If there was a night to spread your legs at Dos Equis Pavilion, it was Saturday night when the venue hosted country star Dierks Bentley. The lawn seats were still vastly covered by bodies, but the sizable gaps of green indicated the threat of rain looming as a possibility potentially scared off fans still planted on the fence about attending.
There was a general relaxed presence all around Dos Equis Pavilion. As people briskly passed through the small cluster that made up the entrance line, patrons comfortably lounged on the covered benches while the opening acts played, taking in the newly arrived fall weather. The cool breeze carried whiffs of funnel cake along with it, a reminder of the impending State Fair of Texas. It’s like the combination of the acts and the weather created the chemical compound for Zoloft.
This isn’t to say the seats were empty or the fans weren’t into the music. The spirits in the amphitheater were lively, a little raucous at times even, but if someone bumped into you, they would earnestly apologize to make sure you were all right before heading off their own way. It felt like a rock show that knew it had work in the morning. That even though it was a Saturday night, people were acutely aware that their hangovers took longer to recover from than they once did.
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Before Bentley took the stage, the Brothers Osborne made the stage their home for a fantastic set. Their music is unmistakably country but evokes the feeling of a more deep-fried rock than a traditional twangy delivery to create a 50/50 marriage of classic rock and country. They swept the crowd onto their feet with musical arrangements of complex guitar riffs laid out over relentless, powerful drums, to accompany lead vocalist T.J. Osborne’s presence.
On the Brothers Osborne’s last song, "It Ain’t My Fault," they tore the house down when they turned a three-and-a-half-minute song into a full tour de force rock jam session. If you think watching someone play the guitar is boring, you haven’t seen John Osborne play. Head back, eyes rolled up, drops of sweat landing on fingers that were a blur, Osborne stood front and center for a guitar solo that had no choice but to, at some point, end, but if the world was perfect, never would.
As much as the Brothers Osborne made it impossible to follow them, when Bentley appeared onstage the (feminine) roar of approval made it clear he was the star of the night. He swaggered to center stage, dirty golden beard hiding a wry smile that shone as a beacon of his confidence and personable likability that could make a large room seem small if he was in it. He had all the cool of a handsome youth pastor without any of the creepy.
Bentley opened with his hit, “I Hold On,” displaying his youthful guitar with the classic frantic plucks of a banjo. He offers a musical comfort food with a large jolt of caffeine. The mix of having a classic country presentation, but then having him run into the crowd and jump on the railings holding back fans. Him holding his mic in the air, the crowd singing in response, all the while unexpected selfies erupting from shaking hands.
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A good drinking game for the night was to tilt your head back for a swig every time a bra landed on the stage. If you played the game properly, you would have been too drunk to leave, left in a stupor at the end of the night with a large swath of newly single men. The amount of bras were especially odd considering the sound of most of his songs for the evening. Every song had a quasi-inspirational sound that seemed tailor-made for a Come to the Ozarks vacation ad or a car commercial.
Every time a new piece of underwear hit the stage, he would smile with a feigned shocked look, graciously give a little nod like he was holding the door open for a lady, and continue to sing with an almost evangelical style. When taking moments to talk with the crowd, Bentley would close his eyes, raise his hand over his head, and speak with an empathetic sincerity of a revival preacher that chose Dos Equis Pavilion as his tent.
The rain never did break free from the dark clouds overhead, so maybe Bentley truly is a holy man.