Review+Photos by Ken McCain
August 20, 2017 | Mountain View, CA – The summer concert series at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View welcomed in Dierks Bentley’s “What The Hell” Tour. They rolled in with Jon Pardi and Cole Swindell in tow as supporting acts, along with thousands of their fans. The SF Bay Area’s eclectic arts and music scene has a full plate throughout the year and is never in short supply of customers. The Country music scene here is no exception, and on this night it was on full display. From the front row to the back of the lawn fans were on their feet through all three sets, only sitting and resting their dogs in between.
The crowd got a small warm-up from a little, well-traveled bluegrass band called the Bolo Boys Bluegrass Band. (Some suspect it’s a group made up of Bentley and the boys from his and Swindell’s band, though no one has confirmed this.) Jon Pardi came up next to get the juices really flowing, bringing the twang and heart of country music out to the gathering crowd. His approach to this genre is great and the fans enjoyed the 10 song set. Cole Swindell came up after Pardi and really got the party going. Swindell has tons of fans and so many songs that most everyone sang word for word. The evening progressed and brought a nice cool-down to the warm day, and with it the darkening sky. Lights and color and music outdoors filled the venue, a perfect setting for the weekend (or almost anytime), and set the stage for the final act.
Bentley and band hit the stage right near 9pm and played for nearly 2 straight hours. Bentley is no stranger to the scene, debuting his first album 14 years ago. In that time he’s been nominated for a dozen Grammy Awards, 16 CMA Awards (winning three), and a dozen other various industry awards. Quite an impressive resume for one performer, though he’s never been there alone. He has excellent musicians backing him the whole way, and has called on songwriters from time to time to get that perfect tune. One songwriter, Brett Beavers, has helped Bentley with more than a few, helping pen some fan favorites like “Every Mile a Memory”, “Sideways”, and “What Was I Thinkin’ “. All three of these ended up in the setlist, the crowd singing along with every note. I found myself doin’ the same.
A little more than halfway through the set, Bentley took a break from the main stage and ventured out into the crowd. He rounded the lower seating ending up smack-dab in the middle of the venue. A “B stage” was setup where lights and a mic were waiting. He spoke to the adoring fans then began with himself and an acoustic guitar on the uplifting song “Riser”. Everyone erupted in applause as he finished and was then met by his three guitar slinging partners on the remote platform. Only drummer Steve Misamore remained on stage to back up the boys for the next song “Home”. This song comes from Bentley’s 2012 album release by the same name. It was also co-written with Beaver and reached No.1 on Billboard’s Country Singles. Another very inspirational song, “Home” talks about the strength of America, it’s beauty, and it’s struggles. Written after a shooting tragedy in his birth state of Arizona, he and the others came together to try to make sense of the 2011 incident. It was a wonderful song to play on that spot in the middle of all that attended, and seemed more intimate than the large amphitheater it is.
The boys all thanked the crowd and returned to the main stage for the remaining songs. They were met by Cole Swindell as they arrived and broke into his song “Flatliner”. The two are a real dynamic pair on stage as they’ve developed a great friendship from before and during the current tour. It shows as they trade of parts of the song, each taking a section then throwing it back to the other. Bentley then took the reins and blasted through the next three songs “Somewhere on a Beach”, “What Was I Thinkin’ “, and “Sideways” with a lightshow and a fervor equal to the top rock acts across the nation. Of course, no Dierks Bentley concert is quite complete without the chart-topping, Platinum certified, up-tempo song “Drunk on a Plane”. It’s certainly something to see for yourself how he gets a 737 fuselage on stage, and I’m not asking how, I just want to know how I get to ride in it next time and come out on stage like everyone else did!
The “What The Hell Tour” only has a few dates left this year, so catch this show if you can!
Setlist – Dierks Bentley
What The Hell Did I Say
Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)
Am I the Only One
Say You Do
Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do
Troubadour (George Strait cover) (With Jon Pardi)
Every Mile a Memory
Up on the Ridge
Different for Girls (With Virtual Elle King)
I Hold On
Flatliner (Cole Swindell cover) (with Cole Swindell)
Somewhere on a Beach
What Was I Thinkin’
Drunk on a Plane (With Cole Swindell & Jon Pardi)
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