Dixie delightBy Wade Kwon
When the Dixie Chicks last came to town, it was May 2003 for the Top of the World tour, only two months since the groupâ€™s insult to the president.
The controversy was still raging. It couldâ€™ve been the night they drove the Dixie Chicks down.
I had missed them when they played at the downtown music festival, City Stages, years before, when they were still relative nobodies. But on this night, they were competing head to head with the opening night of the same festival.
They were performing at the largest venue in town, the BJCC Arena, which holds 19,000 people. Security had been tightened, thanks to death threats and other nonsense.
I had nosebleed seats, and unfortunately, I couldnâ€™t find someone to take my spare ticket. I couldâ€™ve scalped it before the show, but I had been over at the festival to catch what little I could. Yeah, I skipped opening act Joan Osborne â€” but seriously, what if God was one of us?
By the time I arrived, all the fans were already primed for the main event. The crowd was near capacity. Looks like the core fans still came out by the thousands to see if these gals could deliver.
The stage was unlike any Iâ€™ve ever seen. A curving sloping walkway spanned the perimeter of the floor. The Chicks could run all around the walkway to play to all sides of the house, including a very lucky set of fans in the floor seats inside the perimeter. The walkway also had embedded video displays, so the entire walkway could show computer-timed images, backgrounds, colors and patterns. It was beyond impressive.
Also within the perimeter was a raised stage for most of the backing band. The nosebleed seats turned out to be one of the best vantage points for seeing the whole multimedia show all at once.
When the Chicks took the stage, the crowd erupted in a deafening screaming roar. In the many concerts and sporting events Iâ€™ve attended worldwide, Iâ€™ve never heard this much noise from people. It was so loud, it hurt my ears.
It was dang impressive.
These were some fans. It didnâ€™t matter about the controversy, the protests, the cold shoulder from the industry. For us, it was a privilege to see them perform live in the hometown. I certainly didnâ€™t care about their politics, though I did admire their tenacity in times of adversity.
And, I do love me some sass.
The songs were incredible live. â€œGoodbye, Earlâ€ was the raucous opener. â€œGodspeed (Sweet Dreams)â€ will never be the same for me after seeing them perform it in person. â€œSin Wagonâ€ was the kickass encore closer.
The women in the audience (and the audience was mostly women) ate it up. They cheered with unmatched frenzy. If Chicks rule, then these chicks were loyal subjects.
Maybe their outspokenness cost them friends, fans and funds. But that night, I saw the Dixie Chicks struttinâ€™ their stuff. And I saw their fans show an unabashed outpouring of support.
A memorable night by a country mile.
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