SXSW Kicks Into Music Mode With Sets From Nathaniel Rateliff, Lukas Nelson & More

Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats performs onstage at the Pandora showcase during SXSW at The Gatsby on March 13, 2018 in Austin, Texas. 

On Tuesday (March 13), the music-centric portion of South By Southwest kicked into high gear in Austin, TX, with performances from newcomers and returning favorites. 

Nathaniel Rateliff noted that he’d been absent from South By Southwest “for fucking years” after playing nine straight festivals during the early days of his band, the Night Sweats. But he still had wisdom to pass along; “Remember to pace yourself. And stay hydrated.”

That was good advice, because Rateliff and company caused some considerable night sweating in the wee hours of Wednesday morning to close a Pandora-sponsored showcase at The Gatsby.

Fortified by the group’s second full-length studio album, the just four-days-old Tearing At the Seams, the brassy soul-rock group tore through 14 songs in nearly 50 high-octane and enormously high-volume minutes. The Night Sweats sounded tight and dialed in despite some technical problems that caused Rateliff to shout out the roadie who worked diligently throughout the show to fix them. The selection of new material, including the single “You Worry Me” and “Say It Louder,” fit right in with favorites such as “Look It Here,” a propulsive “I Need Never Get Old” and “S.O.B.,” during which Rateliff ordered the crowd, even the VIPs in the balcony, to get on their knees for a moment of sermonizing.

Preceding Rateliff and following a roaring performance by Nikki Lane, Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real were visibly galvanized to be playing in their home(ish) town and showed it with a charged 45-minute set during which the son of Willie showed off his potent guitar chops (particularly on the epic “Georgia,” playing part of the closing solo with his teeth) and some room-shaking vocal chops on “Ain’t Gonna Die Alone” and “Find Yourself.” Nelson also started with “Entirely Different Stars,” a brand new song about aliens that seemed to convey a few political overtones.

Earlier Tuesday evening Larkin Poe and Rayland Baxter played arena-volume sets for the 18th annual BMI Howdy Texas, which this year switched locations from Stubb’s to the Yeti Flagship store on South Congress Street.

Nashville’s Okey Dokey was happy to be playing its first show ever at the Scoot Inn on Tuesday afternoon, opening a party for the concert promotion firm C3. The group introduced “Hurts To Be You” as a song inspired by seeing Roky Erickson at the venue, and dedicated its closing song, “Wavy Gravy,” to the Woodstock icon of the same name. Okey Dokey was followed by a funky workout by Durand Jones & the Indications from Bloomington, Ind., which ran the gamut from James Brown to vintage Stax.

Festivals 2018