Nathaniel Rateliff’s dirty, rocking Denver sound hits the Tonight Show

It’s happy hour everywhere east of Mountain Time Zone, so if you missed this performance on Jimmy Fallon by Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff​ and the Night Sweats, check it out to start your weekend!

Such a reinvention and reinvigoration of what I still think of as “the Denver sound,” gritty rhythmic dirty-country, hard-driving acoustic-based stuff.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Rateliff play, 10 years ago with his old band Born in the Flood. The show was at grimy but great Bender’s Tavern (now a Grateful Dead-themed place, but not then), which had a great big bar area when you walked in, and then a separate room with a stage in front of an open floor, and sort of box seats around the edges, holding a couple hundred people.

The lineup that night was Born in the Flood (quite different from Night Sweats, but you know, same guy), then an, um, “American grindcore” band (says Wikipedia) called Cephalic Carnage, and then Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, an old-school Denver sound band.

The show started with a nice barn-burning by Born in the Flood. Fun, rousing, awesome. Then Rateliff stood, sweating, outside the door to the stage while basically all his listeners filed out to the bar, and all the metal fans in the bar filed into the stage room. My husband and I sipped our beers on barstools (we could hear Cephalic Carnage just fine from the next room). Then the metalheads and hipsters switched places again for the Slim Cessna singalong. Totally weird, totally unforgettable, a bit like S.O.B. here, right?

(I’m not gonna lie … we even thought Cephalic Carnage was pretty OK.)

Oh, and that Denver sound? Here’s a professional word about it if you want to know more.

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One Comment

  1. August 9

    I had heard of Slim Cessna before, though not actually heard any of his music, but the rest of those bands were not even on my radar. Interesting! I’ll have to give it a closer listen.

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