Kacey Musgraves Kicks Off RodeoHouston All Right With a Slow Burn

Kacey Musgraves drew heavily from her album of the year, Golden Hour.
Kacey Musgraves drew heavily from her album of the year, Golden Hour.
Photo by Jack Gorman
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Kacey Musgraves
NRG Stadium
February 25, 2K19

Kacey Musgraves doesn’t have many speeds. Sure, she does have a few mid-tempo numbers that come along and keep things feeling somewhat energetic, but she’s mostly happy to mosey her way through her music, taking the time to savor her melodies and wordplay. Monday night’s RodeoHouston kick off may have seen her play one of the most relaxed sets NRG Stadium has ever seen, the antidote to so many energy drink and whiskey-fueled nights in the past and sure to come. It was not a show for everyone, but those on board with what Musgraves has to offer, it was a delightful evening.

Drawing heavily from her latest release, and Album of the Year, Golden Hour, it was a set that saw her setting her guitar down for the most part and embracing her inner pop diva. It’s a role that she plays well, as good as most of the stars you’ll find over at Toyota Center, albeit with more interesting instrumentation and better word play. Anyone who ever heard her take on Miguel’s “Waves” knew that her best play was to use country music as the platform for pop bops, and tracks like “Space Cowboy” and “High Horse” shimmer in big rooms like NRG Stadium. And her cover of “Neon Moon” should probably be recorded and sent to pop radio immediately.

But the two highlights of the set came from unexpected corners. RodeoHouston saw its first big crowd singing moment of the year with a gorgeous take on “Merry Go Round” that started off more moody prog-rock than country, proving that it’s still a vital part of her catalog. The second was a complete shocker, as she did a cover of Selena’s “Como la Flor” that was flawless in execution and should get her a lifetime invite back to the Rodeo.

Whether or not she returns remains to be seen. She seemed to have a good time, and this will certainly rank pretty high when it comes to counting down the best shows of Rodeo season, but there’s always those pesky “will she move tickets?” questions that will linger, for now at least. But she’s also an artist who seems one perfect pop song away from becoming that star that no longer has to worry about whether country radio will embrace her, because the rest of the world will already have. For now, I’m content to enjoy what we got and hope we get more over the next few years.

Musgraves spent a lot of time singing without her guitar.
Musgraves spent a lot of time singing without her guitar.
Photo by Jack Gorman

Personal Bias: I hope Musgraves sticks around for the next 40 years and becomes something close to our generation’s Dolly Parton, a talented artist with great music and a charming personality that we can always count on to prove that there’s still a light in the darkness that is much of the music industry.

The Crowd: The 53,031 attendance number will surely put it in the running for the most poorly attended show this season, in case you’re looking for a concrete argument that sometimes this city has no taste.

Mutton Bustin’ Report: One kid said he wanted to be a “regular human” when he grows up, and although he didn’t win the competition, he did win our hearts.

Random Notebook Dump: Had you asked me a month ago, I would have told you this was the RodeoHouston concert I was most looking forward to. Truth is, tonight was the night I’ve least wanted to be at the Rodeo. Most of you never got the chance to meet my dog Marley, partially because I’m just a human on the other side of your screen, but mostly because my dog hated strangers. In spite of that, my dog was the best, most handsome dog in the world. Unfortunately, he was also old, and sick, and tired. A few hours before Musgraves took the stage, I had to say goodbye to Marley, and there’s no sugarcoating how broken my heart is. The silver lining was that Musgraves was probably the only performer on this year’s bill who might have, through the magic of compartmentalization, made me feel something other than sad tonight. But still, I miss my dog.

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