Arts, Music, Off Campus

Musgraves Channels Psychedelic Sound at Boston Show

Kacey Musgraves is something of an enigma to just about everyone, fans and haters alike. She went from a twangy country songwriter with unexpectedly dark lyrics to a global star known for her floating, ethereal sound in the span of just a couple years. Her music is versatile, with lyrics ranging from repetitive and catchy (“Velvet Elvis”) to honest and cathartic (“Happy and Sad”). They’re easy to pin down as great pieces, each and every one of them. Her persona, though, is a little bit harder to understand. 

Musgraves’ Oh, What A World: Tour came to the Rockland Trust Pavilion in the Seaport Thursday night, drawing inspiration from the perfect mixture of the classic country sound with visuals and aesthetics from the psychedelic era. Her hair was big, her pants were flared, and her band all wore monotonous bright pink from head to toe. She was notably ditzy (her Instagram handle, @spaceykacey, finally makes sense), which played out when she spoke to the audience. The few times she introduced a song or paused during an interlude, she rambled instead of talking succinctly (as you would expect from someone who has performed the set dozens, if not hundreds, of times around the globe). And, if you can’t tell already, her blast-from-the-past yet pretty contentious songwriting method was very apparent throughout. 

But, for every time Musgraves talked in circles about her inspiration for any given track, she blew the performance out of the park twice. She played every single song off her award-winning 2018 release, Golden Hour, in its entirety. This is significant—it’s a living testament to the success of not just a few singles, but of an album as its own piece of work. Not one person left disappointed that she didn’t play their favorite song off the record—she even played “Mother,” a minute-long track that is generally regarded as the Golden Hour’s one throwaway, the single track that always gets skipped when listening to the album full-through. 

Musgraves kicked off the concert with “Slow Burn,” in which her silhouette emerged from a thick smoke. Both these things, silhouettes and smoke, were recurring themes throughout the night. Her stage was often backlit but otherwise very dark, showing only her outline next to those of her band. The entire pavilion was filled with smoke, coming from both the stage and the audience and accumulating into a thick fog that dimmed the bright lights and lasers shining all around. 

Since a good amount of her music is on the slow side (especially just about all of Golden Hour), anything remotely high-energy was saved for the end. The show was front-heavy with some of Golden Hour’s greatest songs, namely “Butterflies,” “Happy and Sad,” and “Golden Hour.” Around halfway through the show, the entire band gathered toward the front of the stage and performed nearly the rest of the set sans bright lights and high production. It was stripped-down and excellent, complete with plenty of classic country elements like banjos and pedal steel guitars. 

The show took a u-turn from the laid-back, acoustic feel at the end when Musgraves played all her upbeat, disco-esque songs at the same time. Starting with “Velvet Elvis,” trippy background visuals started mirroring funky projections across the entire ceiling—everything from walking jaguars to waving hands filled the entire space. She then launched directly into “I Will Survive,” an unexpected yet well-appreciated cover that set the audience ablaze. Piercing bright pink and green lights engulfed the stage as she walked from side to side, seemingly unsure what to do with her body without holding the acoustic guitar. 

The show ended with a triage of songs flowing into each other, starting with “Follow Your Arrow,” an older hit off Musgraves’ previous album Same Trailer Different Park. She admitted the song didn’t do well on country radio—the lyrics likely pushed the boundaries of 2013 country music—yet every person at the concert knew all the words. She concluded the show by singing “Rainbow” and “High Horse,” with the former illuminating the crowd with all sorts of vibrant colors, being the perfect setup for the unexpectedly fun, dizzying finale.

Featured Image by Emily Himes / Heights Editor

September 15, 2019