Dierks Bentley’s Somewhere on a Beach Tour brings Moosic’s The Pavilion at Montage Mountain its first country concert of 2016
MOOSIC — The 2016 concert season gave the country fans of Northeastern Pennsylvania a reason to dig their boots out the closet early with the Somewhere on a Beach Tour June 2 at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain. If the cowboy hat vendor outside the venue’s gate didn’t set the mood, the abundance of Confederate flags and cornhole games passed on the way through the parking lot did the job in spades. After proper pre-gaming, the crowd made its way into the amphitheatre area for a four-act night of music from Tucker Beathard, Canaan Smith, Randy Houser and Dierks Bentley.
Beathard kicked the night off at 7 p.m. while most of the Pavilion at Montage Mountain crowd were still bagging bottles and tearing down tents. The singer/songwriter’s March 2016 debut single “Rock On” clearly reached an audience with its country radio airplay though, as his short set wrapped up with the first signs of life from the Moosic crowd.
The night shifted towards rock ‘n’ roll when Canaan Smith took the stage shortly thereafter. The singer and his band had the twang of country, but their massive guitar riffs and Smith’s shirtless swagger was equal parts southern rock and arena showmanship. After Smith played a cover of Goo Goo Doll’s “Iris” he wrapped his set up with the 2014 platinum-selling single “Love You Like That,” which was the second jump start the crowd needed going into the second half of the show. Smith’s country-rock fusion got the good ol’ boys out of their pavilion seats, but some were torn on the Virginian’s style.
“They were trying to be too rock,” said Bethlehem resident Ariella Mease.
Mease made the trip from the Lehigh Valley with her friend Lori Cline. Cline agreed with Mease’s sentiments, but she still enjoyed Smith’s set.
“He was good though,” Cline said. “He was very talented.”
Randy Houser, who co-wrote the song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” embodied the honky tonk sound when he took the stage after Smith. The crowd came alive during the singer’s driving openers and stayed energized until Houser performed his acoustic sing-along tune “Like a Cowboy.”
After the hat-clad crowd response overwhelmed him to the point he had to stop playing and take it in, Houser came back with the indie rock-esque “Chasing Down a Good Time,” which seemed an odd choice given the makeup of the singer/songwriter’s set. Houser got back to his strong suit once the song finished, and his set ended like it started: with a hot crowd ready to go for the night’s next act. This time, they only had one more left: Dierks Bentley.
Bentley’s band entered eyesight from both sides of the large black triangular mountain that sat downstage from their microphones. The mountain had steps that led to an elaborate drum kit, which kicked into Bentley’s first song after the singer and his three players started their set with an old fashioned bluegrass breakdown.
Bentley dropped his guitar after two songs and became a front man, grabbing the microphone and playing to the crowd while physically reacting to his lyrics as he sung them. His crowd interaction would extend to crowd surfing, shotgunning a beer with a fan and playing while standing in the seated section of the pavilion, giving fans in the 200s an up-close look at his Martin guitar. Bentley’s crowd interaction and storytelling made the show personal for the crowd, which stayed mostly standing for the performer’s set.
After running the country gamut from traditional to outlaw to pop (he also had his own take on indie country to offer), Bentley donned a pilot’s suit and finished his set with an encore performance of “Drunk on a Plane” while the chrome nose of a plane emerged from the base of triangle mountain.
Hazleton resident Matt Barletta’s post-concert reaction was favorable.
“It was pretty sweet; Dierks, ‘Drunk on a Plane,’ are you kidding me?!”
June 2’s Somewhere on a Beach Tour was my first country concert, and as I waited in the line of cars leaving The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the performers were. The bands were tight, the songs were varied and the names on the bill were showmen as much as they were singers. There’s a reason country music is big business, and just because it appeals to a wide audience doesn’t mean every artist in the genre lacks authenticity. Dierks Bentley’s performance isn’t going to make me run out and buy a pair of cowboy boots, but it did give me a newfound perspective on the genre.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts