Sunday, July 15, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Column: Reflecting on the height of my teenage Dierks Bentley fandom

Ah, nostalgia.

It's big business these days, and late '90s to early '00s nostalgia is especially hot right now as Jay Cridlin writes in this week's cover story about the MY2K Tour with 98 Degrees, O-Town and more.

I was never a boy band kind of girl or a TRL watcher, and I'm having my own bout with (a bit more recent) musical nostalgia this week with country singer Dierks Bentley in town. Ticketmaster's issuing of free vouchers last month put me on a mad scramble to get lawn seats and a concert-going companion for what would have been my sixth (yes, sixth) Dierks show. Sad to report I got neither free tickets nor companion.

It's all good though because I've had fun just reflecting on the height of my teenage fandom, to the amusement of one of my co-workers. And five concerts is probably plenty, right?

It has been a few years since my last Dierks show in Jacksonville in 2013, but I once sat close enough to high-five him twice in three nights in 2008.

I was a fan club member for several years, which helped me land on the list of 3,000 executive producers on his 2008 greatest hits album.

In 2009 I scored a meet and greet wherein I tried not to gush too much as he autographed my CD and giggled as he commented on our sort of matching plaid as we snapped a pic. (With an actual camera. This was pre-selfie days for me, folks.)

Facebook recently reminded me that in 2011 I opined that it was the first time in four years I couldn't go to one of his Florida or Georgia shows, and I flipped my lid in 2010 when he released his bluegrass album. (Bluegrass music 4 eva!)

Fandom is a funny thing, isn't it? I can't tell you when in the last few years our relationship went from "must go at all costs" to "I'll go if I find a friend and some free tickets." But half the fun of revisiting an old musical flame is singing all the words you think you've forgotten, and the other half is wondering at the changes time brings.

Like at my big nostalgia concert of the year, from way on the other end of the musical spectrum. Underoath's reunion show at Jannus Live made me realize that at the ripe ol' age of 24, my days of elbowing moshers to get to the front row are way behind me. And as I sang/screamed every word from every song from albums a decade old, I missed my teenage-years friends who probably would have gotten just as excited-plus-misty-eyed if they could've been there.

Your nostalgia concerts are probably not the same as mine (unless you're a country-metalcore-bluegrass-obsessed 20-something, in which case, hi!), but I'm pretty sure we all get that warm and fuzzy reflective feeling. Enduring qualities of the music aside, it's a big part of why we keep shelling out to see the Rolling Stones or Journey or Hank Williams Jr. or 98 Degrees.

A decade from now, you might find me at a Dierks Bentley show again, misty-eyed while bobbing along to Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go) and somehow remembering every word.

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