Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats sells out the Mann Center and keeps the crowd on its toes - WXPN
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Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Let me make this totally clear: I don’t like country music. At all. You’ll never find me at a country show. I won’t sing along with it on the radio. Like ever. But I loveNathaniel Rateliff. I still can’t figure out why he’s the exception to my very unbreakable rule, but he is, and we’re going with it.

Last night, Rateliff was joined by The Head And The Heart at The Mann’s Skyline Stage, and if you missed out, then I am very, very sorry. These two bands pair so well together, and the indie folk sound that The Head And The Heart has easily mastered was the perfect thing to sit back and relax to while the sun set over the Philly skyline. They played pretty much all of the crowd favorites, and I was especially happy to hear “Rivers And Roads,” “All We Ever Knew,” and “Lost in My Mind.” I’m really thrilled that they accompanied Rateliff on this tour, because they’ve been on my bucket list for a little while now. The stunning vocal harmonies and hybrid folky rhythms add a modern take to traditional country music, and I loved every second of it. They were really the ideal opener.

Now let’s figure out why everybody’s loving Nathaniel Rateliff right now. He’s obviously a country singer, but he’s also not. There is something else there that sets him apart from the genre and makes his music completely his own invention. I’d argue that his band falls under a blues rock category, but that twang in his vocals is what makes him both an individual as well as something that reels in the country fans without deterring everyone else. And, if you haven’t noticed – he’s funny. He doesn’t even try to be, but he’s just the typical funny guy and I’ve definitely said that before when he played the downstairs NonCOMM stage a few weeks ago. Everything about him is just silly and fun, and that’s absolutely part of his appeal. He doesn’t seem to take anything too seriously, and that was the vibe of the whole night. Watching the crowd kick back and dance and not care about anything for the night was such a great feeling, and I’m sure Rateliff felt it too.

He played nearly everything he had to offer, and his openeing with “Shoe Boot” and “A Little Honey” was killer. And I was thrilled when he gifted us with “Son Of a Bitch” towards the end of his set. He also threw in a Springsteen cover of “Atlantic City.” Totally unexpected, and it had the crowd absolutely roaring.

Rateliff seems to have sort of sprung up out of nowhere, but it’s pretty clear that he’s here to stay. Check out photos from the concert in the gallery below.

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