Kacey Musgraves began 2019 by winning four Grammy Awards—including Album of the Year for Golden Hour and Best Country Solo Performance for “Butterflies”—and she has kept her profile high with a collaboration on Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot album, gigs at Lollapalooza and Coachella, and especially her Oh, What a World global tour. In advance of her appearance at the Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan, here are five reasons why Musgraves is a must-see artist now more than ever.
1. She has confidence beyond her years.
Over the past few years, Musgraves has spent time in arenas opening for major pop stars (Harry Styles and Katy Perry) and country darlings (Little Big Town), and warming up the crowd at some of George Strait’s T-Mobile Arena shows. Performing in front of those crowds has helped the 30-year-old Musgraves gain experience in front of large audiences, while also building expertise at convincing skeptics or those unfamiliar with her music that she’s the real deal.
2. She brings levity to her shows.
Musgraves is inarguably country’s meme queen, thanks in part to her genuinely shocked facial reaction to winning Album of the Year (which spawned an officially licensed phone PopSocket) and her wholehearted embrace of the cheeky cowboy aesthetic. That same levity extends to her stage banter, which is refreshingly freewheeling and charming and provides a perfect balance to her dreamy, introspective songs. Exhibit A: At Coachella, after encouraging the crowd to respond to her saying “Yee” with a hearty “Haw,” she jokingly chided them, “I didn’t say f*cking yee!” when they jumped the gun.
3. Golden Hour translates extremely well live.
This wasn’t necessarily a given, since while the album’s production is sleek and expansive, the songs themselves are delicate and adorned with sparse piano, guitars and percussion. But Musgraves’ songwriting sincerity gives them heft—it’s even clearer in concert how personal and meaningful Golden Hour is to her—and the emotional connection between the performer and her crowd is undeniable.
4. Her eclectic take on country is well-honed.
Musgraves has always hoped to nudge the country establishment into a progressive direction sonically and thematically. And while radio still isn’t embracing her (“Rainbow” only reached No. 33 on the airplay chart), her full range of influences emerges in brilliant color live. She has recently been covering The Flaming Lips’ psych-pop touchstone “Do You Realize??” and Gloria Gaynor’s empowering disco anthem “I Will Survive”—both of which align well with Golden Hour jams like the zoned-out “Oh, What a World” and the synth-heavy “High Horse.”
5. There’s plenty for longtime and new fans.
When an artist breaks out the way Musgraves has, he or she is bound to bring on legions of new fans. Those who have followed Musgraves for years shouldn’t be left behind, however, as her current setlists cover both hits (“Merry Go ’Round,” “Follow Your Arrow”) and choice album cuts (“Die Fun” off 2015’s Pageant Material).
KACEY MUSGRAVES with Poolside. August 20, 8 p.m., $39-$150. The Chelsea, 702-698-7000.