Dierks Bentley kicks off his "Riser" tour tonight in Charlotte, NC. "I've always been one of those guys who designs sets on cocktail napkins in the back of the bus with the guys in my band," he said at a tour rehearsal earlier this week. This time, however, he's going to raise his game.
"The past couple of years, we've been afforded the chance to step it up a little bit. I got a couple of calls from my business manager informing me to not be surprised when I see how much the production cut into the costs," he joked, but he said he felt the time was right to take that next step. "The older you get, the more you do this, and the less you take it for granted. You never know what tomorrow will bring."
With the success of "Riser" and the chart-topping success of "I Hold On," Bentley feels like he's being afforded a major opportunity. "I feel like I am in a sweet spot with 'Riser' going over so well, and to have a chance to play these amphitheaters and have all this great support, I told everyone to put together a show like it's the last one we would ever want to do. That's what I wanted to do. You want to make your show stand out and be unique. It feels like when we were first going out on the bus all over again. It's really exciting."
For his rehearsals, Bentley chose "The Steel Mill" -- located just north of Music City, a place he knows well. He said it works because he can easily simulate the feel of a summer concert there.
"It gets real hot in here, but it represents what it feels like when it's 85-90 degrees. You have to get your voice used to it, but this is a great facility to hang all your stuff up, and see what it's going to look like. I can sing the whole show with my eyes closed, and I go around and pretend like I'm high-fiving people. It's a great facility," he reasons, "but it's time to go out there. We need to see people," he says with a smile.
Opening on the tour will be Jon Pardi, Chase Rice, and Chris Young. Bentley said he's ready to have a good time with his opening acts. "Touring with me has always been about the interaction. A lot of that started with Cross Canadian Ragweed. I got a chance to open for those guys in the Texas area, and that also extended to Kenny Chesney, who made it so personal. He brings you in, and makes you a part of his show. That's where it comes from for me. I've always called the guys that we tour with, and tried to get them involved in the show. I look for guys who are hungry. Harlan Howard always said that when you stop being hungry, you stop writing great songs. I want to tour with people who will go out there night after night and give it all they got. It's not a joke to them. They'll fight for every fan every night, and make it harder for me to go out and close. I also look for good people off the stage, normal, down to earth, and cool, that's important too."
The singer promises a high-energy show, and promises the set list will reflect that. There's a lot of songs like 'Long Trip Alone' or 'Trying To Stop Your Leaving,' that for different times would be great. But, for this particular show, they don't work. It's all up-tempo. I think the only down song we're doing is 'Settle For a Slowdown,' which is pretty much a mid tempo. There's a few big moment songs like 'Home' and 'I Hold On,' but we're going to try to keep all the fans engaged. We're not going to take the foot off the gas pedal for awhile. That's how I learned to do it. People have worked hard all week, and they want to party, so let's hit them as hard as we can."