Less than a year removed from her most recent Wisconsin performance, where she supported Little Big Town with the last country music concert at the Bradley Center, singer Kacey Musgraves braved the cold and brought her "Oh, What A World" tour to The Sylvee in Madison on Friday night for one of the venue’s first country performances.
While Milwaukee is unfortunately left out on the current leg of her North American tour, as well as the new leg which was announced moments before Friday’s show, there was no shortage of reasons for fans to make the 80-mile drive along I-94 to see Musgraves and her band perform live.
Here are eight reasons you should have made the drive to Madison for Kacey Musgraves’ Wisconsin tour stop:
1. The end of the Polar Vortex
"You guys survived the polar sh*t", Musgraves joked at the start of her set – and with everyone’s cabin fever at an all-time high, what better cure than a concert on a Friday night?
This week’s subzero temperatures not only caused schools and businesses to close their doors throughout the state, but Musgraves was even forced to reschedule her Chicago concert due to the cold. So with tropical temperatures in the mid-teens and a concert that would have been cancelled if the polar vortex lingered an extra day, the weather alone provided motivation for fans to enjoy Friday’s performance.
2. She’s not your average country singer
No country singer today casts a wider net than Musgraves.
A quick glance through Friday’s sold-out crowd told the story: Musgraves isn’t your typical country artist. Cowboy hats, oversized belt buckles and trucker caps were far below a typical country concert quota while boots and flannels were more in the winter variety than the Texas variety. Although the most hardcore country music fans rave about Musgraves’ talents, a large section of her fan base will tell you, "I don’t typically listen to country, but I love some Kacey Musgraves."
Likened to names like Taylor Swift and Maren Morris, who both perfect the country-pop crossover, "Spacey Kacey" makes art for anyone who enjoys music and not just within the genre of country music.
3. Friday was her only Wisconsin tour stop
You can’t count out the possibility of Musgraves returning to Summerfest in 2019, since she is no stranger to the festival and is also making festival appearances at Coachella and Bonnaroo this summer. But as of today, Friday was the only chance to see Musgraves live in Wisconsin this year.
We’re definitely hoping that Musgraves will return to Milwaukee in the near future, but the city’s risk averse fans made the right choice by traveling to Madison to catch her tour in action.
4. Musgraves performed "Golden Hour" in its entirety
Sometimes even an album’s most loyal fans don’t want to see it performed in its entirety. Until a project reaches a legendary status, many concert goers prefer that an artist trim the fat and leave the filler tracks off the set list.
"Golden Hour" is the exception. Not only does the 13-track album have no fillers and is great from start to finish, but the LP is an instant classic and Musgraves’ best album to date. With four Grammy nominations – including an Album of the Year nomination – for the upcoming award show and a big win for the CMA’s best album of 2018, "Golden Hour" is a one-of-a-kind album where every track deserved its placement on Friday night’s setlist.
Friday’s performances from "Golden Hour" were all great, from the singles like "Space Cowboy" and the night’s opener, "Slow Burn," to B-sides like "Velvet Elvis" and "Rainbow," the album’s closing track which Musgraves saved for the encore.
5. Her stripped down performance of "Mother"
Musgraves’ touring band complemented her flawlessly during her Madison concert, but one of the night’s highlights came during one of the set’s most stripped down performances.
Standing on the dark stage with her guitar, Musgraves delivered an acoustic and emotional performance of "Mother," the shortest track on "Golden Hour" but one the singer/songwriter also describes as the album’s most meaningful. Unsurprisingly the song is dedicated to family, where the East Texas native sings about missing her mother.
Following the performance, Musgraves segued beautifully into her record "Oh, What A World," where the tour gets its name.
6. The Sylvee
Although this reason has nothing to do with Musgraves, one reason you should have been in attendance last night was to check out Madison’s newest music venue, The Sylvee.
After kicking off its calendar with Nathaniel Rateliff a few months ago, the beautiful 2,500-capacity venue is doing its part so Madison can give Milwaukee a run for its money for the best Wisconsin city to catch a show.
7. Girls having fun
Unique to Friday night’s set, Musgraves was joined by her opener Liza Anne for a very special performance of Cyndi Lauper’s classic hit, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
The song was a perfect cover to begin wrapping up the night, as everyone in attendance was having a blast from start to finish. You wouldn't expect to hear a Cyndi Lauper track during a country concert – which further proves that Musgraves is like no one else in country music.
Not only was Spacey Kacey having fun with her performances, but she tried out her stand-up routine as well. Musgraves was cracking jokes throughout the night, and when the Badger crowd was playfully booing the fact that one of her band members is from a rival Nebraska, Musgraves defended the banjo player by telling the crowd, "You can’t even deny the quality of their corn products!"
8. "High Horse"
Saving the best for last, Kacey Musgraves performed the disco-inspired track at the end of her encore. The catchy single, which aims to make the arrogant more humble, is beloved by both country radio and Top 40, which is a perfect demonstration of Musgraves’ wide appeal.
While performing your biggest current hit is certainly a cliché of concerts, the track was a perfect ending to a memorable night.
"I bet you think you’re first place," Musgraves sings to the track’s protagonist, but the spot on that podium is reserved for Kacey Musgraves.
"Happy & Sad"
"Merry Go ‘Round"
"Western Jam/High Time"
"Oh, What a World"
"Family Is Family"
"Love Is a Wild Thing"
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (Cyndi Lauper cover)
"Follow Your Arrow"