Monday, November 20, 2006

Dixie Chicks concert -- 11-19-06

Often you go to a concert and come home wanting. Either they didn't play your favorite song or they didn't play long enough. Neither could be said about the Dixie Chicks concert Sunday night. This was in stark contrast to the Prince concert we went to a few years ago in the same venue. Despite being what most people would call one of the most prolific songwriters of all time, he only played for 90 minutes. The Dixie Chicks, with only 4 albums to their credit played over 2 hours. Most of the songs on the new album were played.

Looking at the crowd, it would not strike you as being a country crowd. I've been to country shows and these didn't look like your typical attendees. Obviously the band's appeal has crossed over into the mainstream both because of their music and their politics. But to sell the crowd short as being just a pop music crowd would be wrong too. Playing some of their early bluegrass and country tinged songs, like Long Time Gone, White Trash Wedding and Wide Open Spaces, the enthusiasm of the crowd was just as great.

I went into this show much like I believe the band did ... not knowing the reaction of the fans or how enthusiastic they would be. And I think they were pleasantly surprised by that reaction. If the several minute long raucous standing ovation after Not Ready to Make Nice was any indication, these fans came to support the Dixie Chicks. It wasn't just about the music, which was great, it was about what they believe in and what they have went through. The Dixie Chicks merely said what a lot of us had been thinking. By giving voice to this, they gave each of us a little courage that we could do the same. You would have had to have lived in a hole the last few years to not know the story of the Dixie Chicks. Whether you know the saga or not, check out their outstanding documentary, Shut Up and Sing, which we watched earlier in the day. From Peter Travers review in Rolling Stone Magazine:

Life in Bush America gets a blunt, honest telling in this documentary that makes you want to stand up and cheer without ever begging for tears or glib sympathy. Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the chart-topping Dixie Chicks, set off a shit storm at the start of the Iraq War in 2003 when she told a London audience, "We're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." Maines joined Martie Maguire and Emily Robison -- the two sisters who founded the Texas band -- in a media attempt to straighten up without flying right. But a concerted right-wing effort to kill their radio play and concert appearances, especially in the South, had success. Barbara Kopple, who directed this movie firecracker with Cecilia Peck, has been chronicling threats to democracy since Harlan County, U.S.A. in 1977. And she gives due respect to Topic A: free speech. For three years, the camera focuses on the Chicks as wives, mothers, entertainers and political flash points. Their fight to stay uncompromised is inspiring. When Bush himself claims the Chicks have no right to complain about "hurt feelings," Maines lets out a terse "dumb fuck." Amen to that, sister.

In a matter of 90 minutes you can be both ashamed (of the lame redneck response to the Chicks' statement) and extremely proud to be an American because of the strength the band had to stick to their guns in the face of unbelievable controversy. The movie helped to give some context for a lot of the songs on the new album.

Ironically, a couple sitting in front of us at the show were there because their son gave them tickets, courtesy of the Dixie Chicks. Their son is Craig Hymson. He was a producer of Shut Up and Sing and also worked on Bowling for Columbine. They were a really nice couple and I couldn't help thinking to myself, "Why am I not that guy?". How cool is his job?! Instead of working on films and working for causes you believe in, I stick my head inside computers every day. Lame.

Forgive me for being a name-dropper, but the band Jimmy Eat World sat next to us. They're from the valley but have had some national exposure and recently toured with Green Day. Evidently the section we were in was mostly spots held for the Dixie Chicks themselves and VIP's.

The opening act was Bob Schneider, a blues rock artist. He was very good and incorporated a lot of influences including, jazz and reggae.

I could not have had a better time at a concert. This concert had been postponed from it's earlier Sept. 3 scheduled date. Having to wait that long and the building up of the show in my head over that time could have set me up for a huge disappointment. But the Dixie Chicks delivered on every level. They played great (yeah, a country band that actually plays and writes ... rare these days in Nashville), sounded great and were friendly and gracious.

Here are some pics and a review of the concert by our local paper.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

That's pretty cool. Not only did you see a great show, but you got to see it with Jimmy Eats World. I love it when concerts turn out to be great.