The Country-Pop starlet left the Garden starry-eyed at her sold-out show.
“I’m just so mother fucking excited,” Texas sweetheart Kacey Musgraves declared to her sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd. Almost 10 years after her debut album Same Trailer, Different Park established her as a premier Country act, Musgraves was now headlining the legendary New York arena as a Pop phenom. Over the course of her 90 minute show, she eschewed much of those rural origins for glitzy neon-psychedelia.
Musgraves’ genre shift has been slow and steady, from Katy Perry duets on to Daft Punk influenced Country, and finally to a full synthpop record last year. With assistance from two bonafide Pop acts, Musgraves is embracing the audience that embraced her and the hybrid-genre success of 2018’s Golden Hour. Openers MUNA sounded beefier than what I’ve heard at two previous shows, with the band’s instrumentalists sounding lively and even vigorous. Despite being the first act – with a criminally short set – the trio garnered strong crowd reactions to their euphoric signature tracks “I Know A Place,” and the TikTok hit “Silk Chiffon.” After a swift set change, second opener King Princess delivered a more lopsided performance. While she was a strong stage presence, the burden of having a slow tempo signature hit (“1950“) made the setlist somewhat awkward, as she ended with an unreleased track rather than a sing-along which stunted the concert’s flow.
After a short intermission, the headliner emerged with the stunning opener “Star-Crossed,” with staging similar to her breathaking VMAs performance. The show was split into three tidy and charming sections: 1) the first four Star-Crossed tracks and the TikTok hit “breadwinner” 2) a “back to the beginning” middle with Golden Hour only selections, and 3) a return to Star-Crossed with a single Country tune, her debut single “Merry Go Round.” With Musgraves finding a fascination with film as of recent, these clean-cut, theatrical chapters flowed well both for the audience and their singer. With her marriage now firmly over the hill, the setlist allowed Musgraves to give the divorce songs their necessary bite without persistently flipping between these distinct chapters of her life.
Partly because it’s a transition record, Star-Crossed hasn’t connected on the same level as its predecessor. The critical response has been significantly softer, while Interscope hasn’t been able to break Musgraves’ streak of muted radio performance (“Justified” did, however, reach Top 5 on AAA radio). At the Garden, however, you’d have a hard time telling. The crowd seemed more energized for Star-Crossed tracks like “Camera Roll” and “Simple Times” than Golden Hour classics like “Slow Burn.” While Musgraves lacks the stage presence and vocal power of some of her pop counterparts, she presented an eye-popping spectacle across every track track, and never let on that Pop super stardom may not be her foremost calling.
With an army of devout fans and most of her career still lying ahead of her, Musgraves is poised to grow into her newfound Pop persona.
Listen to Star-Crossed by Kacey Musgraves below.