Dierks Bentley Previews 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour: ‘We All Want to Party’
Dierks Bentley's 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour is a summer trek that will be full of surprises — all of them good — while still spotlighting the music wholeheartedly. The country singer is taking the tour's title quite seriously, evoking the literal sounds of summer: fireworks, good music and more.
"We just went there on this tour," Bentley told The Boot and other reporters at a recent tour rehearsal at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. "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 — explosives and putting half-sticks of dynamite in people's mailboxes and lighting stuff on fire. We thought pyro would be a cool thing for this tour.
"The screen, pyro, fire, smoke — it’s fun," he continues. "It’s the first time for me having this many toys to play with, and it’s been a lot of fun."
Indeed, fans will see Bentley playing with a whole lot of toys during his shows on this tour: A giant screen fills the massive back of the stage; a B-stage has been added to the set (which Bentley says is something that he's wanted for quite some time); and the singer even has his own lift — also something he's coveted for a while. While Bentley sings the poignant lyrics of "Riser," he gets onto said lift, which raises him above his stage setup, and he performs the whole song elevated in the air.
Unfortunately, the lift is extremely slow, and during his rehearsal, he was laughing as he was lowered back down to the ground, noting that, “We’re actually getting a faster lift so this is less of a Spinal Tap moment."
But slow or not, Bentley's psyched about the new contraption.
"I’ve always wanted one," he says. "Either that or a toaster that shoots you up in the air."
However, it's a little shaky up there, and Bentley has to be careful about how much he moves (or doesn't) while he's on the lift.
It’s the best feeling because it’s like you’re in your spot. I feel really at home [on stage].[/pullquotes]
"I’m used to moving around," he notes. "It’s kind of like, 'Okay, don’t do too much of this.'
"It's the first time having something like that," Bentley adds, "and I'm just trying to, every year ... keep the fans surprised and keep ourselves surprised and take it somewhere new."
As we said, the 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour is full of surprises, and another big one is the appearance of Dukes of Hazzard actor John Schneider, one of Bentley's childhood heroes. Schneider won't be appearing in person, but he will be introducing the uptempo, hilarious hit "What Was I Thinkin'" (which includes a line about "hood slidin' like Bo Duke") via video, and it's something fans won't want to miss.
"We were in rehearsals, and I thought it would be great ... to have someone else introduce “What Was I Thinkin’,” other than me," Bentley explains. "In my head it was like, 'It would be great to get John Schneider to introduce [the song].'"
Turns out, Bentley's wish came true, and fans will get to see a laugh-out-loud video of Bentley and Schneider doing a little hood sliding.
It's details like that that make the 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour a total package of surprises, on-point songs and a well-oiled set, but getting to this point took quite a bit of work. Bentley and his band have been rehearsing like crazy, and rehearsals aren't all fun and games for the singer.
"After being down in [Bridgestone Arena] for seven days, I feel like I’ve been on the road for a month, doing two shows a day, breathing in all this air," Bentley says. "I’ve definitely already got my road calluses being built back up again. But it's great."
The hardest part for the singer isn't necessarily the rehearsals themselves; it's the stagnant interaction with the black walls of the rehearsal space. When Bentley imaginary high-fives fans in the crowd and waves his hands in the air, the walls ... well, they've got nothing.
"This [rehearsal show] is the hardest show I do all year," Bentley says. "Once we get out on the road with fans, it’s pretty effortless. There’s a lot of work that goes into making it effortless."
Yes, the show is actually the easy part for Bentley. Wherever he is, no matter what type of day he's had or how exhausted he may feel, the instant he gets on stage, he feels alive. He likens it to "... the same way I have heard NASCAR drivers talk about when they put their helmets on — it’s the best feeling because it’s like you’re in your spot. I feel really at home [on stage]."
And once the helmet's on, so to speak, Bentley's focus is on one thing: "We all want to party."
But he's careful to not go overboard with the show. After having three openers, Bentley explains, "I try to pack about three hours of music into a nice, tight 90-minute set. It’s a good length."
Based on his preview show, Bentley's setlist is, indeed, tight. He notes that he wants to be sure not to lose his fans in the slower moments of the show, and he was incredibly selective in choosing the songs.
Once we get out on the road with fans, it’s pretty effortless. There’s a lot of work that goes into making it effortless.
"It has a lot of big moments where everyone’s having a great time," Bentley explains, "and there’s also those moments where you duck off in a corner and you kind of tell a story, like "Riser" or "I Hold On."
"Tempo is real important with it being summertime," he continues. "You've got three bands going on before you, so you want to keep the show rockin'."
Of course, that means that certain songs didn't make this tour's setlist: "Every Mile a Memory," "Long Trip Alone, "Settle for a Slowdown" and other fan-favorite hits will not be part of the 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour.
Still, fans will certainly recognize the songs in Bentley's setlist, and they'll also be introduced to some new music from the openers. Bentley is bringing with him newcomers Maddie & Tae and Canaan Smith, as well as buddy Kip Moore, the latter of whom Bentley describes as someone who's "not afraid to rib me a little bit, and likewise back."
Being an opener on Bentley's tour isn't just great because of his high-energy, massive crowds — the country star treats his openers right.
"I want to make it really hard for whoever takes them out next to top how they were treated on this tour," Bentley says.
And Moore will get some extra stage time, as Bentley is planning to incorporate him into his 2005 hit "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do."
When the (very full) night is over, most fans will trickle out, exhilarated by a 100-percent fantastic show. But, some will linger — and those who linger will be rewarded. After Bentley's last song, "Drunk on a Plane," he and band will take their bows ... and Schneider will eventually reappear.
Intrigued yet? We suggest you stick around.
Bentley's 2015 Sounds of Summer Tour kicks off Friday (June 5) in Raleigh, N.C. A complete list of dates is available on his website.
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