Kacey Musgraves stepped onto The Bomb Factory stage Friday night, clad in a dress the color of a freshly uncapped highlighter.
A roar ripped through the sold-out room like a tornado.
Such a visceral reaction was inevitable, given Musgraves’ standing as a hometown-ish girl (this Dallas gig is as close as her current Oh, What a World Tour gets to her childhood home of Mineola).
If that weren’t enough, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter is just four weeks removed from this year’s Grammy Awards, where she picked up four trophies, including a win for Album of the Year for her masterful third record, Golden Hour.
Musgraves acknowledged the evening’s import not long into her 90-minute set.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to come home and celebrate,” she told the ceaselessly cheering fans, wedged in tight near the foot of the stage. “I have family here tonight, and we’re gonna have a damn good time.” (Indeed, Musgraves’ grandmother, situated in one of the suites along the balcony rail, was spotted cheering enthusiastically throughout the night.)
But was the crowd — a diverse array of ages, genders and sexual orientations — really ready to cut loose?
Musgraves needed to make sure.
“Turn to the person next to you, and give them a high five. OK, get your middle fingers up,” she directed those assembled before her, who eagerly complied. “Now, you’re ready.”
With that, the concert, her first North Texas headlining performance in two years and first DFW appearance after opening for Harry Styles last summer at American Airlines Center, got underway.
Over the course of Friday’s set, Musgraves explored the whole of Golden Hour, a 13-track album that finds her successfully straying from the more conventionally country aesthetic of her first two LPs.
Golden Hour is a vividly interior album, a song cycle directed inward and splashed with psychedelic impulses — delicate, deliberate and definitely a work that has connected with the masses in a profound way.
From the first song (the luscious “Slow Burn”) to the last (dance floor kiss-off “High Horse”), the audience belted out the lyrics at top volume, often leading Musgraves to turn the mic toward the room and let them carry the moment, as her ace, six-piece band played away behind her.
Friday’s set didn’t neglect Musgraves’ earlier work — she slowed down her exquisite “Merry Go ‘Round,” indulged in the inclusive singalong “Follow Your Arrow” and drew her backing musicians close for an acoustic breakdown of “Family is Family.”
Long a fan of unexpected covers — Musgraves has, over the years in North Texas, tackled everything from TLC to Bob Marley to Julie Andrews — she also made time for a rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” as well as her internet-breaking cover of Selena’s “Como la Flor,” which Musgraves debuted at her RodeoHouston headlining gig last month.
“We all know who Selena Quintanilla is,” Musgraves shouted. “If she was still here today, she’d be blowing everyone out of the fucking water! I love her!”
It was another singular moment in a night filled with them: The “yee-haw” call and response she initiated before “Velvet Elvis,” or the palpable emotion flowing through the room as she began playing “Rainbow,” which had been a centerpiece of her triumph on the Grammys stage just a month earlier.
Her heartfelt gratitude — “Thank you for your wonderful love and support — just, thank you,” she said, near the evening’s end — was reflected right back at her by the adoring audience.
All of it combined to make Friday feel, rightly, like an enormously satisfying victory lap — confirmation that Kacey Musgraves, with her songs capable of evoking both disco balls and tumbleweeds, is as formidable and ferocious a talent as her home state always knew her to be.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.