Before the concert began, as the stage was being set, I stood up from my floor seat to take the second Snapchat of life. Someone to my left yelled, “No pictures!”
Honestly, who cares, I kept going because you don’t have a chance to include the Dixie Chicks’ MMXVI World Tour into your social media brand everyday. My 17 viewers want more than me flashing the peace sign with a dog nose on, and this location was hot, hot, hot.
A friend used some sort of complicated credit card reward system to score us almost affordable seats only a brisk sprint from the stage. This position separated us from the dozen or so other pals scattered around Madison Square Garden, but everyone was having difficulties with pissy Dixie Chicks fans. One of my friends said the people behind them left because they stood during “Easy Silence.” Another group witnessed a pair of women being escorted to a different section for singing along too loudly and causing complaints.
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One positive interaction was reported by Brian, who said, “There were three middle-aged women who politely asked us not to stand early in the concert, but then halfway through changed their minds and encouraged us to stand back up and offered us popcorn.” You know what I got offered? WEED, BABY. Folks started to relax by the time we’d finished lustily singing “Goodbye Earl” together, a song about getting away with murdering wife beaters.
At this point, political grandstanding has become part of the Dixie Chicks persona, but to be honest their references to politics felt a little paint-by-numbers. In the “Goodbye Earl” video art collage of old-timey abusive men (mostly Marlon Brando?), some of the few modern references were Chris Brown, O.J. Simpson, and Donald Trump. A picture of Trump with horns scrawled on his head got a huge cheer from the audience, but seemed off-topic after seeing Rihanna’s swollen face flashed on the screen.
There was also a crude animation reminiscent of a Terrance and Philip cartoon, in which everyone from Chris Christie to Elizabeth Warren was shown puppeteered across a discordant pixelized background. It was again a reference to politics that felt like more of a gesture than a position, as far as I could tell five tequila sodas in. But then they dropped American flag-colored confetti on us, so I stopped giving a shit:
During set up, Natalie Maines’ tweets on prison reform and other issues flashed by, and I expected the concert to open with some reference to the Orlando shootings, perhaps even calling on politicians to take a stand on gun control. Nope. Lights flashed in our faces, the screen went up, and the three ladies came out strumming to “The Long Way Around.”
Though they took the long way, they did eventually end with a message to the LGBT community. During their very final song, a cover of Ben Harper’s “Better Way” they referred to “some asshole” who did something, you know what, and flashed the Gay Pride flag on the screen. It came very late, especially considering how many LGBT people who seemed to be in the audience. (I am largely judging by my friends who were there, and the nice group of men with the weed.)
Aside from Ben Harper, we got covers of “Landslide,” a tribute to Prince via “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and “Daddy Lessons.”
“Good job, B,” said Natalie Maines as the song ended, which made me very uncomfortable.
Whatever criticisms I had, during the show I was completely taken in by the music and energy of the crowd. A group of models to our left danced in their seats until one passed out across them like it was a bench in Port Authority. Strangers high-fived over murdering men who abuse women. People complained, found themselves moved to tears by the music, and were finally ready to make nice.
Images and video taken by Katie Rotondi.