Opening up on Friday Night at Bowery Ballroom were Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, who brought the funk, with Hernandez dancing wildly around the stage and doing some sixties neo-soul a la Amy Winehouse, including a trombone solo or two. At one point, she got the entire audience to go down the floor and to rise slowly with her and start dancing. It was energetic and the crowd was ready to dance.

From Denver, Colorado, Nathaniel Rateliff didn’t exactly continue a dance floor, but he did create a good atmosphere for introspection. Rateliff started out his Friday night set saying to audience “We got a lotta hits for you tonight” with a self effacing twinkle in his eye. Rateliff, flanked by his backing band; Joseph Han on an organ grinding keyboards; Patrick Meese on mallet thumping drums; John Pope III on bass and harmonica, rolled through a 45 minute set blending folk sensitivity with some moments to rock out. Think Basement Tapes mixed with the Mumford and Sons.

Most of their songs came from his latest LP Falling Faster than You Can Run (2013) and new songs to be released on a forthcoming EP. Highlights included “Don’t Get too Close,” “Nothing to Show For,” his cover of Towes Van Zant’s “No Place to Fall” and closer “Still Trying.” The last song in particular was especially memorable, and had most of the audience singing along on the chorus “I guess I don’t know a goddamn thing.”

His voice is at once both intimate and epic, occasionally accompanied with harmonies from one or more voices. Between songs he candidly chatted with the audience, and at one point said “well, that song was about cunnilingus and this song is about fighting.” He was in good spirits, playing, surprisingly through a hollowed body electric. I had checked out some of his videos before catching the show and I was expecting him to play an acoustic solo show, but the electric worked well in the set, filling up the room.

If I had one complaint about the show, it’s that the show feels like it’s still in a café instead of a larger stage like the Bowery Ballroom, with everyone in the band sitting down. The music still came through and the audience was, for the most part, mesmerized and elated with the performance. All in all, the set was an enjoyable and mellow way to spend a Friday night.

Article by: Steven Klett

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