ACL Live Review: Kacey Musgraves

Texan crossover commands her masses

While clouds obscured the physical glow of golden hour, Kacey Musgraves’ ebullient performance at the American Express stage on Sunday radiated enough to compensate throughout her pre-headlining 60 minutes.

Photo by Gary Miller

When chants of “Ka-cey, Ka-cey” and the vamping rumble of bass signified showtime, the Texan emerged in a black floral embroidered three-piece suit. Under the swingline blazer, a crop top and high-waisted bottoms not quite quantifiable as shorts hid behind her acoustic guitar. Somewhat of a “business in the front, party in the back” situation for stage attire, it proved a perfect metaphor for her command of the crossover.

Running through the majority of her Grammy-winning Album of the Year, 2018’s Golden Hour – which took the East Texas singer of three previous LPs from country star to pop superstar – Musgraves emphasized different arrangements live than those found on her commercial and mainstream breakout. Vocals stood at the forefront of more stripped down interpretations of material receiving grander production on the album. The backing band, clad in rust brown utility jumpsuits, created pop catharsis one moment with banjo and pedal steel, then churned out country classics the next, employing synthesizers and vocoders.

However illustrative her catalog proves to pop-dom, the two covers of the night – Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” – solidified her versatility in solid gold. All the while, the 31-year-old from Golden remains a down-home girl. For the disco twang venture finale of “High Horse,” she winked at the sea of people before her.

“Austin, I’m takin’ my shoes off.”

For its part, the audience teetered on mass hysteria. The beginning of every song prompted hundreds of cell phones rising in the air to capture the moment. From ballad to boogie, no song went unsung. When Musgraves commanded folks to introduce themselves to their neighboring festivalgoer, friendly chatter rose from the grounds. And when she told the crowd to throw their middle fingers in the air, there those middle fingers appeared.

As the night edged closer to the headliner start time, attention shifted elsewhere quickly and the moment fleeted. Nothing stays golden forever.

Kacey Musgraves

Sunday, Oct. 06, 6:00pm, American Express stage

Check out our daily ACL coverage with previews, reviews, interviews, photos, and more.

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Kacey Musgraves, ACL Fest 2019, Brooks & Dunn, Whitney Houston

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