BTS Retrospect: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats @ Red Rocks

The cool, dry, dusk air rolling through the foothills of Colorado fills this mystical and mesmerizing venue. Mingling with the smells of Colorado beer, grilled concessions, and 10,000 fans waiting to greet their hometown heroes.  This is my first time coming to Red Rocks as a photographer, my first time making photographs of either band, and honestly, my first time actually even seeing Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats live.  

I started the Behind The Scene podcast in 2015, the same year that Nathaniel and band released S.O.B to the world and broke through the ceiling that most local bands find impenetrable.  Doing this podcast, talking with so many amazing artists both local and national, my fascination with Nathaniel Rateliff has only grown exponential.  Why does one artist break so massively, while other, equally amazing talents are left languishing?  Is it merely a payment for dues rendered?  Or is just timing and luck and kismet and...?

We are allowed to shoot from the photo pit for only the first three songs of both the Slim Cessna's Auto Club and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats performances.  3 songs, 10-12 minutes to try to capture the essence of 2 of the best live bands to come out of Colorado in decades.  While fearing that 3 songs won't be enough to capture the magic of these incredible performers in photo, I quickly realized that I needed less than one half of one song to answer my questions above. 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats are enjoying the success that they are, not because of dues paid, or work ethic, or fate, destiny, luck, or magic.  I mean, sure all of those play a part in the trajectory of any artist.  However, it is much more simple than that.  They are selling out multiple nights at one of the best venues in the world, as well as countless amazing venues internationally because they put on an absolutely electric, engaging, beautiful, and soul fulfilling live show. 

The pairing with Slim Cessna's Auto Club perfectly added to the elevation of the evening as these two grandiose performers left me feeling inspirationally fueled, artistically fulfilled, and emotionally drained.  We don't go to Red Rocks for the live music.  We go to Red Rocks for an experience that can't be replicated elsewhere.  Nathaniel Rateliff, Slim Cessna, and their respective league of extraordinary players delivered us exactly that, an experience that I know I won't be able to let go of anytime soon.

-Shon Cobbs

Photos By: Shon Cobbs