Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Help Close Out The Summer At Sold Out Surly Show


Some people ask how I could live in a state where the air hurts your face over half of the year due to the cold. I wish those people had been at Surly Festival Field last night to experience just why the Twin Cities and Minnesota in general is such a beautiful place to be and why I have no plans of leaving a place where there’s more winter and frigid temperatures than bright and sunny warm summer days. Another sold out show, another night of people enjoying the last few glimpses of warmth and sun, another brilliant performance and another evening spent with friends– last night was one of those picture perfect evenings that you think only exist in movies.

MC Taylor and his folk band Hiss Golden Messenger kicked things off to a quickly growing crowd that would soon hit capacity. The music of Hiss Golden Messenger was super laid back and chill creating the absolute perfect setting for the evening. It was the type of set that was perfect for catching up with old friends and meeting new ones with flowing notes swirling all around you. Don’t get me wrong, although there were a million conversations and hugs being shared throughout the grounds that is Surly Festival Field, it was impossible to ignore the music and the band on stage. Whether it was a glimpse up to the stage every now and then or a pause in a conversation to catch a line of lyrics that was sure to hit you just in the right place, I loved how Hiss Golden Messenger commanded your attention and captivated you but also allowed you to just enjoy the night with your friends. 

The night flew by and after a thirty minute set and what felt like a twenty second stage change over (it was actually more like half an hour but the lines for beer were long and the conversations with friends were great), it was time for the one and only Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats to start. You could feel the anticipation in the air as The Night Sweats (Nathaniel’s band) took the stage. The cheering, hooting, and hollering was nearly deafening as the super star himself took the stage. From there on out the night was almost a blur but not the booze fueled type of blur that I tend to write about after a great night with friends, more of the type of blur where everything just seems absolutely perfect so instead of taking notes about what the setlist was or the banter between band and audience, the night was spent with a smile on my face and my head in the clouds.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The night Sweats’ music has a sense of swagger about it and that feeling was heard loud and clear throughout the audience. The music is fun and almost happy-go-lucky at times but also full of emotion, heart, and straight up talent. Although they are best known for their hit song “S.O.B.” (you know it– trust me), I was amazed at how, although I don’t listen to Nathaniel religiously like I used to, every song had the words flowing back into my mind without hesitation. The rest of the crowd seemed to be in the same spot as me and after the obligatory, “This is my song!” comment as every song kicked in, the entire audience proceeded to sing along to every word as if their life depended on it. Although he has plenty of material to covers hours on hours of music, Nathaniel and his band were somehow able to pluck out the best of the best of their discography making sure that nearly everyone got to go home saying the phrase, “I’m so happy they played my song!”.

Everyone has a story of seeing that one band before they were really a thing and before the world knew about them. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats is that band for me. I remember seeing them years ago with just a handful of other people in the audience not quite knowing what I was watching but knowing that I was watching a star in the making. There has always been something about Nathaniel’s writing and the way he treats each note of his music with a sense of respect and seriousness. I knew then that he would be huge but I honestly don’t think I realized the magnitude of what he would accomplish. As with every act I see go from playing empty rooms to selling out giant outdoor summer shows, I was beyond excited to see that, although he clearly has hit a whole new level as far as his career is concerned, he still comes off as just a normal guy with a tune in his heart and a drive to be the best that he can be. Call me dramatic, that’s fine, I’ll take it, but honestly I love seeing a musician who is truly worth of fame and the spotlight get it and not abuse it. Nathaniel Rateliff and his band mates are those people.

The Farmer’s Almanac forecast for this winter came out the other day. ‘Polar Coaster’. That’s what it says for Minnesota. I don’t know exactly what that means but ‘Polar Coaster’ has been typically followed by, “Lots of snow and bitterly cold temperatures”. Although I love cold weather and getting buried in snow to the point where there’s nothing you can do except just stay at home and cuddle up with your cats and a good book, it’s going to be hard to go a couple of months without nights like last night. People ask me how I can live at a place that is slated to get hit by a ‘Polar Coaster’– last night. Last night is the reason.