Sometime last spring or summer The Rural Alberta Advantage‘s debut album, Hometowns, was put on my iPod. It has been in the regular rotation ever since — very heavy rotation at times.
That said, I won’t get into an album review here. Of Hometowns, I will say only this: I love that record and I think if you give it a chance, you will too.
Needless to say, when I found out that RAA were going to be playing in Chicago, I jumped at the chance to review the show for Chicago Tunes. I bought tickets the day they went on sale and waited patiently until the day would finally come when I could stand in their presence and scream the words to “Drain the Blood” right back at them. And that’s exactly what I did.
The show was a mix of old and new. They’ve been recording their second album in Toronto recently, and Schubas was the first time a few songs had been played in front of an audience. The new stuff sounded great to me, and I thought they fit in nicely with the vibe of the first record.
I was a bit surprised at the amount of new stuff being played. It can sometimes be a show-killer to make an audience listen to a bunch of songs they don’t know, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it every bit as much as I did.
The best part of the show, for me, was every time they played one of their fast-rockin’, electro-pop songs that I think should be played by radio stations everywhere. “Luciana” kicked things off, and I really couldn’t think of a better opener. The crowd was hopping and screaming along with Nils from the first line through to the end and loving every second of it. Which is a good thing, because RAA is definitely a band that feeds off the energy of the crowd.
Songs like “Luciana” or “Deadroads” are great sing/scream-a-long songs, but the real key to the music on those tunes is the drumming of Paul Banwatt. On record, the drum sounds good, and really drives the music. Live you can see Paul setting the mark for the rest of the band to follow. His hands were a blur all night, and I was amazed at how good he really is. He even took a second to share a little Run-DMC with the crowd during a broken string change.
Overall, the experience of a Rural Alberta Advantage show is a great one. They play songs that get the crowd bouncing up and down, singing along with every word, and having one hell of a good time. Even when they slow things down a bit, as with “In the Summertime” or “The Ballad of the RAA,” the crowd swayed, receiving the voices of Nils and Amy happily, feeling the earnestness and deep emotion of each note.
This was the last show for RAA in the states for the year. Schubas allowed them to handpick the other bands playing, Great Bloomers and The Wooden Sky. What I caught of both of their sets was very good, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing anything beyond that.
RAA will return, hopefully, early next year with a new album. I would highly recommend that you make a point to get to their live show.
- The Rural Alberta Advantage, based in Toronto, is comprised of Paul Banwatt (drums), Nils Edenloff (guitar, keys, vocals) and Amy Cole- (keys, vocals, percussion).
- Hometowns, the debut album by Rural Alberta Advantage, is available on the band’s website for $18 (Canadian).
- Check out my video interview with The Rural Alberta Advantage.
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The Rural Alberta Advantage perform “The Deadroads”
The Rural Alberta Advantage perform “Luciana”
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