Kacey Musgraves returned to Milwaukee last night Feb. 21 with her first ever performance at the legendary and historical Pabst Theater. Although a bit camera shy, pushing photographers to the back of the room to do their job, Musgraves seemed to portray all the qualities of southern charm that you'd expect in a modern day country music singer. She was wildly entertaining musically and funny in a way that reminded me of an early June Carter.
Musgraves let her music do the heavy lifting last night, but throughout the show checked in with Milwaukee to talk about the weather and her recent experience performing in Minneapolis during which she was booed when she mentioned she had previously been performing in Madison. Almost on cue, Milwaukee booed back and Musgraves joked about the friendly rivalry between the states and then threw out a Milwaukee Brewers plush doll into the audience in an act of good faith. Musgraves joked to the crowd, "I'm not trying to start some shit up here."
While the bulk of material Musgraves performed was from her major label debut, "Same Trailer, Different Park," there was also a healthy mix of cover songs. Kacey took the encore as an opportunity to perform a couple of new songs from an album she said will hopefully be out this spring. Notable covers from the night included Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again," and Britney Spears' mega hit "Toxic," which in the hands of Musgraves and her band sounded like it was an outtake off the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack.
And then there were the hits, which Musgraves sprinkled throughout the show. "Blowing Smoke" seemed to fall a bit flat of it's mark, but "Merry Go Round" resonated much more deeply with the audience and turned into an epic sing along with the crowd filling the air with song without prompting. Musgraves stepped back off the microphone and let Milwaukee sing to her.
As for the new songs during the encore, fans were given a preview of "Biscuits," a delightful song which Musgraves said will be her new single in a few weeks and "Cup Of Tea," which sounded a bit too much like "Follow Your Arrow," truth be told. Musgraves performed "Follow Your Arrow" with spunk and assertiveness with just the right amount of sass to pull it off as believable. For the last song of the night the entire band stood with Kacey at one microphone and bid goodnight to Milwaukee with an a capella rendition of "Happy Trails."