Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Explode In Concert

Back in the day, I had very little overlap with my parents’ musical choices. On a family road trip, Dad took control of the radio (undoubtedly a clunky Delco AM model), and we just looked out the many windows of our Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser and knew better to ask when we’d arrive.
Now, as most folks reading this far already know, the overlap of parents’ and kids’ playlists is pretty remarkable.
So there I was at the concert and realized the gap has mostly collapsed.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats delivered a solid set that spanned and appealed to several generations. It was my daughter several Coachellas ago who implored me to check out Rateliff, which is a delightful about face of our usual protocol.
His tribute to the recently deceased Aretha Franklin was hanging in the air, and was well-received mid-way through his set at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Rateliff’s sound is a robust blend, built on the shoulders of giants from the Stax legacy and elsewhere.
The young ‘uns may not have previously tapped into the likes of Sam and Dave or the myriad other artists that no doubt Rateliff has embraced, but the latter’s deft evolution of that sound is gripping.
The three piece horn section provided a crisp counterpoint to the solid rhythm laid down by the bass and drums. The keyboards provided the soulful sound of the Hammond B3. Rateliff moved from guitar, harmonica and tambourine between his gutbucket vocals.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats are: Rateliff (vocals, guitar), Joseph Pope III (bass), Patrick Meese (drums), Luke Mossman (guitar), Mark Shusterman (keys), Andreas Wild(saxophone), Scott Frock (trumpet) and Jeff Dazey (saxophone).

Rateliff is hardly an overnight sensation. His eighth career album Tearing at the Seams was released in March, and it debuted at #11 on the Billboard Top 200. “You Worry Me” has been at #1 on triple A radio for the seventh consecutive week. He is right at home where he belongs, on the Stax label.

Rateliff’s (somewhat troubled) roots in the church emerge in the gospel-inflected sounds of several songs. His Missouri-by-way-of-Denver path laid the groundwork for his last-ditch shot at musical success five years ago. Many prior years of slogging through factory, gardening and trucking work now seem like faded memories in his rear view mirror.
The highlights of his recent gig included the huge hit “S.O.B.” and my favorite “Wasting Time.” The band has been barnstorming across America with great reviews, sometimes sharing bills with the likes of John Prine and Willie Nelson’s son.
The heartbreak of not being able to share the gig with my daughter is somewhat painful; she sprouted wings and is starting her semester abroad in Florence. But knowing that Rateliff is drawing such a range of fans is heartwarming and almost makes up for the distance between me and she who enlightened me about Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

(photos by Brad Auerbach)


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.