On The List :: Rural Alberta Advantage @ Bottom of the Hill [12.16.09]

The show at Bottom of the Hill plays like a celebration for The Rural Alberta Advantage. Every band has an "I think we made it" moment, and the Canadian trio seems positive its came here in July. Touring in support of Hometowns -- re-released by Saddle Creek -- RAA found itself far from home, a couple days into its first major U.S. tour, and enjoying the presence of genuine fans.

Five months later, the followers have multiplied. While staring into a packed house, Nils Edenloff acknowledges this much before he and the band launch into their first song, "The Ballad of The RAA." It is, appropriately, a song about leaving home.

After blowing through tight versions of "Rush Apart," "Don't Haunt This Place," and a new song, memories of the July show return. Edenloff asks the audience how many people were present. Maybe a tenth of the room's population slowly raises their dominant hand. To an outside observer, this seems like an honest response, one that's very much in line with the ethos of the band.

Calling The Rural Alberta Advantage "honest" or "genuine" or other adjectives commonly associated with Canada is stereotypical and unoriginal.

It's also true.

There is no pretense on stage. Even to an audience of one, Edenloff would risk throwing out his voice (which he does near the end of the set during a new tune), Paul Banwatt would kill his drum set -- fast forward to 1:06 of "Drain the Blood" -- and Amy Cole would brilliantly fill the gaps with her voice, her xylophone, her enthusiasm, and her tambourine. On this indie rock occasion, appearances don't matter (Peronis as two out of three beverages of choice?); the music does.

These songs were written in the vacuum of Alberta, Canada with no guarantee they'd ever leave home. Then they did. "None of us thought, when we were coming up with this song that we'd have 300 people singing along in San Francisco," Edenloff says after watching a sold-out venue do exactly that.

We all, invariably, leave the prairies.

Listen :: The Rural Alberta Advantage - "Don't Haunt This Place"
Listen :: The Rural Alberta Advantage - "Frank, AB"


phoebeplagens said...

one of the few bands i can say i had the pleasure of seeing live. they don't have a skippable song. change my heart into petrified wood.

32feet said...

you want a last line? that's a last line.