Written and Photographed by Eric Sperrazza
It has been quite the year for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The last time the band came to our area, they lit up the Steel Stacks Levitt Pavilion in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and brought their vintage Americana sound to the ruins of the working class. Since then, they released a new album in November of 2021, aptly named The Future. This album added a new layer to the flavor and the story of Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Today, they are feverishly preaching the good word of their music on the road and promoting the evolution of their sound, one town at a time.
I had the opportunity in July to catch Rateliff’s show at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This venue is close to my heart, as my Mother worked for Bruce Springsteen‘s Answering Service in Red Bank when I was little. As a result, she filled the house with the sounds of Springsteen & The E Street Band throughout my childhood. To this day, one of my favorite additions to my vinyl collection is a mint-condition original print of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live in Asbury Park 1975-85. Hearing the snap, crackle, and pop of the surface noise mixed in with the crowd’s cheers is perfection, just as nature intended.
As soon as the band hit the stage, it was evident there was a different kind of energy coming from Rateliff. Maybe it was the lack of one of his trademark hats, or perhaps the salt-kissed cool breeze coming up onto the stage reminded him of the gravitas of where he was performing, but there was no denying this would be a new experience with the band.
The band offered many timeless classics like “Say It Louder” and “I Need Never Get Old” and a hefty helping of songs off the latest LP. Throughout songs like “I Am on Your Side,” “FaceDown in the Moment,” and “Survivor,” I could feel such an expected delivery of music. All the tenets of a Nathaniel Rateliff song were in play; horns, excellent guitar work, piano, a driving backbeat, and soulful raspy vocal work. It just did not feel like Americana Folk Rock. It felt more…east coast.
At that moment, with the neon pink dusk sky piercing behind the Summer Stage at the Stone Pony, I realized I heard shades of “Rosalita,” “She’s the One,” and more. Rateliff & The Night Sweats were summoning the summer boardwalk ghosts of The Boss himself! Leaving no doubt in my mind the familiar vibe I was feeling, the band proceeded to cover Atlantic City, igniting chants for “Bruce!” but to no avail.
The show closed with their usual crowd sing-along favorite, “S.O.B.,” and the new contender for the “Concert Party Closing” song from The Future album, “Love Don’t.”
What better way to hear some good old-fashioned Blue-Eyed Soul than at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park? What about Blue-Eyed Soul with a bit of grime and spilled beer that makes it so unmistakably Jersey? Regardless, it was just the right music at just the right venue on just the right night.
As for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, if this is what their evolution continues to look like, then I am in for the long haul. I bought The Future album shortly after the concert on vinyl, so I could hear the surface noise snap, crackle, and pop of the surface noise just as nature intended.
Nathaniel & The Night Sweats will play the Xponential Music Festival this September. Tickets are on sale now hosted by The Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey, from September 16th-18th. Click for more ticket information.