Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats @ Stage AE - 7/26/16

Nathaniel Rateliff is a man born for a different era. Sporting a tight vest and fedora, he would seem to fit in more in a movie about outlaws in the 1920s rather than onstage at a packed Stage AE. Despite the getup, he and his six-piece band, the Night Sweats delivered a standout performance to an enthusiastic Tuesday night crowd. 

Keeping in step with their vintage vibe, the band showed a taste for period-appropriate instruments as well. The lead guitarist was equipped with a 1956 reissue Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. The keyboardist alternated between a vintage Fender Rhodes and a tour-friendly version of a Hammond B-3 organ, complete with a Leslie speaker cabinet. While Rateliff himself used a modern Fender Deluxe Telecaster, both he an his lead guitarist played through late '60s Fender Silverface amps sporting the “drip edge” design, implying that they have the same circuit as their pre-CBS Blackface predecessors. Following the vintage amp trend, the bassist played through a famously warm sounding Ampeg flip-top amp from the 60s and 70s. 

The band wasted no time getting the crowd into their set. They opened with the extremely danceable “I Need Never Get Old,” followed by three other upbeat tunes, “Look It Here,” “Whole Night Left To Lose,” and “Howling At Nothing.” Despite how densely packed Stage AE was, the enthusiastic and goodnatured crowd still managed to find some space to dance.

Rateliff made a point to show his gratitude to the audience. He frequently reminded the crowd that he, “wouldn’t be here" if it wasn’t for them and that, “we made this album and we had no idea what we were in for. Thank you guys for giving a shit about what we’re doing.” Rateliff mentioned that he and his bassist had been collaborating for over 20 years, giving the impression that his newfound success was a long time coming and his gratitude was sincere. To wit, he dedicated his song, “Thank You” to everyone in the audience who made the show possible. 

Since Rateliff released his most recent album, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nigh Sweats, he’s been consistently on the road, playing festivals and gigs around the world. During that time, the band has been attempting to record a new EP, a few songs of which Rateliff included in the night’s set. While they were well-received, it was strange to hear a song that nobody was singing along to and realize that many in the crowd knew every word to every song. They didn’t just come to hear the hits.

As the night wore down and Rateliff made a show of tossing his guitar to his tech over the mountain of amps onstage, he once again thanked the audience, asking them not to throw any drinks onstage and launched into his hit "S.O.B," featuring the most exuberant audience hum-along part of the night. After the band left the stage, the audience kept humming along to bring Rateliff and his band back out to perform a few more tunes. 

Rateliff has found a place for his vintage-inspired music in today’s pop landscape. After perfecting his craft for nearly decades, he and his band delivered a standout show to an audience that Rateliff is truly grateful to be playing for.