At The Chicks’ powerful N.J. concert, a stance of unity against devastating odds: review - world cultures

At The Chicks’ powerful N.J. concert, a stance of unity against devastating odds: review

There can be power in silence, in allowing unimaginable hideous truths to speak for themselves.

Although few would associate The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks) with such calculated calm, considering it was singer Natalie Maines’ anti-Iraq war, anti-Bush comments made at a concert in 2003, which led to Weakening the country trio that struck. Industry for years – the first victims of cancellation culture, all for speaking briefly in protest.

But at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Wednesday night, the crowd of about 12,000 didn’t hear Maines or her bandmates, sisters Marty Maguire or Emily Strayer, talk about any of the country’s devastating ills. Instead, they watched the big screen as white stamped letters flash onto a black void in sequence: “Uvalde, 22,” “Buffalo, 10,” “El Paso, 23,” “Parkland, 17.”

Over and over again, dozens of cities and numbers without explanation, as none of them were needed. These were, of course, the statistics of mass shootings in America. And yes, the list has been updated to include “Highland Park, 7.”

This is where we are, folks. The band can’t even complete a two-month concert tour without having to edit their Domestic Terror slideshow for accuracy – an exact example of this unfortunate and disgusting period in US history that we must all endure.

The Chicks perform at the PNC Bank Arts Center

Chicks perform at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.Almanarino | For NJ Advance Media

The damned visual preceded The Chicks’ newer tune “March March,” a protest song that touches not only on firearm culture in this country – words like “Print yourself a gun and take it to the gun range (Ah, cut the shell off, you ain’t going to the gunsmiths)” — but speaks prophetically about abortion rights (single released in 2020): “Telling the ol’ boys in the White Bread Lobby/What they can and can’t do with their ‘body’,” Maines, 47, sneered, to great cheers with Display photos of recent pro-choice rallies on the screen.

Although the two-hour performance of the Texas-born group — their first show in New Jersey in six years — was defined not by moments of anger or desperation, but by their commitment to empowerment, agency and action. This has been the Chicks’ album since their debut album with the Maines, the diamond certified 1998 “Wide Open Spaces” – they’ve always been a band to build and push women forward, hence the devout fan base that stuck with the group after they were wiped out from radio Countryside in 2003 and celebrated their Grammy-winning comeback “Not Ready to Make Nice” in 2006.

The Chicks perform at the PNC Bank Arts Center

Chicks perform at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.Almanarino | For NJ Advance Media

However, it will take another 14 years for The Chicks to release a follow-up album – all paused to raise families – and return in 2020 with the stellar “Gaslighter,” a much more steady, pop-focused LP focused on Maines’ 2019 Divorce and produced by the producer. New Jersey superstar Jack Antonoff (it was also around this time the band omitted “Dixie” from their name, citing their association with Southern history of racism/slavery).

But like most albums released in the ’20s, Pandemic hasn’t been a big part of Gaslighter’s promotional schedule. Only this summer did the group finally hit the road and jam new tracks, like the highly polished Victorious title track—worlds removed from the bluegrass roots of The Chicks—and simpler but no less frightening,” Juliaanna Calm Down,” a loving note of perseverance. : “Just put on your best shoes and walk away like you have nothing to lose,” encourages the chorus.

Although the hilarious “Tights on my Boat” movie got the most backlash, an animated wallpaper on the big screen depicted five members of the US Supreme Court – those who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade last month – lost at sea on a raft. , floats around the two-layered stage before exploding into the depths. Again, the musicians themselves did not need to say a word.

While 10 of the 12 new songs from “Gaslighter” hit the set Wednesday, great vocals accompanied the time-tested hits: a blazing opening performance of Sin Wagon’s song, “Wide Open Spaces,” and a choppy acoustic experience of “Cowboy Take Me.” Away”, where all nine band members (the three female lead and six tour members, including Maines’ 21-year-old son, Jackson, on guitar) sat respectively at the front of the stage for an intimate piece.

During that vocal segment, Americana icon and opener Patti Griffin appeared to perform her 2013 tune “Don’t Let Me Die in Florida” with the band. Serious crowding that looked like the after-party session was a built-in moment on the show. Griffin preceded the set by 45 minutes highlighted by a full cover of Bruce Springsteen’s epic “Jungleland,” a unique and jarring version according to its unique perspective.

The Chicks perform at the PNC Bank Arts Center

Patti Griffin opens up to The Chicks at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.Almanarino | For NJ Advance Me

With The Chicks starting set, Maguire was easy on the violin, Strayer skillfully playing a range of banjos and guitars and Maines’ vocal performance was crisp, enthusiastic and rarely fluctuated—very few signs of the stress that caused several tour dates to be canceled late last month. Instead, The Night in Central Jersey was poignant in the cross-section of the band’s continued prowess. Even with their gaps, they’re still one of the modern country’s greatest acts, with discography pieces worth digging deep (not to mention 13 Grammy Awards in the draw).

As they and their fans navigated these turbulent times, they were sure to build an evocative performance that could not just be a sexy night out but as a mirror of the day, as unpopular as it may sound. Late on set, a downtempo rookie named “For Her” played like a hymn and raucous call while Means sobbed and black and white pictures of girls and young women appeared on the screen, all facing the crowd.

Across a performance full of touching moments, this was perhaps the sharpest knife-edge – an unfettered view of who these latest abortion provisions will affect, and whose lives are likely to be altered or destroyed.

As the song reached its climax, Maines, Maguire, Strayer and a touring violinist rose to the front of the stage in solidarity, standing tall against the odds. Maines continued to sing, a simple and imperative imperative: “Whoa, show love. Her, hers.”

Chicks song list

July 6, 2022 – PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

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Bobby Olivier can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed And the Facebook.

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