I’ve voiced my scepticism of the electric direction of various artists/bands within multiple articles on Thank Folk For That. Usually when that change occurs, I’ll know right away if I’m diggin’ the vibe or not, but last night at Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats debut NYC show, for the first time my critical genre-altering brain cells were stumped.
Recently I saw awe-inspiring footage of Nathaniel in James Marcus Haney’s documentary of a 2012 tour Austin To Boston. He belts his soul through twangy vocals and energetically strums his classical and acoustic guitars in an intimate, folk dominated fashion. His presence onstage has always been riveting but watching him groove and stomp to his new funk and blues supporting band proves that his singer/songwriter aura is morphing into an exciting, electrifying act.
The band walked on stage and warmed up the audience for a minute before Nathaniel came out and strapped into his guitar. Complete with trumpet, saxophone, bass, drums and keys, the Night Sweats inject a modern age soul into Nathaniel’s folk rock style. The band also provided subtle, colorful harmonies on Howling At Nothing and a few other songs that you can only hear if you catch them on tour right now, because their full-length album is set for release on August 21st. Not only is Nathaniel the lead singer of the band, he is also the lead guitarist and showed off his skills as an electric guitar soloist.
The set closer was S.O.B. and one of the main highlights of the night because of it’s soft, old-time jazz/blues “mmmm’s” that begin the song with fast-paced stomping. The audience was clapping and mmmmm’ing throughout the entire song and just as the drums slowed down and Nathaniel thanked us and told us he’d see us next time, the music paused and then surged right back into rhythm as Nathaniel croaked out “Son of a bitch!”
It’s evident that Nathaniel was ready to inject more life into the acoustic, mellow sound that attracted many fans. From what I saw on stage last night, this is no acoustic turned electric heartbreaking misstep. This is a monstrous advancement and it’s giving me the night sweats.
Scott J. Herman