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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Live Show Review: The Rural Alberta Advantage


How ‘aboot’ that?  The Rural Alberta Advantage, a trio of indie-inspired musicians from Alberta, Canada, found their way to Tasty World Tuesday night, and the result—a mellow, yet powerful performance causing the audience to go more into deep thought rather than scream out loud. 

“You guys are really quiet, you must be really paying attention,” lead singer Nils Edenoff told the crowd of 25 or more hipster-type fans bobbing back and forth to the raging drums of Paul Banwatt.  This was the mood of the entire 30 minute set performed by the three folksy Canadians. 

Speaking of drumming, Banwatt’s rhythm and range really shined in last night’s performance, with his hard hitting beats of the bass drum, and his high energy playing style, picked up the slack when a song needed more than just an acoustic guitar and synthesizer.  From hip-hop inspired beats, to cymbol heavy crashes, Banwatt’s drumming lit up the audience, bringing them back up from a slower, less drum-heavy track.

Though, several of the songs were upbeat and brought out the audience’s inner dance machine, for the most part, the songs were more mellow and thoughtful, causing the unsuspecting listener to drift into a type of acoustic meditation that they were suddenly snapped out of by Edenoff, who added some insight into upcoming songs, as well as asking the audience, “So, what’s the best barbeque in Athens?” 

Amy Cole, the one drum hitting, xylophone tapping, synth rocking, tambourine shaking female RAA member, bridged the gap between acoustic guitar and drums by adding occasional drum beats on certain songs, while adding “ooo’s” to other tracks, inserting a nice light vocal to the loud, sometimes gruff vocals of Edenoff. 

One of the stand-out tracks of the night was the rendition of “In the Summertime” from RAA’s newest album, Hometowns.  Cole, beating the uni-drum three times and then tapping the tambourine twice, while Edenoff crooned about aging love that never dies with lyrics like, “And when we're middle aged/You tell me I loved you like a renegade/
And how I say the things that make you sway/And mostly I tell you you did the same” gives you the sense that maybe this guy knows a thing or two about true love, or something close to it. 

The up-tempo songs were good, but the ballads are where the heart of The Rural Alberta Advantage lay.  It was a chilly Tuesday night in the Classic City, but upstairs at Tasty World, our hearts were warm with the poetic lamentations of Edenoff.  And the chills that were felt in the venue last night did not come from a cool fall evening, but rather from a band that has the perfect equilibrium of emotionally-driven talent. 

And, by the way, Edenoff’s stripped acoustic version of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” was pretty great too.  Remember what I said about those ballads?  Canada’s doing something right.

-          Jessica Cole

Currently Listening to:  “In the Summertime” by The Rural Alberta Advantage

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