Photo: Rob Wallace, Mindful Photo, Courtesy of Wolf Trap

Kacey Musgraves Brings More Than Just Crossover Country to Wolf Trap

There’s nothing better than hearing a full album you’ve treasured since its release live with amazing visual and instrumental effects in an intimate concert setting. On the second leg of her Oh, What A World Tour, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves stopped in Vienna, VA to play a magical set for a sold-out crowd at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. 

Word of this must-see show is definitely out, as most of the rest of her tour dates are also (understandably) sold out. Saturday, September 7 marked her return to Vienna’s national park since the Live From Here show in May 2018.

She nailed the reappearance in an endless number of ways, but I’ll just mention these: By playing every song on her most recent and best album yet (Golden Hour); by choosing a fantastic power-house vocalist as her opener (British singer-songwriter Yola); by incorporating several perfect acoustic moments; and by engaging the audience with colorful wow-factor visuals.

Musgraves started her career as a country artist, but has since ditched all labels and headed down a path of emotionally charged lyrics, smooth angelic vocals and laid-back vibes to appeal to the affinity of music lovers of all kinds. 

However, she does please her pre-Golden Hour fans on this tour with her more twangy side, performing “High Time” and “Family is Family,” and the small-town-life anthems “Merry Go Round” and “Follow Your Arrow,” both from her 2013 album Same Trailer Different Park. By keeping these country jams in her set, she’s proved that she can be a retro disco diva queen without losing her unique, raw Southern sound.

She lets her Golden Hour songs shine their brightest on this tour, opening with “Slow Burn,” which sounded just as dreamy as it did at the CMA Awards 2018, and ending with the most upbeat, energetic song on the album, “High Horse.” In the first half hour, we’re blessed with some of the more groovy, retro-sounding songs on the album “Butterflies,” “Lonely Weekend” and “Happy & Sad,” all accompanied by vibrant graphics on stage from a kaleidoscope of butterflies to light outlining smiley faces with one teardrop.

For Musgraves’ short but sweet ballad “Mother,” she is isolated from her band with a spotlight and her guitar for acoustics. She then comes front and center to play a bright, almost bluegrassified version for “Oh What A World,” featuring banjo, pedal steel guitar and a plucking bassist. Though the song is heard without it’s electronic edge, it doesn’t lose its beautifully dramatic and fantastical vibe.

The ear-pleasing electric sounds returned for “Love Is A Wild Thing,” written about her love story with husband and fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. Musgrave vocalized her love for the “chill” audience that showed up for her Saturday night show, but appreciated those that screamed and fangirled for her iconic “when-I-say-yee-you-say-haw” moment with the crowd. This fan-powered energizer was followed by Musgraves’ funky “Velvet Elvis” and a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s disco-era, golden oldie “I Will Survive.”

Saturday night’s breathtaking pre-fall weather was matched by a glorious, stunning night of Musgraves’ epic performance. The Oh, What A World: Tour II, even as it nears its last month on the road, packs legendary moments with high energy and total poise. Oh, what a treat. 

To read more about Kacey Musgraves and the tour, visit www.kaceymusgraves.com. To see upcoming shows at Wolf Trap, visit the website www.wolftrap.org.

Wolf Trap’s Filene Center for the Performing Arts: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

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Kayla Marsh

Kayla is a Northern VA native and graduated from JMU in 2016 with a major in media arts and design. With a background in print journalism, she writes about music, food and sometimes sports. You can find her singing in traffic, at a sports bar watching the Nats, eating tacos or live tweeting The Bachelor.