Dierks Bentley knows by now how to tell if his show is a really, really good show. And it's got nothing to do with how many tickets he's sold, how many T-shirts fans bring home or how well the crowd sings along to all the words of his songs.
The two ways he knows he's doing something right on his Riser tour are:
1. People are willing to risk arrest. "If people sneak into my show, that's a sign of a good show, you know? If people want to risk getting in trouble with the law to come see you play music, that's a sign you're doing something right," Bentley told the Arizona Republic newspaper during a recent interview about his Saturday (July 26) concert in his hometown of Phoenix.
2. People are not paying complete attention to the actual show. "The first concert I saw was Bon Jovi with Skid Row, he recalled. A lot of times, if we have a B stage where we can get close to the grass, I tell the guys up in the back, 'I'm sure there are some guys up there not even watching. You're probably here to meet girls, probably staring at a girl right now. And I can relate because that's how I spent my first concert.' I told that story to Bon Jovi, and he said, 'That's the sign of a good concert.' So people sneaking in and not paying attention, that would be the sign of a really good show for me."
Bentley admitted that when he was younger, he would hop the little stone wall in the back of the amphitheater. He didn't come clean about whether that was before or after he discovered country music -- at 17 -- thanks to song from Hank Williams Jr.'s 1990 album, Lone Wolf .
"I was 17, and a friend said, 'Man, you've got to listen to this song' and he played 'Man to Man.' From there on, I was hooked on country. Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black. Every show that came through America West Arena, I was there," he said.
If Bentley had a way of sneaking into those big arena shows, he didn't say.