Lord Huron and Nathaniel Ratliffe and the Night Sweats at Wolf Trap

On Tuesday night I made my first trip down to Wolf Trap for a concert this summer. Hopefully it won’t be my last, but we’ll see. It’s no secret that Wolf Trap is one of my favorite music venues, and it’s a testament to how much I love it that I’m willing to deal with the awful DC and Baltimore rush hour traffic to go down there on a weeknight. It took me almost two hours on Tuesday, but totally worth it.

We had some rain earlier in the day and there was a chance for scattered storms all evening, so I was a little worried that we might get rained on. It turned out to just be a lovely evening. The only rain was about 5 raindrops which were just enough to create this lovely rainbow.

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The first opening act was an Australian band called Oh Pep! They were sort of folk rocky. I hadn’t ever really heard of them before the concert. They were enjoyable enough, but I’m not sure I liked their music enough to bother listening to it again.

The second opening band, who may actually have been co-headlining but I’m not sure, was Nathaniel Ratliffe and the Night Sweats. I first came across them at the Newport Folk Festival last year sort of accidentally. I wanted to go grab a burrito for lunch from a stand on the stage where they were playing and after I got over there I decided to stick around and watch them for awhile because from the bit I saw while waiting in line they seemed really fun. I only got to see a little bit of their set, but definitely decided they were a band to watch. Shortly after that is when S.O.B. started being played all over the place. They will be at Newport again this year, but having just seen them if they’re playing against someone else I want to see I won’t feel pressured to watch their set.

They were really great and so much fun. They play mostly soul music with a real James Brown kind of vibe to it and Nathaniel Ratliffe has some of the dance moves to match. I was really in love with the trumpet player though who was just jamming, dancing, and grooving through the whole show. If you ever get the chance to see them live I highly recommend it.

The headliner was Lord Huron, which apparently much of the audience was confused about or didn’t care for? I don’t know. It was the weirdest crowd experience I think I’ve ever had at a concert. The people in front of us literally got up and were leaving after Nathaniel Ratliffe until someone else told them there was another band. I’m so confused how they could have bought concert tickets without knowing who the headliner was. They stuck around for the set change and then about a song and half before actually leaving. By about halfway through Lord Huron’s set a whole large swath of lawn around us was completely empty. Maybe we smelled really bad and we didn’t know it? It was very strange. Lord Huron’s set may not have been as energetic as Nathaniel Ratliffe’s and it wasn’t even the best I’ve seen him play, but it certainly didn’t warrant so many people leaving. It was very strange.

I really like Lord Huron and have really enjoyed seeing them a couple of times at Newport, but I do think I would have enjoyed this set better if it had come before Nathaniel Ratliffe. The fact that it wasn’t as high energy seemed like a bit of a let down. I still really enjoyed it though and it’s definitely some great music to chill out to on a summer night. Sadly they didn’t play my favorite song, “She Lit a Fire”, but leaving Wolf Trap while scanning through radio stations I stumbled across some random station I didn’t know playing this song. The station promptly turned into static as soon as I got on the exit ramp leaving the park. I’m pretty sure Lord Huron magically took over my radio to play me that song to make up for not playing it during the show.

It was once again a lovely evening at Wolf Trap. Hopefully I’ll make it back down again at some point though sadly it doesn’t appear it will be next week for the Lake Street Dive show with The Lone Bellow opening.


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