The last time the band now known as The Chicks played in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2016, they still had the word "Dixie" attached to their name as they embarked on their first tour in 10 years. The group — comprised of lead singer Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer — likely didn't intend for it to be another six years before they returned again, but they made up for lost time in a 2+ hour concert at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving on October 10, the first of two straight nights at the venue.
In front of a nearly sold-out crowd that skewed female, the Chicks put on a show that relied heavily on songs from their latest album, 2020's Gaslighter, which was released soon after they changed their name due to the negative connotations surrounding the word "Dixie." That album was inspired by the personal lives and divorces of the band members, most notably Maines, featuring songs with highly specific references like the title song, "Sleep at Night," and "Tights on My Boat."
Ten of the 23 songs the group played on Monday night came from that 12-song album, an indication that the Chicks were itching to showcase the music for their fans as this is their first tour since the album was released. Although "Gaslighter" is the signature song from that release, fan favorites appeared to be the jaunty "Texas Man," which echoes their previous work while still telling a personal narrative, and "March March," a protest song that becomes even more powerful when combined with the video, which concludes with a seemingly never-ending list of Black people who have been unjustly killed (the list becomes even longer in the version shown behind the band on stage).
As with their 2016 show, which came amid the run-up to that year's hugely consequential presidential election, the Chicks fearlessly let their political leanings be known.
Maines wore a blouse with "It's My Body" written on it, which is both a lyric from their song "Everybody Loves You" — during which Strayer played a piano with a "Beto for Texas" sticker prominently displayed on it — and a pointed allusion to the abortion debate. They also featured animated caricatures of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, and five of the six conservative Supreme Court justices during "Tights on My Boat," a song about an affair Maines' ex-husband had, but that took on a new meaning with the visuals.
The mostly high-energy night, underscored by a bank of video walls on stage that displayed a variety of supplemental animation and video footage, was complemented by a six-song section in which the entire band sat down near the front of the stage to play jam band versions of songs like "Lubbock or Leave It," "Cowboy Take Me Away," and "Truth No. 2." The latter was written by opening act Patty Griffin, who re-emerged to sing it as a duet after delivering her own powerful set. Notably, none of the six songs came from the newest album, a nod to how the group has changed over the years.
Another change is that the tour has now become a family affair for the Chicks. Maines' dad Lloyd — who was one of the first three members of the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame alongside Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan — has long gone out on tour with the group, but now her son, Slade Pasdar, is featured as a guitarist. Maguire's daughter Eva also joined her mom in playing fiddle during the poignant song "For Her."
Even though the concert tilted toward Gaslighter, the Chicks know the songs their fans want to hear, which is why they ended the night with the barnburners "Not Ready to Make Nice" and "Goodbye Earl." Both songs feature women standing up to people who have done them wrong, a fitting conclusion to a night in which giving strength to women was the focal point.
The Chicks will play a second show at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory on October 11 at 7:30 pm.