Earlier this month, Kacey Musgraves won four Grammys for her new record Golden Hour: album of the year, best country album, best country solo performance (“Butterflies”), and best country song (“Space Cowboy”). After briefly celebrating her wins with Mick Jagger and a chicken sandwich, the country singer/songwriter hit the road again, and stopped in Portland last night for a sold-out show at the Schnitz.
Musgraves brought Soccer Mommy on her current tour, which seemed like an odd pairing to me at first, but they're both from Nashville, and the self-described "chill but kinda sad" band aced songs like "Cool" and "Your Dog" (from their 2018 album Clean) and made me grateful that young women like Sophie Allison are the new leaders of indie rock.
The first time I saw Musgraves perform, she was opening for Willie Nelson at the Edgefield a couple of summer ago, and won my heart with a cover of Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy." Last night she won my heart again by kicking off her set with "Slow Burn," Golden Hour's opening track (and also my favorite song on the record). In a recent Buzzfeed interview in which she was covered with puppies, Musgraves said it's her favorite song to perform because singing it just feels like water flowing. "Slow Burn" gives me the same feeling as Neil Young's Harvest; it gradually builds to become this sweeping, orchestral masterpiece, but it's rooted in a simple acoustic guitar melody.
Shortly after taking the stage, Musgraves pointed out that there was "a lot to celebrate," since she just won four freaking Grammys, and as the crowd roared in applause she added, "That shit is wild." She proceeded to play every song on Golden Hour backed by her "Crispy Boys"—a name she said has something to do with LaCroix. Her band was incredible, filling out songs with cello, fiddle, pedal steel guitar, upright bass, keys, and—ugh—xylophone. (Sorry but I hate that instrument and, if given the time and resources to do so, would destroy every single one on earth.)
Musgraves' voice is truly stunning, and she controls it with a precision that reminds me of beloved country queen Dolly Parton, who she just performed with at the Grammys. But the show was made great by the warmth she brought to every song and her anecdotes about stuff like being gifted a cannabis bouquet (which she shared before playing "High Time," of course). She commented on country music's historic lack of inclusion before playing "Follow Your Arrow," and later taught the audience how to yeehaw. At one point Allison came back onstage to join Musgraves in a passionate cover of "Tearin' Up My Heart" by *NSYNC—a funny coincidence, since last night Justin Timberlake was just across the river for his "Man of the Woods" tour stop at Moda Center.
The show ended with "High Horse," Musgraves' disco-country hit that makes banjo and synth sound like natural companions, as rainbow beach balls were thrown into the crowd. It felt like a major celebration of Musgraves' Grammy awards, but also of all the things her music communicates: emotional vulnerability, free-spirited fun, unquestioning acceptance, and killing 'em with kindness. Here's hoping this is just the beginning of Kacey Musgraves' golden hour.