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Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats ~ Photo by Scott Cunningham
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats ~ Photo by Scott Cunningham

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats at Pioneer Square

By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Saturday's set in Portland shows why we can expect Nathaniel Rateliff to have some serious staying power.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats cruised through Portland on Saturday evening with a solid show at the Widmer Brothers' Oktoberfest Saturday at Pioneer Square.

Quite honestly, I'm not sure how Rateliff is still standing upright. Since releasing the self-titled "Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats" album two-and-a-half years ago, Ratefliff and the band have been on a near-constant tour. The Denver-based band is one of the most in demand acts at the moment and have appeared at nearly every major festival and event held since the album broke through in the summer of 2015.


The music is good. Really, really good.

So good, in fact, that the album was recently certified as gold, meaning it has sold in excess of 500,000 copies. S.O.B. was the breakout hit from the album and currently has over 52 million plays on Spotify, a staggering number for a band's first national release.

Saturday's set showcased everything that makes Rateliff and the band unique. Rateliff's vocal work is a refreshing change of pace in a musical landscape that values conformity. There isn't an easy comparison to make with other artists, so the best I can do is say that he falls somewhere along a line between Americana artists like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson on one end, and Anderson East on the other end.

Throw in the infectious rhythms of songs like S.O.B., I Need Never Get Old, Look It Here, and Howling at Nothing and it is easy to see how distinct and special the band's sound is compared to other artists.

The band has been working on cutting a second album, but I haven't heard a precise timeline. At least three new songs were included in Saturday night's set, all strong candidates for making the cut and landing on an album. The band does have some downtime coming up this fall and hopefully they will be able to make some serious progress on the album. Three years to follow up a major hit starts to push the outer envelope for timing, but I can't blame them for riding their success like they have.

The band was tight, not surprising how much they have been on the road. At the same time, however, this was also the only downside I walked away with from the performance. Although the crowd was extremely receptive to the set, I never quite got the sense that Rateliff and the band were truly engaged with the experience.

In the larger scheme of things, this is a small quibble and the set on Saturday exemplified why this band is one of the most refreshing bands in the country.

It also showed why Rateliff will have some serious staying power.

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