As the 4th of July fast approaches, the Sounds of Summer Tour is in full-swing. Leading man Dierks Bentley and his all-star cast of Kip Moore, Maddie & Tae and Canaan Smith are heating things up on their summer trek together. Our good friends at 92.5 XTU always throw one hell of a party, and last night Dierks & Co. joined forces at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ to extend the weekend for just a few more hours.
While Dierks is still riding the wave of success from his last record, the rest of the tour’s lineup are making music presently. Just three days ago, opener Canaan Smith released his debut album Bronco. In the wake of the success of their massive #1 hit single “Girl In a Country Song,” Maddie & Tae are set to release their debut LP Start Here on August 28. Kip Moore is getting ready to unleash his sophomore effort Wild Ones on August 21. The new disc is the follow-up to his 2012 debut Up All Night which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart.
Canaan Smith kicked off the evening’s festivities, dropping tunes from his debut LP that’s hot off the presses. It was a great set to end an awesome week for Smith. In addition to his album dropping, his hit single “Love You Like That” was certified gold with over 500,000 copies sold. Smith is certainly one of country’s hottest up-and-comers, and the Sounds of Summer Tour is proving to be a great springboard for him.
Maddie & Tae took the stage, both with guitars in hand, and treated the crowd to harmonies that are as pretty as they are. These two young ladies are prepping for the release of their debut album as well after two hugely successful singles, and they’re doing a great job of giving the tracks momentum in a live setting as the disc’s release date approaches. Highlights from the set included “Sierra,” their latest single “Fly,” and of course “Girl In a Country Song.”
Kip Moore walked out onto the stage with a backwards cap, ripped up t-shirt, and a killer red Gibson ES-335 slung over his shoulder. He made his purpose clear with the first strum of the strings, opening with “Wild Ones” – the title track from his upcoming album. Moore made a strong showing of his new material. He also dropped “Come and Get It,” “I’m To Blame,” and “Magic” from the new record.
Moore laid down more of his previous hits and fan favorites, as well as a few surprises. He tore through tracks like “Beer Money,” “Crazy One More Time,” and “Hey Pretty Girl.” He also boldly covered Jimmy Eat World‘s “The Middle” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” both of which garnered a favorable reaction from the crowd and some singing along as well. He closed out the set with his #1 smash hit single “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck.” Moore as toured relentlessly as of late, and will continue to do so right through the release of Wild Ones and into the fall. His debut album Up All Night was a huge success, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #3 on Billboard Top Country Albums. The disc is nearing gold status with almost 500,000 units sold.
The man of the hour Dierks Bentley exploded onto stage – literally – amidst a plethora of pyro singing his big hit “Sideways.” With the crowd in a frenzy, Dierks tore into another party anthem “Am I The Only One” as the crowd hoisted up their beers and sang along. He went on to drop fan favorites like “Tip It On Back” and “Every Mile a Memory” as well as #1 smash hits like “Feel That Fire, “5-1-5-0” and “Come a Little Closer.” About midway through the set, Dierks laid down the the tour’s theme song “Sounds of Summer.” Missing from the set this time sadly was “Bourbon In Kentucky,” a haunting ballad from Riser that Bentley played on his tour of the same name last fall. Other than that, it was quite a hit-filled evening.
A huge treat for fans came when Dierks brought Kip Moore back out on stage for a duet of “Lot of Leavin’ Left To Do.” The surprises had just begun, as Dierks and a few members of his band made their way to a small stage towards the back of the amphitheater. It was there he made it clear that he was excited to be playing in the Philly area. “Very few people have as much regional pride as ya’ll do,” he stated.
Looking down at the small stage, and then gazing back at the main stage, Dierks shared some deep thoughts about stardom. “You work so hard to headline that big stage back there, but this little stage like here is like our back porch. This is the coolest back porch in Pennsylvania or New Jersey!” With that, he proceeded to play “Back Porch.” After two more songs and a brief cover on Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer,” Dierks made his way back to the main stage were he was joined by Maddie & Tae for “Free and Easy (Down The Road I Go).”
Dierks closed out the night with back to back hit anthems. He took the stage again with “What Was I Thinkin'” and then he ask the crowd, “Philly, there’s no way we can take this party any higher is there?” And of course, the only way it could would be to throw back beverages at about 35,000 feet. Bentley broke out his massive hit “Drunk on a Plane” which garnered him the Video of The Year Award at the 50th Annual ACM Awards back in April. It was the perfect end to an epic summer night, just as the rain started to fall.
Dierks Bentley is still touring in support his latest smash hit album Riser, which debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on Billboard Top Country Albums. The disc garnered him a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album at the 57th Grammy Awards. Bentley signed with Capitol Records back in 2003. Since then, he’s released seven studio albums that have produced 13 number one hit singles on the country charts. His self-titled debut LP and his sophomore effort Modern Day Drifter have both reached platinum status. Throughout his career, Bentley has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards. In addition, he’s garnered two CMT Awards, two CMA Awards, and one ACM Award. – by Matt Bishop