Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley - Desert Sky Pavilion - May 16, 2013
Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley (see the full slideshow.)
All photos by Melissa Fossum
Desert Sky Pavilion
May 16, 2013
For me, the night the Desert Sky Pavilion (or whatever else it's called from year to year) opens its gates for the first show of the season marks the beginning of summer. And the 2013 summer concert season kicked off with some red-blooded American country music -- Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley's Locked and Reloaded tour.
As I approached the pavilion, a man was lounging in a lawn chair that sat on the roof of his car, blasting country music with the doors open, chanting and chugging beer and offering his own unique rebellion against parking lot security.
Inside, the crowd was almost as enthusiastic.
Concertgoers buzzed around the vendors and openly bitched about the $10 beer; one patron shouted to his buddies across the crowd that he'd found Bud Light for $9.50, and people swarmed.
Joanna Smith kicked off the show, welcoming the crowd in front of the stage with her bubbly personality. She was maybe a bit too enthusiastic as she skipped around waving and singing. Although she did sing one lyric that caught my attention: "Put your worries in a blender / There's nothing wrong with a Tuesday night bender." I could not agree more, Joanna.
Randy Houser was next and provided the soundtrack for the setting sun. He stormed on stage while "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC rumbled through the audience until transitioning smoothly into the party anthem "Whistlin' Dixie." The most striking character on stage during Houser's set was a guitarist who paraded around behind sunglasses, wearing a Mad Hatter top hat (complete with feather) and a frayed leather jacket. People began moving and dancing during Houser's set, which was the most rock 'n' roll-driven show of the night.
By the time Dierks Bentley took the stage, the pavilion had filled up. A high level of energy coursed through the crowd as Bentley bounced on stage in his hometown of Phoenix and brought the audience to their feet. Girls began popping up on the shoulders of the men they were with, which Bentley applauded. The band plays together tightly and it appeared as if they feed off each other's musical prowess to bring such a high energy. The vocals were crisp and clear as Bentley fired off a greatest hits compilation.
During his performance, Bentley pulled a young girl on stage from the crowd and cheered her on as she held his unplugged guitar and acted out a solo. Once she was off stage, the band carried on and showcased their talents as the members started picking banjos and shredding fiddle solos. The bassist even stood back to play a cello while Bentley introduced them as local boys.
To keep the vibe alive between shows, a small group out of Nashville called Jukebox Mafia stood on stage and played hip-hop/country remixes of various songs from "Pony" by Ginuwine to "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard.
Then the lights went down, and it was time for Miranda Lambert. The video screens on either side of the stage lit up with a montage of "girl power" propaganda video clips while Beyonce's "Who Run the World (Girls)" boomed over the speakers. I thought that was an odd song choice to start this show, but it appeared to work for the audience. The curtain fell to reveal Miranda Lambert standing in the center of the stage wearing a sparkling gold skirt and country glamour boots. She broke into "Fastest Girl in Town" and strutted around the stage.