Kacey Musgraves wrapped the North American leg of her Oh, What a World Tour II on Friday night (October 25) in Nashville, breaking Bridgestone Arena’s attendance record and thrilling fans with a massive surprise guest. According to Musgraves, 18,373 packed into the sold-out venue (the most for a female headliner), putting a cherry on top of what has been a truly career-defining year.
In between songs and with a sea of fans screaming back at her, the Golden Hour hit maker (2019’s Grammy Album of the Year) said the whole night felt like “One gigantic victory lap of sorts,” but fans had no idea how many “wins” she had left up her sleeve. From Harry-freaking-Styles to stereotype challenging country hits, here are five things we loved about the triumphant show.
Queen of the Slow Groove — In a country genre currently obsessed with uptempo anthems, Musgraves is one of the few artists who doesn’t shy away from a slow jam — she even kicked the concert off with the patient, laid back vibes of “Slow Burn.” From a critic’s perspective, she seems to assume her audience has an attention span of more than five seconds — and fills those moments with emotional nuance. People can be happy and sad at the same time, ya’ll, and hearing Musgraves sing about it is refreshingly complicated.
Everybody In – After famously encouraging listeners to “Follow Your Arrow” on 2013’s Same Trailer Different Park, Musgraves has built one of the most diverse fan bases in country music — breaking assumptions about country listeners like a new age Dolly Parton. Her Bridgestone show felt like a safe space for folks from all walks of life, and they definitely showed up for a good time. From neon-lit cowboy hats to leather chaps and glitter (so much glitter), the aura of inclusivity was world class.
Make Your Own Rainbow — Musgraves doesn’t command attention with choreographed dance moves or gigantic set pieces. In fact, her stage at Bridgestone was fairly basic when compared to the usual arena-headliner setup. That was partly to help get so many people in the venue, but also speaks to Musgraves’ ability to captivate with just her voice and the songs themselves — classic and classy. So when she does dial up a special moment, it’s even more memorable. During the tender “Rainbow,” fans were asked to reach under their seat and pull out a hidden piece of paper, then hold it over their phone’s flashlight. One by one they flickered on — but depending on where you were sitting, each was a different color. The ingenious effect was to create a shimmering rainbow out of the crowd itself.
Split Personalities — In true diva fashion, Musgraves’ show featured a wardrobe change that also seemed to turn the show upside down. She began the night in an elegant yellow gown with a bikini-tie top and a stunning leg slit running up her right thigh. That portion of the show felt modern and chic, full of fat bass lines and synth accents on tracks like “Wonder Woman” and “Butterflies.” But halfway through, she changed into a red blazer and crushed-velvet skirt, kicking off her shoes and gathering her band together for an acoustic interlude. The rootsy moment put Musgraves’ country bonafides center stage, featuring tracks like “Oh, What a World” and “Family Is Family.”
A Stylish Guest – Of course, the evening’s highlight came at the very end, when a mysterious guest appeared to sing along with the moody “Space Cowboy.” Fans knew something was up, but when pop superstar Harry Styles appeared through a haze of smoke, the arena lost its collective mind. Musgraves opened shows for Styles on his North American tour last year, and through the deafening screams of the crowd, the pair’s intriguing vocal blend only enhanced what was an extremely dramatic moment.
“As a peer, and someone I like to call a friend, it’s always a pleasure, an honor to share the stage with this lady,” Styles said after the performance. “She’s made a couple of my favorite albums, and it’s an honor to be here tonight with all of you to say congratulations and round off this wonderful tour, and a wonderful year.”
Oh, what a year, indeed. Styles then put an exclamation point on it, unleashing a wild “Yeeeeehaaaaaawww!”