Dierks Bentley brought his Mountain High Tour to USANA Amphitheater this past Wednesday with The Brothers Osborne and LANCO. There was some shuffling of dates to make this show happen. I believe the concert was originally supposed to take place in July, then it was rescheduled for August 30, and finally, August 29 was the date they settled in on. Dierks mentioned later in the show that he changed the date because the University of Utah was playing their football opener against Weber State on August 30th and didn’t want to conflict with that. I’m not sure if that was the real reason, or in jest, but the crowd sure loved it regardless.
I showed up as The Brothers Osborne took the stage. I hadn’t heard too much from them so I was happy to get the chance to hear their music. I was immediately impressed with lead guitarist John Osborne. The guy shreds. He had some amazing solos and brought a real rock sensibility to the already heart thumping country music. T.J. Osborne was solid on vocals. He has this rich low baritone bordering on bass voice that had many men trying to sing in that range, and many women melting at the sound of his pipes. He did a great job of getting the crowd going by walking to both ends of the enormous USANA Amphitheater stage so he could reach the whole audience. He called out to the lawn and they roared back with gratitude for being recognized.
The exciting but sometimes difficult thing about being a support act is that it’s your job to warm up the crowd. But it’s also your job to warm up the crowd. It’s not always an easy task. I noticed people here and there getting up and dancing, but the majority of the front half of the venue was seated. T.J. commented that this was a show where people should be up and dancing, and encouraged the seated audience to do so going forward. Unfortunately, he said that right before they went into a slow song. The timing wasn’t great for that comment, however, once that song was over, the band finished their set with some big time upbeat country songs. The audience rose to their feet and remained there for the rest of the Brothers Osborne’s set. They finished with “It Ain’t My Fault” and the crowd was singing and clapping along as if it was the last song of the entire evening.
While the crew was setting up for Dierks Bentley, there was a DJ set up on the back of the seated area facing the lawn section. I believe his name was DJ AYDAMN. He played songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey and “Back in Black” by AC/DC. But when he played country songs, the crowd really got into it. He played “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks and the place went nuts. I looked out into the lawn and people were dancing and singing as if they were actually at a Garth Brooks concert. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see that. It was pretty cool. If there was any doubt after Brothers Osborne, then the DJ assured me that the crowd was more than warmed up for Dierks.
The lights went out, and the entire audience stood right up. They were clearly chomping at the bit for Dierks Bentley to come out. He then appeared on a riser behind the drummer holding an acoustic guitar. The crowd was so loud that I couldn’t make out what the song was for about twenty seconds. Finally, I could hear that he was playing the title track off of his latest album The Mountain. He then broke into “I Hold On”. It was a great start to a really good night. Dierks ran out through the crowd, right by me actually. Try not to get too jealous when I tell you that as he ran by me he gave me a high five. Dierks sounded great, the crowd was really into it, and that combo will always make for a perfect concert.
If you’ve never been to a country concert, I recommend checking it out. It’s just a totally different experience than other shows I’ve been to. There is this unique sense of being there for a good time, letting loose, and just enjoying the music. Now you might be saying, “Isn’t that ever concert ever?”. And I get that you might think that. But there is just something different when it’s country music. Now I’m not even a die-hard country fan, I just totally appreciate the atmosphere at these shows. Give it a try. You may not be converted to country music, but you’ll really enjoy the country music concert experience!
Now since this is the Mountain High Tour, Dierks mentioned how happy he was to be back in the Mountains. The Arizona native talked about how much he enjoyed loved the west and returning to the region. He said that this is the closest he’s been to his home state on this tour so he was treating it like a hometown show.
I was disappointed to have missed seeing LANCO. People had been telling me that they are a great live band so it was unfortunate that I was unable to catch their set. Because of this, you can imagine my excitement when I saw LANCO lead singer Brandon Lancaster walk out to do a song with Dierks. Dierks asked Brandon what song they were singing, suggesting that they do something from 90’s country music. So Lancaster looked to Dierks band and said “Grundy”. Dierks looked over to the band, told them what key the song was in, and just like that they broke out into John Michael Montgomery’s 1995 hit “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”. It appeared as if every fan in attendance knew all the words to this country gem. Dierks and Brandon looked like they were having a blast on stage. My guess is they’ve done this song or others like it on other parts of the tour, but the fun they seemed to be having looked genuine, as was the excitement of the crowd to see them together.
The most poignant and touching moment of the concert was when Dierks dedicated his song “Riser” to Draper Fire Chief Matt Burchett who passed away in the line of duty while fighting one of the huge fires in California. Dierks stated that “He didn’t get out, but because of him others are (out of the fire). Some family and friends of Chief Burchett were in attendance, and I’m sure it was a special moment for them as it was for us in the audience who weren’t privileged to know him.
On a lighter note, Dierks made his way to the platform where DJ ADAYMN had been earlier in the night. He brought his acoustic and sang a couple songs. He also invited a man on to the platform to shotgun a beer with him. Dierks said that he was the reigning champ and wanted to see if the man could beat him. In surprising fashion, the man in the Dallas Cowboys hat won and the lawn went crazy for him. Dierks then returned to the main stage to finish the remainder of his set. He closed out the main set with “Sideways” changing one of the lyrics to say “Hey I like your sign”, referring to some twins who had a bright pink sign saying “Twins Love Dierks”. That had to have made their night. And it was an impressive improvised lyric change. He then left and the crowd roared for his return.
When Dierks came back, he was in pilots gear, standing on a platform that would take him into the air as if he was in an airplane cockpit. He then sang, “Drunk On a Plane”. I’m not a fan of one song encores, but with the production value that went into this song, It made sense to end with this and close the show. The audience could have listened to another hour. But isn’t that usually the case when we’re seeing bands we like?
Dierks Bentley and Utah seem like the perfect match. I can’t imagine anyone having a bad time at this show. I found myself just picking a spot in the general admission pit, and seeing what was happening with the different people my eyes fell on. People were always smiling, always singing, and high fiving when they heard a song they liked. What more can you ask for?!