“So come on hitch your wagon, to the living room I’m draggin’. If I can’t bring you to my house, I’ll bring my house to you.” — My Home, Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves’ house these days is, in fact, on wheels — a sleek tour bus, carrying the songstress and her Porter Wagner-lookalike bandmates from town to town to deliver her firebrand lyrics and down-home sound to the masses.
But her home away from home last night was in Milwaukee, on the stage of the Pabst Theatre. John & Jacob opened the night, showcasing their unique brand of pop-meets-modern-country. The band from Alabama got the crowd clapping, swaying and singing along — not always an easy feat for an opener — with peppy originals and a rendition of Wake Up Little Susie. They also shared their version of The Band Perry’s anthemic breakup hit Done, which they penned.
The Follow Your Arrow singer, clad in tasseled top and big skirt, went on to perform very much like a headliner — one deserving of the industry accolades she’s been receiving. Since Musgraves’ last performance in Milwaukee at The Rave about a year ago, she’s come a long way, earning Grammys for Best Country Song for her debut single Merry Go ‘Round and Best Country Album for Same Trailer Different Park.
When Musgraves performed at The Rave, it was clear she had the talent to back up the popularity of her debut album, which went on to to be certified Gold last year, selling more than 500,000 copies. But, the Texas singer who channels the country grit and glamor of Loretta Lynn, lacked charisma and looked uncertain on stage. She failed to connect with the crowd and seemed unsure of herself at that 2013 gig.
A much more confident Musgraves emerged at the Pabst on Feb. 21. Gone were the shy-girl nerves, replaced with presence and poise worthy of filling the role of country’s next Queen — that is, if country doesn’t shun her for her sometimes unwelcome-in-the-genre opinions that both gays and pot are great.
She treated her fans to her hip-swaying melodies and refreshingly honest lyrics for nearly two hours — not bad for a gal with only one album — and charmed the crowd of mostly young women with stories that made her feel like a friend. With guitar — and sometimes tambourine — in hand, she demonstrated with ease her right to be on the stage at at venue like Pabst.
Fun covers during the night included Dolly Parton’s Hear You Come Again, Britney Spears’ Toxic and the classic Nancy Sinatra foot-stomper These Boots Were Made For Walkin’. And in addition to playing most of the tracks off of Same Trailer Different Park, she sprinkled in a couple of new tunes as well, including a diddy called Biscuits with the unforgettable signature lyric “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.” Musgraves told the audience to be on the lookout for a new album this spring.
Musgraves’ first-ever Milwaukee performance was opening for Kenny Chesney at Miller Park. Maybe one day, Musgraves will find herself headlining a place like that herself. She’s had the talent for quite some time. And now, she’s developed the showmanship for it too.