rateliff-swagga.jpg
Photo by Laura Musselman
Nathaniel Rateliff

The Triple Door

Tuesday, August 3

I wonder what kind of music Nathaniel Rateliff would've written had he not

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Nathaniel Rateliff Shine Like Veterans on First Headlining Tour, Last Night at the Triple Door

rateliff-swagga.jpg
Photo by Laura Musselman
Nathaniel Rateliff

The Triple Door

Tuesday, August 3

I wonder what kind of music Nathaniel Rateliff would've written had he not grown up in small-town Missouri. Though he moved to Denver some time ago, his music is still decidedly archetypical alt-country, extra parts country with a soulful, bluesy undercurrent. Transplanted anywhere else it would have to twang more or rock harder or howl a little, and that's just not Rateliff's style anymore. Straightahead, humble guy alt-country.

But perhaps the real difference between the kind of sad alt-country songs that Nathaniel Rateliff & co. play and most sad songs of the genre is that it doesn't make too much about being sad alt-country. They don't flaunt their melancholy, they don't pretend to come from anyplace they don't. Judging by last night's set, I get the sense that Rateliff's songs come from a place of losing a few fights (literally and figuratively), treating his wounds with an icy glass of something strong, and successfully waking up the next morning.

rateliff-bass.jpg
Photo by Laura Musselman
The fullness and warmth of the band's performance, punctuated by grand piano, double bass, and the simultaneously intimate and larger-than-life Triple Door, felt more choral than pastoral, which is the real sweet spot of their tunes. This was Nathaniel Rateliff's first headlining tour and first ever visit to Seattle, but the band seemed right at home on this stage.

The Openers: Portland's Battleme typically plays with a full band but kicked off the night solo. He's a chatty, Budweiser-drinking Austin ex-pat whose songs are just as much so, each song unfolded like a letter he left in his jeans pocket. It was a quick 20-minute set but had exactly the right mood to prelude the rest of the night.

Pearly Gate Music played as reliably charming and pleasant as ever but with heavy heart last night. Condolences go out to the family of Zach Tillman, who shared at the show that he'd learned of his grandfather's passing that morning.

Personal Bias: I've seen Nathaniel Rateliff play shows through about four different band names, dating back to when he and current bandmate Joseph Pope III led an act with more amps and less harmonica. I was initially skeptical of the self-named iteration, but last night's show makes me think it's his best fit.

The Crowd: The front half of the seating all seemed to know someone in one band or another, which meant a lot more whoops and hollers than you usually get for songs self-described by the band as "dreary."

Random Notebook Dump: I'd never seen anyone hook up a harmonica to a pedal until Pope did it for "You Should've Seen the Other Guy."

 
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