Last Saturday, Kacey Musgraves became the first country artist to headline the famed Apollo Theater. This historic event was met with the style you’d expect of an event described as a "Country and Western Rhinestone Review." The audience was on their feet singing along the entire evening, while her back-up band, “The Runner-Ups,” rocked pinked suits with light-up fringe. If you’re going to be the first country act at the Apollo, you might as well do it right.
After an electric opening set from Sugar and the Hi-Lows, Musgraves opened with “Pageant Material,” the title track off her latest record. Mingling classic country themes with a down-to-earth modern outlook, Musgraves' witty lyricism (“Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy”) and absolute command of the stage made you think for a moment that you were sitting in Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. That is, until she covered TLC’s “No Scrubs.”
Her song “It Is What It Is” was one of the highlights of the set: an almost love-song about casual romance, and the loneliness of being with someone that may not be just right. It’s not every day you hear a lap steel guitar at the Apollo, but The Runner Ups knew just how to use the signature country instrument to bring the tender emotion to a boil. Luckily, they also knew how to get the crowd smiling and laughing with a quick and silly Talent Show.
Kacey Musgraves shared stories as a young girl working to make it as a singer, turning mean Stage Mom comments into clever tunes like “Dime Store Cowgirl.” All night, her gratitude and positive energy lit up the stage, telling the crowd that New York has been very supportive of her music. With her passionate support of social issues such as marriage equality, Musgraves sounds right at home in NYC - and makes her a perfect fit for The Apollo.