favorite Peter McPoland song, it would be this song… This is ‘St. Peter.’”
Despite a recent injury, McPoland proved that “the show must go on” and certainly did “break a leg.”
“In Toronto, they said, ‘don’t jump over the barricade and into the pit,’ And I jumped over the barricade and I bruised my heel,” McPoland said. “You’ll notice the boot isn’t on. In Chicago, they said, ‘don’t jump over the barricade. You’ll break your left foot.’ I did and landed on my bruised heel and broke my fifth metatarsal … All of this to say, I’m jumping over the barricade and into the pit.
“No one’s judging you here,” McPoland told the crowd. “No one’s looking at you except for me and I’m looking at all of you. Lose your f—ing minds down there. Do everything until breaking your fifth metatarsal.”
The album “Piggy,” along with McPoland’s earlier tracks, created a roller coaster of emotions. The singer-songwriter revealed that the album’s title drew inspiration from the novel, “Lord of the Flies,” an acknowledgment of his emotional turmoil following his parents’ divorce.
“I don’t know where I pulled ‘Lord of the Flies’ out of because I hated that book in school,” McPoland remarked during an MTV Asia interview. “Piggy starts out as a really sweet kid but when he moves into the forest, or the city in this case, he has an untimely demise and it was a little rougher and an angrier end for Piggy.”
This context is certainly brought to life by the sound of the album through its intense soundscapes, filled with McPoland’s passionate vocal variations. As he managed to laugh, scream, cry and whisper in tune, he sent listeners on a euphoric time-traveling journey.
“He’s crazy in the best way,” said Greg Gatsby, a music producer who attended the concert. “In a way that Mötley Crüe was. It feels like we just walked out of 2023 and into 1983 and I love it.”
McPoland’s performance channeled the raw energy of Los Angeles’ Sunset Blvd. In its prime, reminiscent of the kind of authentic rock & roll haunting the halls of the Viper Room.
In an unscripted moment, McPoland flung his guitar pick into the electrified crowd, playing on undaunted. When he spotted his own bleeding thumb — visibly stained even from the venue’s rear — he pushed on, turning what might have been a minor mishap into a badge of rock ‘n’ roll authenticity.
“Can I trust you? Can I trust you?” McPoland questioned, before joining the audience in the pit, a testament to the connection he felt with his fans. Though, perhaps the crowd’s reassuring cheers was not all it took to convince the musician to join them.
“What I value very highly, ” McPoland said. “Is that every time I play a show here, I look back on everything and see some of the same faces. On the first tour, it was a really sh–ty show and they came back. The second, pretty sh–ty and they came back and Twenty One Pilots was a great show and they came back… so, God bless you Los Angeles. Big big big heart… I’ll see ya next year?”