WASHINGTON, October 13, 2012 —On the day Gio Gonzalez became the first 20 game winning pitcher of the 2012 season, multi-platinum country musician Dierks Bentley made good on his promise and performed the final show of the NatsLive post-game concert series.
This being the fourth of the post-game concert series of the season, it wasn’t initially supposed to be Bentley performing here, in fact he was supposed to start of series at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, Bentley’s father fell ill just before the concert was to take place and had to bow out. His dad passed away shortly after, but Bentley vowed to return to Nationals Park and play in front of the baseball fans in DC.
The set of circumstances that led Bentley to reschedule his performance at Nats Park certainly isn’t fortuitous, but it did lead to a positively more charged setting. The biggest part was why he was playing at that specific time, which he made mention of once in the form of a somewhat long monologue “My Last Name.” Even though that song specifically dealt with his father and grandfather, so much of Bentley’s discography has to do with his roots that even if he hadn’t felt it necessary to mention the situation, it still would have hung over the crowd like thick air.
This isn’t a bad thing given the context of the show and performer. If Bentley wasn’t the increasingly positive person, the reasons for the show occurring could’ve easily bogged down the whole affair, but instead he used it to add greater poignancy to each of his songs, which they don’t normally have.
The reason for that doesn’t really have anything to do with Bentley as a song writer, but the content of his songs. For the most part he’s a grounded and naturalistic song writer who plays up the good old boy nature of his personality/life style. This doesn’t lead to a ton depth in most of his songs, but given the right atmosphere it can.
Of course Bentley isn’t always striving for that kind deeper meaning and is just relating the stronger elements of his worldview through his chosen genre. Often times though, the type of singer Bentley is can come off as hollow or like he’s playing a persona. It’s a common criticism about his contemporaries who are just playing the kind of character they expect country fans to eat up.
Seeing Dierks Bentley live though puts most of that to rest. It’s impossible to ignore the kind of enthusiasm he brings to the stage and the heart he puts into each of this songs and the narratives behind them. Country music rarely works unless it’s driven by a story, and while some stories are stronger than others, it works even less if the storyteller singing them isn’t fully invested. That’s one thing Bentley has working in his favor at all times is his total dedication to his craft and emoting just right to get it across to the crowd. There’s a reason he’s reached the kind of success he has.
The day itself though couldn’t have been more perfect for Bentley. If he had played when he originally slated for, it would’ve been after a night game, but performing following a day game with a touch of delightful weather seemed to fit Bentley better. His brand of music just seems to go down better outdoors in the clear light of day.
It would be easy to say Dierks Bentley was playing with more purpose than he normally would and the atmosphere lent itself to that purpose. Still, there’s a specific kind of authenticity to Bentley that would lead one to believe he always plays with this kind of drive. It would’ve been nice for him to start off the NatsLive concert series this season, but in hindsight, it would be hard for anyone to close out the series this season than Dierks Bentley.
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