It’s Raw And Familiar With Nathaniel Rateliff During KCRW’s Agogee Sessions Tune In 9/15/18 To Morning Becomes Eclectic To Listen To The Intimate Interview and Performance
LOS ANGELES, CA-
“I’m gonna leave it all out there to dry up,
I’m gonna leave it all out there to dry.”
With the balls of their feet bouncing off of the Apogee Studio stage, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats brought raw emotion and plenty of energy to their KCRW Sessions performance. The full band performed a lengthy set as part of their segment of Mornings Become Eclectic; they joined the station’s Apogee Sessions in the midst of a slew of shows supporting their March release, Tearing at The Seams.
Before launching into a dizzying performance, KCRW host Anne Litt introduced the band with an interview, where Rateliff spoke candidly about the throes of divorce that colored the album, one rife with simple but significant songwriting. There are many nods to disparate, troubled relationships on the 14 tracks, with longing, discord, and coming-to-terms-with-loss as the through-line in what is a remarkably uplifting and jangly record.
Litt’s sincere line of questioning almost became too on the nose for the setting as Rateliff made himself an open book in the intimately crowded room, both building and diffusing tension as he recounted breaking down in the arms of founding bandmate and long-time friend John Pope III while recording, and then somehow earned a laugh again with a quip about divorce paperwork (not quite signed).
Things feel raw and familiar by the end of the questions, but it’s not long before the band get to what they do best – turning things into a party. The packed studio, private recording space of producer Bob Clearmountain, embraced the band with enthusiasm and Rateliff bopped his way through the first songs, rolling through Shoe Boot, Be There—off the new album—and Look It Here, off the band’s self-titled 2016 release.
With seven of them up there, it would be hard to deny the energy of an all-out soul band, and Rateliff only reins things in for a moment when dedicating Say It Louder to the youth fighting to end gun violence. He is an honest-to-goodness front man, with the authentic drawl which pushes and pulls at words with contracted lips and tongue. He tightens up for a full folk twang in “Cooling Out,” then loosens and lets the soul flow out in “Worry Me,” building in an emotional outro which the crowd belted back, everyone caught up, singing right back to someone, each closing their eyes to a different face.
The band bangs out otherwise affecting lyrics with gusto –
“I feel fine today
I’ve had dreams of you in places I’ve not seen before
You get so carried away.”
One of the night’s great highlights was a rousing performance from Mark Shusterman on keys, who put on a show packed with a hat on, a hat off, hair flipping, knuckles sliding, and fingertips slamming across two sets of keys, coming to his feet multiple times to kick off a rhythmic clap that would pick up across the crowd. The entire band pulsed with all the elements of true live music—at one point slipping into a horn intro to “Babe I Know”, with Scott Frock on trumpet, Andreas Wild on bari sax, and Jeff Dazey on tenor sax.
Things continued on in the same toe-tapping, hips-wagging way as the band tried out “Hey Mama” and then “A Little Honey”, with Luke Mossman on guitar and Pope III coming in for background vocals that sat nicely apart from Rateliff’s. “I’ll Be Damned” went next – Patrick Messe leaned into things on drums and the studio began to sway en masse.
The band is loud and a whole lotta fun, and by the time they headed off stage, it was clear the crowd would demand them back. The party finally wrapped with “I Need Never Get Old” and the clap-y favorite “Be There,” from the top of at The Seams.
Pope III and Rateliff shared a childhood in an area as pockmarked, bent, and rusted as any other small Missouri town, and from first interview question through the night’s encore it became clear that their genuine Midwest/Southern grit is the reason the band sounds so damn good. To hear them tell it, the recipe to the music is equal parts heartache, an excess of hard liquor and self-deprecating humor. But by slipping into the deep end of vices and personal ache and dragging themselves out the other side, Nathaniel & The Night Sweats have produced a strong album, and one of the most satisfying live music experiences around.
“They say sometimes
What you need is exactly what you fear.”
Tune it at 11:15am on Wednesday, Sept 5th to hear Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Mornings Become Eclectic, or watch the full session here: https://www.kcrw.com/music/apogeestudio