Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Commodore Ballroom

Saturday 30th, January 2016 / 10:24
By Reid Duncan Carmichael
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Commodore Ballroom. Photo: Justin Uitto

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Commodore Ballroom.
Photo: Justin Uitto

January 21, 2016

VANCOUVER — It’s strange going to a sold out show at The Commodore and being anything less than blown away by the band. It’s a lot like going to the beach when the forecast is wrong. Nathaniel
Rateliff & The Night Sweats brought just enough sunshine to bathe in but not enough to
warm the swimmers among the crowd. That’s not to say that they didn’t provide a
good show, but the context demanded something at least a little great.

It was, again, a good show. The band was tight and the crowd was obviously satiated if in
part due to some mild pandering (“O Canada” is a cheesy way to end a set guys).The
trumpet and saxophone owned the first half of the set, but later took a back seat to Rateliff’s
smoky growling voice which, unfortunately, was more than a little too loud. If you’re one of
those concert goers that doesn’t bring earplugs to a show you would have had considerable
discomfort during some of Rateliff’s vocal showcases. At times it was difficult to make out
both the band and the lyrics against Rateliff’s voice. This was a small issue, and more often
than not Rateliff and the band found a contented (note: not quite happy) medium. “Shake,”
for instance, provided soft, simple lyrics that melded well with the more minimalist musical
performance. This, though, was one of the few times during the show where the band
demanded the audience’s attention completely.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Commodore Ballroom. Photo: Justin Uitto

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Commodore Ballroom.
Photo: Justin Uitto

Technical issues can be forgiven. It’s not the band’s fault and sometimes shit just happens.
None of this really stopped anyone I saw in the crowd from bobbing their heads or tapping
their feet. The fact it was all I really saw anybody do, though, was telling. The lacklustre
performance didn’t compel much participation from the crowd. The band’s presence on stage
was forgettable at best, and it seems fair to say that while everyone on stage played well,
nobody performed very well. No part of the show really stood out with the exception of the
final performance of “S.O.B.”

It’s disappointing attending a show like this. For the price of a ticket to a hyped sold-out
show, to get an average night at the Commodore (which to make matters worse had no
working ATMs to go along with its tedious ins-­and-­outs policy) is unreasonable and an
unfortunate deterrent for infrequent attendees to live shows. Then again, maybe people just
wanted to hear the son of a bitch sing “S.O.B.”

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