If you’ve never seen blues-rock powerhouse Patrick Sweany with a full band, make it a mission to do so as soon as possible. Often performing as a one-man band, playing instruments with every available limb, Sweany shines even brighter with this more multi-dimensional sound. When he played his set at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on Saturday, June 21st, he was joined by another (incredibly talented) guitarist Zach Setchfield, Jason Harris on bass, and drummer Dillon Napier, showing off a whole new level of performance.
Despite Rockwood’s rushed schedule in which each act gets an hour (which seems always to include sound check and setup, cutting about 15 minutes from the actual set time), Sweany encouraged his audience telling them, “Our time is short, we’re gonna make it count.” And count it did, with a powerful and full-bodied set that opened with an amped up version of “The Edges”. The band added lengthy jams to many of the songs, but somehow, they still squeezed in many tunes and wasted no time.
Thanks to the sheer volume and force of the band, all of Sweany’s songs sounded like rollicking versions of themselves. Even the clear-eyed blues of “It’s Spiritual” took on a new, pulsating life, though it was probably the sole low key moment of the set amidst the psychedelic blues guitar jams of “Every Gun” and showstopper and crowd favorite “Working for You”, both off Sweany’s latest record Close to the Floor.
To say Sweany is a force of nature is the understatement of the year. This guy brings it with every ounce of energy in his being. He punctuated the fiery instrumentals with many a James Brown-worthy “woo!” and played confidently to his zealous audience full of devoted fans. Sweany is a man who clearly loves his fans, engaging with them throughout and showing his appreciation for them in that charismatic way he does. He even repeated the line, “On my way to New York City” twice during “Working for You” just to please them, and man did they get loud.
He transitions so smoothly between songs, going from the heavier rock and roll sound of “Every Gun” to the smoky blues of “Slippin’” and “Every Night Every Day”, both so sultry thanks to those tinny cymbals and Sweany’s signature rasp.
The crowd went nuts for “Them Shoes”, a beloved and classic Sweany track. And he took the opportunity to give his band a good old fashioned, slow introduction at this point in the set, showing a particular affection for Napier. This was deserved, as the band gave Sweany a wild, electrified sound that accompanied his soulful style so well.
It would have been nice to hear some of his more touching and personal songs, like the album standouts “The Island” and “Terrible Years”, but Sweany really did make the most of the short time he was given. In fact, he did more than that—he owned that stage for every single minute.