Five thoughts: Kacey Musgraves at the Chelsea (August 20)

Kacey Musgraves at the Chelsea
Photo: Patrick Gray/Kabik Photo Group
Josh Bell

1. Musgraves’ 2018 album Golden Hour expanded both her sound and her audience beyond country music, and she knew where to put her focus, performing all 13 Golden Hour tracks and only two songs each from her previous two albums. As she noted, her music is rarely played on country radio, and the indie- and pop-oriented fans she has cultivated with Golden Hour pledged their allegiance by singing along with every song, sometimes louder than Musgraves herself.

2. In the past, Musgraves and her band members used to take the stage all decked out in Nudie suits, but Musgraves’ new sound calls for a new look, and she literally shone in a sparkly white-gold dress, while the six male backing musicians were dressed in matching dark-colored turtlenecks, blazers and gold chains. It was a very ’70s yacht-rock look that fit with Musgraves’ self-described “cosmic country” sound.

3. Keeping with the ’70s theme, Musgraves performed a surprisingly faithful cover of Gloria Gaynor’s dance-floor classic “I Will Survive.” She didn’t put a country spin on it, just went full-on disco, and completely owned it. When she closed the set with Golden Hour’s disco-flavored hit single “High Horse,” it all made sense.

4. “Damn it smells good in here,” Musgraves quipped about the obvious scent of marijuana wafting through the venue, right before she launched into the double entendre-filled “High Time.” Earlier, she added “Because I got high” to the line “Guess I’m hanging by myself, but I don’t mind” in “Lonely Weekend,” and she later introduced one of her band members as the biggest weed-smoker of the group. If anyone thought she’d be toning down her pro-pot stance to please the country establishment, they were sorely mistaken.

5. Musgraves hasn’t abandoned her country roots, and “Family Is Family,” from 2015’s Pageant Material, was delightfully twangy, while even many of the Golden Hour songs were augmented with pedal steel and banjo. At one point, she led a call-and-response “yee-haw” chant. As sophisticated as her current image may be, she’s still country at heart.

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