Sunday night, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats played Tipitina’s, and by the end of the night I wasn’t sure what I thought about the show. The band couldn’t wear its collective love of Stax/Volt R&B more obviously if they were all wearing T-shirts from its museum’s gift shop, but for most of the show, I wanted the band to groove harder when the tempos dropped and the songs became more intimate. Rateliff clearly had the chops as a singer to by dynamic, but for the most part the band was at its best when it roared out beats too big to miss.
Some of that I attributed to the group being a young band. The show was initially scheduled for the more intimate Gasa Gasa, but the band blew up to such an extent that the show was moved to Tipitina’s where it sold out as well. Rateliff’s limited stage patter suggested that the band was learning its touring craft in front of a larger audience than it was entirely ready for.
When some who had to get up in the morning began to file out after the set-ending “S.O.B.,” I moved up from the back of the room and found the encore—including a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”—far more physical and satisfying than much of the show. Was the encore simply harder, or was the sound notably muted at the back of the room? At Tipitina’s, the latter isn’t usually a problem, but maybe. I was into the show enough to give Rateliff a very sympathetic second chance even before the encore, but by the end I wondered if the people in the front of the room enjoyed a killer show while the rest of us had fun at a good one.
Photographer Patrick Ainsworth was at Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, as well as recent shows by Damien Rice, Drive-By Truckers, Justin Townes Earle, Kacey Musgraves, Alt-J, and A$AP Rocky. Here are his highlights. Click on the images to see them in viewers.