The crowd filled Hunter Mountain for Dierks Bentley's set at the Taste of Country Music Festivalon Friday night in Hunter, N.Y. And when the rains came, few left their post.

The final few songs of Bentley's 90-minute set were played under heavy rain showers, but fans soaked him in as he sang hit after hit after hit. Covers of OneRepublic's 'Counting Stars' and Bon Jovi's 'Living on a Prayer' were pleasant surprises. But the night's best moments were the 38-year-old's own songs, including hits from each of his nine albums.

Bentley showed why his tour was picked as ToC's No. 1 Hot Summer Tour. His connection with the crowd -- all the way back to the guy topping the converted ski hill, nearly a half-mile away -- was effortless. For the ballads he stood and strummed, as his passion drenched the crowd like the rain that would soon come. During other hits like '5-1-5-0' and 'Lot of Leavin' Left to Do' he bounced around, never losing vocal integrity.

This wasn't always the case for Bentley, but he told ToC before the show that 2014 feels like his year, and he proved it. Clips from his 'Drunk on a Plane' video brought appreciated (but certainly not necessary) levity to the night. Over 20,000 strong watched Bentley co-headline the night, including one lucky fan who was pulled on stage to chug a beer with the singer.

Tomorrow, Brad Paisley will close a day that includes performances from Randy Houser, Craig Morgan and Leah Turner.

Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival
Joshua Timmermans for Taste of Country Music Festival