According to Dierks Bentley himself, “Jersey never disappoints and always brings the energy.” That is an extremely accurate statement to describe his stop of the Burning Man Tour at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. Joined by Tenille Townes, Jon Pardi, and even Hot Country Knights, Bentley’s alter-ego’s 90’s country band, the show was definitely a night to remember.
Hot Country Knights set was up first. Once on stage, the band was met with some skepticism from the audience, that was until they figured out who the lead singer truly was. Although average concert-goers may have missed it, the singer with the animal print muscle tee, high waisted bootleg jeans and mullet was none other than Dierks Bentley himself. This set was really a sight to see, as Bentley’s band joined him by dressing up in 90’s outfits and wigs and playing music that sounded like it came straight from that decade. The 20-minute set ended too quickly, as the audience, and even members of the band erupted into laughter and applause.
Next up was the first true opener, country singer-songwriter Tenille Townes. Opening with “White Horse,” The 25-year-old Canadian native shocked the audience with her power vocals and poignant lyrics. As her set went on, it was clear that the audience was getting more and more into her music. With each song, more people stood to their feet and swayed along. After performing “Jersey on the Wall,” Townes told the audience that this was her first time playing at PNC, and it definitely lived up to the hype. She went on to cover, U2’s, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and ended her set with her debut single, “Somebody’s Daughter.” For more about Townes and her incredible talent click here.
Jon Pardi was next to take the stage– and he for sure brought the party. Opening with “What I Can’t Put Down,” followed by a Brooks & Dunn cover of, “My Next Broken Heart,” which was featured on their album REBOOT fans knew they were in for a treat. He continued by playing a few songs off of his 2016 album, California Sunrise. Eventually, he got to “Heartache Medication,” his current single off of his new album which is due September 27th. Being that he was playing to a Jersey crowd, Pardi would’ve been remiss not to honor a song to a New Jersey icon. So that’s exactly what he did by playing Bon Jovi’s, “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which was sung word for word by the audience. Pardi ended his high energy set by playing three of his classics– “Heartache on the Dance Floor,” “Head Over Boots,” and “Dirt On My Boots.”
After two, well, technically three amazing openers, it was finally time for Bentley to take the stage. Starting with “Burning Man,” Bentley captivated the audience with his simple stage set up and powerful presence. After performing his hit song, “Somewhere on a Beach,” Bentley paid homage to the Jersey Shore and even did a call-response with the audience to see where they were from– the choices being north, south, or central Jersey– central being met with the loudest response. Bentley followed with “Black,” and “I Hold On,” two slow and deeply meaningful songs. Those were then contrasted by the upbeat songs “5-1-5-0” and “Living,” Bentley’s current single. It was refreshing to see those two sides of Bentley, both the serious and lightheartedness of his personality was really able to shine through.
About halfway through the set, Bentley brought Jon Pardi back out onto the stage to perform, “Missin’ You Crazy,” Bentley’s favorite song by Pardi. This was followed by Tenille Townes coming back on stage to teach Bentley a little something about female country singers. She sang a tidbit of “Strawberry Wine,” belted out some of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and eventually joined Bentley in singing his massive hit, “Different for Girls.” Next, while singing “Am I The Only One,” Bentley made his way through the amphitheater and crowd to tiny B-stage near the back of the venue.
Once on the B-stage, Bentley pulled a fan onto the stage, swiftly shotgunned a beer, and began a quick acoustic set which consisted of “Come a Little Closer” and “Say You Do,” before returning back to the main stage to finish out the show. Although nearing the end, the crowd was still as rowdy as ever while singing along to “What was I Thinkin’” and “Sideways.” These were the last two songs before the encore, as Bentley thanked the crowd for another amazing and unforgettable show. Walking out to do the encore in a full-on pilot getup, the audience already knew what was coming, as “Drunk on a Plane” was sung in unison by the whole crowd. Bentley played “Free and Easy” to end what was an exhilarating night at PNC.
Dierks Bentley’s Burning Man Tour will be around all summer so make sure not to miss it. The tour will also be stopping at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on August 2nd, so get your tickets now!
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