Dierks Bentley invited a handful of guests to a private preview of his new Sounds of Summer tour on Monday, showing off a top-tier production that mixed all the major-league special effects with Bentley’s personal brand of brooding vocals and boy-next-door charm.
Hot on the heels of three consecutive Number Ones from his seventh album, Riser (“Say You Do,” “I Hold On” and “Drunk on a Plane”), the singer is carrying a huge amount of momentum into the tour, which kicks off June 5th in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a result he’s going big, giving fans a full-blown rock production with all the bells and whistles.
“We just went there on this tour,” he told reporters following the rehearsals. “In the past, I’ve tried to use video production and other stuff sparingly and focus on the music and the band, but it’s called the Sounds of Summer Tour, and fireworks were a big part of my summers growing up — you know, explosives and putting half-sticks of dynamite in people’s mailboxes and lighting stuff on fire — so we thought pyro would be a cool thing for this tour. It’s the first time for me to have so many toys to play with.”
With only four days to iron out any kinks before hitting the road, Bentley ran through a portion of his show with its full lighting, sound and video setups, plus new elements he was keen to show off, including pyrotechnic fireballs, a satellite stage and even a moving platform that lifts him off the stage at a key moment in the set.
“I’ve always wanted one — either that or a toaster that shoots you up in the air,” the 39-year-old entertainer joked about the lift. “It’s a little shaky up there. I’m used to moving around and its like, ‘OK, don’t do too much of this.'”
Bentley performed five songs for his small Nashville audience, each with its own big production element. Uptempo rockers like “5-1-5-0” will be his 90-minute show’s bread-and-butter, and the singer has reimagined a few things that highlight the diversity of his sound, like the banjo and slide-mandolin of “Up on the Ridge.” Of course, “Drunk on a Plane” will deliver a soaring, booze-fueled climax to the show (and maybe a little something extra for patient fans), but he was also careful to include a few slower, more emotional moments as well. “I Hold On” — the song inspired by the passing of his father — will still figure prominently in the set list, bringing a big dose of hushed vulnerability to the show. And new for this year, the album’s title track, “Riser,” gets a spectacular treatment fitting of its name and drawing all eyes to Bentley.
“My show is really audience interactive and it’s about feeding off of them, but I have a few moments where I feel like I can do something special,” he said. “Then I have to get back to rocking — it’s 10 p.m. and people have been out there all day long. There’s plenty of time to go play an acoustic show at the Station Inn to satisfy that creative itch. On the road, we’re there to rock ’em.”
Bentley’s Sounds of Summer Tour will visit 40 cities starting June 5th in Raleigh, North Carolina, and features Kip Moore, Maddie & Tae and Canaan Smith as special guests.