Sold-out crowd connects with Musgraves’ sharp, sincere style

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves stands outside the country music establishment, but she should be an artist the whole industry rallies behind.

She is a star, and she won two Grammy Awards. And yes, her hit “Merry Go ‘Round” sold 1 million copies, but she’s not content to sing ex-boyfriend revenge songs or change lyrics to suit record label execs. She has no problem singing about things that don’t usually make the cut in most country radio singles.

She’s matter of fact. Take her or leave her.

And I’ll take her just as she is, thank you very much.

On Saturday night at a sold-out Sokol Auditorium, the country star was covered head to foot in sparkles as she sang about the country music “Good Ol’ Boys Club” (“shouldn’t be about who it is you know/but about how good you are”) and how “Family Is Family” (“they own too much wicker and drink too much liquor”).

With pink and sparkling streamers, a rhinestone-studded microphone stand and band members cloaked in raspberry-colored suits (with Christmas light-studded lapels), the show was somewhere between trailer park kitsch and old school country music class.

You know, sort of like Musgraves herself.

She toes the line between funny and honest, adorable and smart, girl next door and knockout.

She’s a killer singer and an even better lyricist.

She can be amusing in one song and then tell poignant truths in another. Musgraves occasionally does both at once.

Musgraves’ set spanned Tex-Mex toe-tapping in “High Time,” old school acoustic strumming in the hit “Biscuits” and clever covers, including a honky tonk version of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” and a strummy take on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

“Merry Go ‘Round,” a song I already loved, was a revelation as Musgraves performed it solo.

As she sat on a stool and strummed an acoustic guitar, Musgraves was confronted with a host of fans singing every word about small towns, booze, pills and family.

“You’re so beautiful, y’all,” she said, interrupting the song. “Y’all are gonna make me cry.”

Many songs brought out the singers, and you could tell who identified with which song when they’d really let it all out for a favorite.

For some that was Musgraves’ “Dime Store Cowgirl” about a girl from a small town hitting it big but holding onto her roots. For others, it was “It Is What It Is,” the raw story about being with someone maybe because you’re in love, or maybe because you’re just bored.

Musgraves thanked her fans over and over, especially for selling out her third show in Omaha (and her first headlining gig here).

Fans showed their gratitude during the show’s finale as they bathed Musgraves in a chorus of voices for “Follow Your Arrow.” She let the audience take the final refrain before she ended the show with a smile.

And in a true show of talent and a nod to her love of all things old-school, Musgraves and her very talented band gathered around a single microphone to sing the classic “Happy Trails” and bid the audience goodbye.

“We might not get to come back for a while so you better enjoy this (stuff),” Musgraves said.

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