Standing at the foot of the stage at McMenamins Edgfield Amphitheater, the first thought in my head as Nathaniel Rateliff entered in front of a roaring, sold out audience was: damn, for a husky dude, this guy can MOVE. Bounding in from stage right, he quickly set the tone with a remarkably graceful cartwheel while the Night Sweats played him on. From that moment, they gave nothing but soulful energy the entire night.
Originally forming in Denver, CO, Mr. Rateliff and the Night Sweats have plenty of reason to be excited these days. As a self-described 20-year overnight success, the group has spent decades struggling on the outskirts of recognition until their 2016 breakout hit, “S.O.B.” These days, they’re selling out amphitheaters and praising the fans that put them there, stating, “From all our families and all our friends, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. You’ve changed our lives in the last couple years, and it means so much.”
Like many artists, the group holds a strong affinity for Oregon, having recorded their most recent album, Tearing at the Seams, in the beaver state. They also honored the late Richard Swift, who produced the album and passed away last July of health complications due to alcohol addiction. Rateliff undoubtedly holds significant empathy for Swift, since “S.O.B.” addresses the same condition.
They used this occasion to celebrate his life and the friendships he inspired, offering an especially earnest and passionate performance. With horns blaring and speakers pounding, it was difficult to find a single still body on the lawn. The music was exceptionally executed, offering songs that sounded better in person than on the record, meeting the greatest expectations for a live performance.
See more images from the show below.