I'm putting this in writing now so that in a short time I'll be able to link back to this post and say I told you so. This is what I'm telling you:
Dierks Bentley is going to be HUGE.
I know: He's already a major recording star. He's already had five number one singles. He has just been nominated for four Grammy's. He's already big. I know.
That's not what I'm talking about, though. I'm talking HUGE. I'm talking cover of People magazine, Barbara Walters' Ten Most Fascinating People, you-better-get-your-tickets-the second-they-go-on-sale-because-the-stadium-will-sell-out-in-minutes huge.
If you've been reading this blog over the past several months, then you already know how kind and generous Dierks and Cassidy Bentley are. And if you've been reading the comments on this blog over the past several months, then you already know that Dierks is the sort of musician who has broad appeal and inspires statements like "I've never really been into country music, but I bought his album and now I'm a huge fan." And if you've been reading those things, then you probably walked away from them thinking, "Nice guy. Talented guy. Hope he continues to do well." So did I.
Then I saw his concert.
Let me put this in context for you: I have been to a lot of live shows. A lot of them. And I've seen a lot of incredibly talented people. I have almost always enjoyed the shows, but, by now, it takes a lot for a show to really blow me away.
This show really blew me away.
I've been trying to find the words to describe why, and here's what I've come up with: Most of the time when you see a live show, the artist takes the stage and performs for you. You stand on the other side of the invisible wall and marvel at their talent. They do what they do best for a couple of hours, and you are wildly appreciative, and then you all go home.
But every now and then, you see an artist who knows how to connect with the audience. The invisible wall evaporates, and suddenly everyone in the room feels like an important part of the experience. There's an energy that builds as the connection tightens; there's a relationship that develops, until suddenly every person in the room - each musician on stage, each die-hard fan in the pit, and even each of the folks in the last row of the balcony - has the same feeling: we are all in this together.
I'm not sure why some artists can create this vibe and others can't. It's not about the size of the venue. I've seen performers in intimate club settings who didn't create it; I've seen Paul McCartney create it in a stadium.
And now, I've seen Dierks Bentley do it, too.
It's this sort of thing: My friend and I had to travel a way to see the show, so we booked a local hotel room to make the trip more manageable. As we were checking out the next morning, the woman behind the hotel counter asked, "Were you in town for the show last night?"
We told her we were. She said she was there, too, and suddenly we were old friends. We talked, we raved, we gushed a little, and then we said goodbye with a "see you at next year's show," because we all knew that, without question, we would be there.
So here's the thing: It's too late to get in on the ground floor. It's too late to see Dierks and the band in a club. It's too late to be among the first to say "I was a fan back when..." But it's not too late to see him in a smallish venue, and I'm telling you, you ought to do it now, because soon it will be. He's going to be huge.
I can't wait to say I told you so.