Live: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

The first weekend in August (sans 2010) for over a decade, the once former travelling musical monster called Lollapalooza takes over the city of Chicago in every way possible.  Total attendance for the four day shindig & also celebrating its 25th anniversary, was unofficially pegged at 400,000. Keep in mind that those are only the official number of concert goers and doesn’t include the actual artists, hang around’s that come to the city for a good time.  As you can see, those numbers are enormous, but that’s nothing special or new to the festival giant. Obviously, Lollapalooza weekend is an  extraordinary weekend for music fans in general  (those lucky enough to get tickets)  but I\’m not sure that spending four full days in the August sun with a couple hundred thousand drunk and sweaty hipsters is my midsummer  night\’s dream. What Lollapalooza brings to town that is ever so special to me are the 50 plus \”official\” late night after shows. That\’s not including the daily pop-up and nightly unofficial shows that take place throughout Chicago as well.

Of all the official 2016 after shows there was one that reached out and grabbed me by the short hairs.  Denver based, soul/folk phenomena, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and San Francisco based funksters, Con Brio. Upon sight of the listing, my blood pressure started to rise and I could actually feel my hair growing due to the excitement I\’d had for this show.

Upon arriving at Thalia Hall, there was an energy and buzz that had taken hold of the out of the way, West Chicago up and coming neighborhood of Pilsen. That energy, suffice to say, was brought by (in my opinion) the after show of the weekend.

I will admit that like most of those who arrived early, I wasn’t too familiar with Con Brio.  I had listened to a few songs prior to the show so I wasn’t going in blind and I liked what I\’d heard from their current release, Paradise.

When front man, Ziek McCarter walked onto the stage there was a certain swagger and confidence that was obvious.  As if to say, \”Chicago, you have no fucking idea what you\’re about to witness\”.  It took a  total of about ninety seconds of their  thirty minute set  for the crowd to realize that Con Brio wasn’t some bullshit, fly by night opening band that were learning to fly as they went along.  Conversely, these seven Californians were whipping the nearly full Thalia Hall into frenzy (with their hybrid mixture of Sly & the Family Stone, Michael Jackson & James Brown) even though no one really knew who they were. For a moment I thought to myself,   \”I hope that Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats brought their \”A\” game because this band doesn’t realize that they\’re the openers!\”  With Con Brio finishing their hair raising set it was time to take a breath, grab another $5 can of Budweiser and recharge for the task at hand.

By the time Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats took the stage it was midnight and Thalia Hall was filled to capacity. It was obvious that the crowd was fully energized (thanks Red Bull and/or Budweiser) as the members of The Night Sweats took the stage one by one to raucous cheers. Yet, the loudest roar came when Nathaniel Rateliff hit the stage.  Decked out in the standard black outfit and a large cup of something… bourbon’s my guess… It was evident that there was one thing on their agenda for the night and that was to party!

Within the seconds that it took for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats to get settled on stage, they wasted little time and jumped in with both feet with I Need Never Get OldWith the flash of a smile to the crowd, Rateliff & co. transitioned into Look It Here & Howling at Nothing.  It was painfully obvious that Rateliff has a special relationship with the fans. Adoration almost seems to slight the strength of that bond that was in full effect that night. It comes across as a reciprocal transfer of energy.  Many bands tout \”we do this for you, the fans\” which is all well and good but there\’s no feeling behind it. That’s what was different about this performance. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats didn’t need to tell their fans that they\’re important because it showed in their performance and interaction.

There were more than a few moments when it honestly felt as if the hardwood floors of the hundred year old Thalia Hall were on the brink of collapse due to the non-stop dancing. Even the blue haired little old lady that was there was dancing (I have no idea how the hell she ended up there).  Of their seventy five minute set, fan favorites like Wasted Time, Shake, and Thank You were there and wrapped up by an encore of S.O.B.

In life, there are few things are certain.  After seeing Gogol Bordello, my list of certainties has grown by several. Those being …. bring a towel and a change of clothes because you\’ll drenched in sweat from dancing and you MUST, MUST, MUST  see Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats live before you kick the bucket.



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