Eric Church and Ashley McBryde rocked the 2019 ACM Awards on Sunday night (April 7). Together, the pair performed a sinewy, menacing version of "The Snake" at the awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev.

The duet began with percussion that sounded like a real snake rattling and Church plucking out strident riffs on an acoustic guitar. McBryde then chimed in with fierce acoustic guitar riffs of her own, as she came into view onstage next to Church.

Throughout the song, the two musicians speak-sang the lyrics to one another in crisp, clipped tones, in a nod to the biting political message of the tune. McBryde's enunciation especially was precise and pointed, like it was grid-snapped.

As the duo performed, three-dimensional video of real snakes appeared behind each of them, which amplified the dangerous vibe of the song.

From Church's most recent -- and ACM-nominated -- album Desperate Man, "The Snake" is an allegory for the divisive two-party political system that is splitting the country apart. “I believe most of them feel the way I do – regardless of their voter registration.” Church says of the current political climate.

“Some of this stuff you look at and go, ‘What the f--k? Why is this hard?’ the artist shares. “Why can we not get infrastructure done? Why don’t we do more clean energy? Why are [prescription] drugs so expensive? Because it’s a lobbyist-based system. It’s a money-based system. Either way, we’re f--ked.”

Church has long been one of McBryde's loudest self-proclaimed fans: They're signed to the same label and management company, and the recently named ACM New Female Artist of the Year has joined Church onstage in the past.

In addition to her victory in the New Female Artist of the Year category, McBryde is also nominated for Female Artist of the Year at the 2019 ACM Awards. Church, meanwhile, is up for Album of the Year.

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