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Kacey Musgraves brings romance, heartbreak and '70s vibes to ACL Fest

Musgraves balanced her set between "Golden Hour" songs about being in love and "Star-Crossed" songs about falling out of it.

AUSTIN, Texas — Kacey Musgraves knows how to set a mood. Her Sunday night headlining set during Weekend 1 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival was all about three things: love, heartbreak and the '70s.

"It's a beautiful night," Musgraves said early into the set, after commenting on the full moon. "Perfect to hear some super depressing songs."

That would be the heartbreak – songs from her 2021 album "Star-Crossed," about her 2020 divorce. Musgraves started her set with several "Star-Crossed" songs in a row, including the title track, "Good Wife," "Cherry Blossom," "Simple Times" and the electrifying "Breadwinner." 

But despite her warning that things were going to be depressing, Musgraves seems to be something of a hopeless romantic at heart and she balanced her set with songs from her 2018 album "Golden Hour."

"Do you guys wanna hear more 'Golden Hour?'" she asked after playing the title track. "Only for y'all, alright?" 

As for the '70s, the retro vibes were present in almost every element of Musgraves' show. She sported an era-appropriate pseudo-jumpsuit and giant curls, her production had the gossamer sheen of a '70s variety show and songs like "High Horse" and "Breadwinner" take direct cues from disco. She even covered Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

But perhaps the best part of her show was her banter. Musgraves was born and raised in Texas and she made sure the audience knew it, frequently referencing her upbringing in Golden and even calling out of one of the state's senators during "High Horse."

Musgraves was funny and relatable, whether talking about stopping at BookPeople earlier in the day or stopping to trim her nails on stage so she could play her breakthrough hit, "Merry Go Round," on guitar.

Her ACL set was just an overall fun time and it felt like she was having fun, too – one of the best things an audience member can hope for.

If you missed Musgraves during Weekend 1, she'll be back at the Honda stage next Sunday, Oct. 16.

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