Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats played Friday night in San Diego as part of the Del Mar Summer Concert Series. The blues rock soul band from Denver, Colorado, graced North County with its energy and song as part of the Tearing At The Seams tour, supporting their sophomore album with the same name.

The large crowd filled in as the muggy magic hour slipped into night, and the band members started off with an instrumental before Nathaniel Rateliff emerged, completing the 8-piece band. He picked up the guitar, beginning a foot stomping, shoulder shrugging performance. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman riled up the crowd with not only his vivacious tickling of ivories, but also his audience engagement, standing up and even abandoning his piano to come to the edge of the stage.

Maybe it was the unfamiliar humidity keeping the crowd initially mellow, but The Night Sweats put their all into their tight jams, earning all the respect that can be given back. When Rateliff performs, it’s like being in a Southern church without being preached to; The songs are personal and confessional. This makes it extra hard not to be irritated by the standard fare drunk that pushes through the crowd talking loudly to the person next to them – their sweaty arm and hair pressing too close. Sometimes you cannot pull yourself in small enough to avoid this record stopping disruption.

The crowd was large, thankfully, and livened up with the playing of the lead single on Tearing At The Seams, “You Worry Me.” Adding to the dramatic effect of this entertaining musical experience, Rateliff occasionally ended a song by throwing his electric guitar back and off-stage to, presumably, the guitar tech, to catch. Rateliff and Shusterman both bounced their tambourines off the floor in dramatic fashion through the night.

They played a timely and appreciated tribute to Aretha Franklin, who passed away two days earlier. Rateliff said “Bring down the Horns” and Scott Frock, trumpet, Andreas Wild, tenor Sax, and Jeff Dazey, alto sax, stepped forward and played a sultry intro to The Nightsweats’ song “Babe I Know” in honor of the soul singer. They also dedicated their song “Say It Louder” from their second album, “to all kids trying to change gun legislation” throwing in another personal note for the night.

The band’s career breaking hit “S.O.B” from their first album Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats was played last on the set list. This is where Rateliff threw himself to his knees in performance and gave the audience a guaranteed sing along, so much so that when the band walked off stage, the crowd continued singing the distinct “Ohohoh,” successfully encouraging the band to give an encore. Near the end of the encore, Rateliff intentionally exited stage left, profile only. The band finished up the song, and left the stage one by one, smiling and waving appreciatively at the crowd.

Review by: Kristy Walker
Photos by: Sylvia Borgo