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The Chicks get political at ACL Fest 2022

The Chicks' Weekend 1 set was heavy on politics and light on the band's early catalog.

AUSTIN, Texas — There was an overarching theme to The Chicks' headlining set during Weekend 1 of the 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival.

It was evident before the band even took the stage, when clips from The Runaways, Heart, Blondie and 4 Non Blondes played on the screens before giving way to Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' "Bad Reputation."

When The Chicks themselves kicked off the show with their song "Sin Wagon," lead vocalist Natalie Maines clad in a shirt featuring the face of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the message was clear. This would be a show about the politics of being unapologetic women.

The band's ACL set was packed with songs from their 2020 record "Gaslighter," many of which center on Maines' 2019 divorce. Songs like the title track, "Sleep at Night," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Tights on My Boat" are about a woman's anger – a feeling The Chicks are not only famously familiar with but that they embrace.

And while the handful of older songs and covers The Chicks played at ACL aren't quite as bristling as the newer tracks, they still focused on what it's like to be a woman at odds with expectations, whether that means yearning for "Wide Open Spaces," taking "The Long Way Around" or fearing life's changes ("Landslide").

But The Chicks didn't leave politics at the personal level during the show. There were moments of levity – but those are less memorable than their performance of "March March," when the screens flashed the names of dozens of victims killed by police. Or when a "Beto For Texas" sticker could be seen on Emily Strayer's piano.

Fans hoping to hear more of The Chicks' earlier work might have left ACL Fest feeling a little disappointed. But the band clearly had a mission in mind, and they delivered on what they set out to do.

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