Where would you want to see Kacey Musgraves besides Bonnaroo? In the closing weeks of a swing-for-the-fences new album push, the Texas native played arguably the Tennessee fest’s most highly-anticipated non-headlining set Friday (June 12) afternoon.
From touring with Katy Perry to covering Fader this month, Musgraves has pushed for elusive country-crossover appeal, and rest assured, plenty of Nashville and the industry beyond would love for June 23’s Pageant Material to do the trick. But Musgraves’ Bonnaroo set stressed her traditional side, the side that won’t bend over backwards for radio if it won’t ask her cutesy Nashville chic to the dance.
New single “Biscuits” was warmly received, and introduced with a shout out to the audience’s Southern faction: “You’ll know what I’m talking about with biscuits.” But Musgraves has sass, too. After the final note, she remarked “They just pulled that one off the fucking radio… whatever that means. Maybe they don’t like biscuits.”
Musgraves paraded out two other new songs (see set list below), both of which vibed with the small town acoustic he-said-she-said spirit of 2013’s Same Trailer, Different Park. On “This Town,” she celebrates Mineola, Tex.’s sweet potato festival and Mexican restaurant but laments her home town being much too small for her. On “Family Is Family” she pledges her love for the “nuts in the bag” that show up to Musgraves get togethers, even if they did some time. If this little songwriting sample size is any indicator, the old Kacey isn’t going anywhere, even if she’s going to cover TLC (which she awesomely did via “No Scrubs”) and take time out to remind her fans that she likes “a million other things” besides country, just like they do.
There were two times Musgraves got some real swag going. One was her set-closing cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” and the other was her steamy rendition of of “Mama’s Broken Heart,” which she wrote for Miranda Lambert. But she was channeling Lambert or Nancy Sinatra for the attitude; the songs she writes for herself still match the country-twee persona that set its risqé limit at the lyrics of “Follow Your Arrow.”
But if you’re Musgraves, why front — especially at Bonnaroo? She gets to perform close to home in Nashville, alongside all the city slickers and alt-leaning out-of-owners who came ready to genre-hop along with her. These are her people and if she can pull off sets like this across America, maybe radio will get its act together.
Here’s the set list from the show:
I Miss You
This Town (new song)
Mama’s Broken Heart
No Scrubs (TLC cover)
Family Is Family (new song)
It Is What It Is
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley cover)
Merry Go ‘Round
Follow Your Arrow
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (Nancy Sinatra cover)