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Dixie Chicks
August 13, 2000
At The Compaq Center
Houston, TX

by Samuel Barker
August 14, 2000

Dixie Chicks! Some people flourish when they're in a comfortable environment with people they know, and the Dixie Chicks are those kind of people. Coming from Dallas, they weren't strangers to the Houston area. The story of the Dixie Chicks is an amazing one. They were not a group of girls being shopped around the country by their parents to be sold off to Disney or one of the big record labels at a young age, they were hard working female musicians who have paid their dues over the last 11 years. Seeing as they just came to prominence in the last 3 years, people think they just sprouted up overnight but a steady diet of playing on Dallas street corners and small bars gave these girls a taste of being "real" musicians. What started out as two sister playing in a bluegrass band has become something big, something special.

The wonderful thing about these girls is the fact that they aren't just mouthpieces and pretty bodies for songwriters, they are the songwriters and the musicians. Natalie Maines played accoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass during the set, Martie Seidel played fiddle for the show, and also plays accoustic bass on album, and Emily Robison plays guitars, dobro, and banjo. Talent runs deep in this band, and it's refreshing to see women musicians able to do it all by themselves. The backup band for them is small for a group such as The Dixie Chicks. It consists of Natalie's father, Lloyd Maines on table steel, a bassist, a pianist, a drummer, and a lead guitaist. Seeing the great deal of songwriting and musical talent this band holds, it's no wonder they are the all-time most selling country artists ever. In a genre full of performers with no talent beyond being a mouthpiece for studio songwriters, the Dixie Chicks step beyond all that. They could be what the Beatles were for rock n' roll, a group that controls their music in all facets: writing, arranging, recording, and performing.

The opener for this show was Patty Griffin who actually wrote a song with the Dixie Chicks which she performed with them during their set. She was more rock oriented than country, and that was fine by me. She rocked hard, and put on a great performance. She too had a small group of her(on vocals and guitar), a lead guitarist, a bassist, drummer, and pianist. Her set was fun to watch, and got you warmed up for the main set of the night from the Dixie Chicks. You could hear a bit of disappointment in her voice due to the lousy response she was getting from all the Dixie Chicks fans, but I for one walked away impressed by this woman.

After a quick intermission full of games and fun, the Dixie Chicks took the stage. Since it was the "Fly Tour" they covered the stage with a curtain made to look like a giant pair of pants with a huge zipper in them. The set opened by the zipper falling to the ground and as it fell, the pants followed. With this, the first song, "Ready To Run" started. I was amazed by the enery these girls had and the way Natalie Maines' vocals were just as strong as they were on album. Martie and Emily were running around playing their instruments to the tee and also giving some backup vocals while never missing a note. The set went fast, despite them playing over 2 hours of music, and you were left feeling let down that it was over when the set concluded. This is a sign of a great performance, it's goes by fast, and leaves you wanting more. The highlights for me were when they played "Hello Mr. Heartache" which has an awesome old school honky tonk sound to it, and the scenery for "Cowboy Take Me Away" which had a huge moon rising behind the stage during the song. Other wonderful moments included "Sin Wagon" which was a fun song to watch. The effect of the song was felt greatly when they dropped a huge red satin curtain behind the stage, and the wind blew it adding a really sexy feel to everything. The first encore song was "Goodbye Earl" which was awesome because Emily and Martie went up to the nosebleed section to play, and Natalie went to the back of the floor section so everyone could get an upclose view of the girls. It was nice to see them want to get close to their fans and put on an amazing show. The night closed with "Wide Open Spaces" which is a song any young person can relate to. We all head out on our own one day, some of us fall down and some of us reach the top......these girls have reached the top.

Samuel Barker is a Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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