Around two years ago, Kacey Musgraves stepped on stage to a half-filled room in New York City while opening for Little Big Town. Some people knew her name, but not nearly enough. People were walking in during her set, talking, laughing, but once she closed her set with hit “Merry Go ‘Round”, accompanied by just her and her guitar, the crowd went silent. They learned her name that night.
On Tuesday, October 15th, Musgraves walked on to that stage again; this time as a headliner at the first of two sold-out shows at the legendary Radio City Music Hall. She started with “Slow Burn”, the first track off the Grammy-winning album Golden Hour, with her guitar and silhouette being the only two things visible. Once the second verse kicked in, the lights came up, and the crowd went wild. “Oh my gosh, this is exciting. Ok well, you didn’t sell out just one night, you sold out two!” She shouted to the audience, which resulted in cheers throughout the entire venue. “I am so honored and so excited to be here, there are just no words to describe how happy I am to be playing this iconic place, and in New York City nonetheless. Are y’all ready to have a good time?” The crowd roared in response. “Sweet, me too.”
The crowd had better than a good time, and Musgraves appeared to be having just as much fun as the fans did. She sang hits like “Butterflies” and “Follow Your Arrow”, both of which the crowd knew every word to and sang almost as loud as she did. “This is my story about growing up in a small town,” Musgraves said to the audience before playing “Merry Go ‘Round”. One of the highlights of the night was when she accompanied herself on guitar as the crowd sang the last chorus of “Go ‘Round” by themselves, a moment that was incredibly vulnerable for every person filling the seats, and for Musgraves and her band.
Musgraves added something special to her extended tour. She had beautiful, detailed lasers that created an absolute utopia of an atmosphere. The lasers generated stars, clouds, and, golden beams of light, among other things. After singing Pagent Material album cut “Family is Family,” Musgraves told the crowd, “This next person I want to bring out is from my family, but not the crazy [kind mentioned in “Family]… he is someone I really admire so much, as a fellow songwriter and creator, but also as my husband,” she said, and with that, Ruston Kelly (Bowery Ballroom, October 24th) surprised everyone and came out with his guitar. The couple played their song, “To June, This Morning”, the lyrics from a letter Johnny Cash wrote to June Carter Cash, and the melody they wrote together. The theatre was silent as the two sang the love song in electrifying harmony, and although there were thousands of fans watching them, it was one of the highlights and most intimate moments of the night.
“A lot changed when I met Ruston, [love] songs just started coming out, but [before] I met him, I was like, it’s not clicking, I’m not going to find my person, and you know, I felt like I didn’t deserve it, to be honest,” Musgraves told the New York City crowd as her band returned to the stage. “It’s really cool that a change of events can happen and it’s cool to see that love can really spring up at any place”, she said, starting up the Golden Hour cut “Love Is A Wild Thing”.
Magic seemed to be all around during Musgraves’ set. While an incredible performer, she is a poet first, and it was a treat for any fan to watch her explain her stories. She brought light and honesty to everyone on a weeknight, and her set was like entering an alternate universe. Once in this “world”, no one wanted to leave.
Kelly wasn’t the only surprise of the night. During her cover of the iconic, “I Will Survive”, the one and only Gloria Gaynor joined Musgraves onstage. “Gloria Gaynor, the queen of disco!” Musgraves shouted. Gaynor had nothing but kind words to say about Musgraves, telling the audience, “I recorded this song in 1975, forty years ago, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Kacey is carrying on the tradition, helping you all to survive”.
In a time where people constantly disagreeing with one another, music is there to help humans survive. No one knew each other, swaying to Musgraves’ glow, but together, they were a community of people sustained by stories. It’s a pretty powerful sentiment, and this showed on lighter songs like “High Time” and on heavier songs like “Rainbow”. Music is a healer, and Musgraves is leading that revolution.
The final song in Musgraves’ set was upbeat psychedelic-country jam “High Horse”, and there was not a single person standing still at that moment. “I want to see you jump!” She told the dancing audience while confetti and lasers decorated the stage. It was the perfect end to a perfect show.
In 2019, genres aside, it’s rare to see a true singer-songwriter reach this many people. Musgraves captivated the audience, some old and some new fans, with her storytelling and raw vocals, and she brought such joy to Manhattan. In the words of the queen of yeehaw herself, “Oh what a world / I don’t want to leave / All kinds of magic all around us it’s hard to believe / Thank god it’s not too good to be true / Oh what a world”.
The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.
Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!
Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!