The Upshot: Philly’s 2,500-capacity The Fillmore plays host to a phenomenal band, who puts on a great show—despite an unconscionably shitty audience, and a sad statement for a city known for its embrace of classic soul and R&B.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Sometimes bad audiences happen to good bands. Playing a sold out show in front of a crowd 2,500 strong at one of Philly’s new clubs – The Fillmore – Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff and his band the Night Sweats put on a stellar show that would have been hard to top.
Sadly the bulk of the crowd was clearly there for one song, the band’s out-of-nowhere hit “S.O.B.” Crowd be damned, the one-time folkie Rateliff, and his band were channeling everyone from classic Van Morrison to James Brown in his prime turning in a powerful set from start to finish.
Since adding a full band, complete with a horn section, Rateliff has added more Soul, Gospel and R&B influence to his songs resulting in a wildly refreshing sound setting them apart from every Brooklyn indie band and Mumford & Sons acolyte that seem to be competing for the attention of anyone still interested in live music.
With only one album to their name (Rateliff has a few solo efforts, but the sound is different now that he has a proper backing band), the set was comprised of a dozen songs, but they made the most of it.
“I used to go back into the woods and my mom would yell ‘Are you going back there to get liquored up?’” Rateliff recalled in front of the crowd, that was crammed with a bunch of 20 and 30-something kids that seemed to be checking phones more often than the action on the stage.
“Well, we were, but we were also listening to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” eliciting some pockets of cheers from those who were actually focused on the band. They then launched into a fantastically spirited “Howling at Nothing” off their self-titled album.
The band ran through just about every song on the record, but held onto “S.O.B.” – the one the crowd was clearly there for – until the very end before morphing into a great cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In,” and closing out once again with the last verse of “S.O.B.” It was only then that the band got the enthusiastic reaction from the crowd that they deserved all along.
Great band; shitty crowd.