Soulful Americana outfit Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats were one of the big draws at Farm Aid 2018, kicking off a roots revival in Hartford, Connecticut, over the weekend with their rollicking set of tunes that culminated in a big, multi-artist finish.
The band strutted through several of the upbeat numbers from their 2018 album Tearing at the Seams, including “You Worry Me” and “Be There,” along with earlier favorites like “Hey Mama” and “S.O.B.,” blending airtight harmonies and Stax-style arrangements. Possessing the machismo of a young Springsteen, lead singer Rateliff’s vocal style texturally spans from the new wave croon of Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring to the fervent gospel shouting of Sam & Dave. The band’s horn section — one of whom was sporting a Beto O’Rourke shirt — and their frequent nods to classic strains of gospel, rock and soul mean they’re doing genre-less work that isn’t too derivative of or reliant upon any one influence. Except maybe the Band, whose classic “The Shape I’m In” they covered as the set closer with harmonies and tambourine from Margo Price — who elicited screams from the crowd with her growling verse — and Lukas Nelson.
Nelson and Rateliff’s respective bands were recently among the nominees for Duo/Group of the Year at the 2018 Americana Honors and Awards, though Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit ultimately went home with that prize. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are scheduled to play a sold-out show at the Sylvee in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 27th.