Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats to play another sold-out show at Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m.
How much: $90-$215
Tickets: Sold out
More info: Josh Blue opens; bellyupaspen.com
There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when Nathaniel Rateliff was a relative unknown from Denver who would regularly roll into town to play free concerts and regional showcases at Belly Up. But those days are done.
Over the past four years with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, he’s found his sound and certainly found his crowd — making triumphant records like the new album “Tearing at the Seams” and earning a reputation as one of the best live acts on the road today.
The Denver-based band returns to Belly Up on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The show sold out almost immediately after it was announced last month, continuing a string of local sell-outs going back to 2015.
Their most recent stop here was at last summer’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, where Rateliff and his seven-piece band wowed a crowd of 10,000 with their rock and soul revival music, mashing up old styles from boogie-woogie piano to wailing Southern rock.
The burly and bearded Rateliff makes a charming frontman. Whether he’s singing in his often indecipherable Dylan-esque drawl, soft-shoeing around the stage or banging (and sometimes smashing to bits) a tambourine, he’s in full command up there. He and his band can get a crowd singing along on a slow, sweaty ballad like “Wasting Time” or get them clapping along with an infectious bluesy party-starter like “I Need Never Get Old.” His fearsome band can do Leon Russell justice on a cover of “Delta Lady” and tear through The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.” And their “S.O.B.” — which has catapulted this band far beyond Colorado to rock stardom — has an insta-classic, concert-ready hum-along chorus.
Their self-titled 2015 record and the runaway success of “S.O.B.” made the band seem like an overnight success. But it was a long time coming for Rateliff.
The singer moved to Denver from Missouri two decades ago with a friend — Joseph Pope III, now the bassist for The Night Sweats — to play music.
In relative obscurity, he made the rounds at Front Range and mountain town music clubs with his band Born in the Flood and then built a following with the Denver underground favorite Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel. When bands like Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver came to Colorado, they’d often tap Rateliff to open. But breakout success eluded him for years.
Before his first sell-out at Belly Up three years ago, Rateliff laughed and said: “Every other time I’ve been to Belly Up there’s been nobody there.”
After struggling creatively and trying to get traction with audiences, he started writing songs in a wild and charming retro-soul style. It revived him creatively.
“I’d been working hard for a long time and I didn’t know if I was going to keep playing music or get a job or what,” he said. “So to push through, I just wrote one song, and then another, and kept going, and wanted to see where everything would go in that style.”
Out of that last-ditch songwriting effort came the formation of The Night Sweats and the self-titled album.
“It opened everything up for me, and I said, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “I was excited by the record.”
The runaway success of the past few years has surprised Rateliff as much as anyone else.
“My friends are all like, ‘Oh, this is going to be big,’” he said. “But I’ve heard that about every record I’ve put out and it’s never happened. I’ve just started ignoring it.”
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