State Fair of Texas, Fair Park, Dallas
Friday, Sept. 30, 2016
I’ve never seen Texas-country musician Kacey Musgraves in concert. And after attending her show at the State Fair of Texas its opening night, I still have never seen her in concert.
There were hundreds or probably thousands — really just a massive sea of people — crowded around the stage to see the Mineola native. If you wanted any kind of close proximity to the stage, you would have to skip a day of car shows and corn dogs and claim your spot early in the afternoon. Or you would have to fight your way through the fried food-eaten and sweaty crowd to claim a spot later on.
But once you were in the spot, you were in the spot. Forget wanting to exit briefly for a beer or anything. There were too many people. There were too many people standing shoulder to shoulder. You and your inevitable panic attack were stuck there.
So on the perimeters of the crowd, I stayed and listened. I couldn’t see anything the Grammy award-winner was doing, but I’m not sure that’s entirely necessary. From everything I’ve seen from her in the past, she’s sort of the female George Strait in a sense. She stands behind the mic stand with her guitar and sings her songs. Because with Musgraves’ strong voice, that’s enough. It was enough Friday night for those thousands of people, whether they could see her or not.
At first glance (pun intended), the East Texas native would appear to be the perfect person to play the opening night at the State Fair of Texas. And she kind of is. Her stage was decked out with light-up cacti, pink streamers hung in the background and she donned cowboy boots and a cowboy hat while strumming her guitar. As a Texan, she understands the magnitude of the State Fair. After the first few songs, she announced to the crowd, “This is insane. Umm, holy shit,” and then began the next song but not before saying, “Let’s have a good ol’ Texas time.”
But here’s the thing: Musgraves is too good to play at a state fair. Even if it’s Texas’s state fair, even if it’s a spectacle all on its own each year, and even if people from around the state travel to attend it, it’s still a freaking fair. There are still carnival rides in the area and still people in the crowd covered in grease from eating something called chicken-fried bacon. And admission to the concert comes with admission to the fair.
After a day of eating and going to pig races, once the sun had set, they found themselves at the stage with the musical entertainment for the night. Even if Musgraves nabbed the best night to perform, the State Fair isn’t exactly bringing in big names the rest of the year. Example: In a few weeks, a Christian rock artist will perform.
Musgraves is an award-winning songwriter and musician and should command bigger and more prominent stages in Dallas. And it’s not like a lack of fans should prevent that from happening, either. Whether they came there for the fair or for Musgraves or possibly for both, they were fans of Musgraves and her music. It was evident even in the very back with people dancing and singing along and standing on ledges and hopping on other people’s backs for a chance at a glimpse of her.