Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Middle East, 8/5/09

(Nils killed it the entire night)
I have to admit that I expected the Rural Alberta Advantage to put on a good live show. I had read a few concert reviews which were all glowing and I have learned in my musical experiences to generally trust live reviews. I knew I loved the material as well, I can remember listening to the few songs I had on repeat constantly during studying (I know, I actually studied!) for finals semester one. A lot of people have gone through the same transfixion with their debut album, Hometowns, over the past eight months. I know this because I can remember when their MySpace had 8,000 hits, and now it's approaching 200,000. But I especially know it because of how many people jammed themselves into the Middle East club to see these guys. It was the first time in my personal concert going experience that I can truly say that I was front row, as I was reaching out and touching Paul Banwatt's drum set between songs.
(This is actually what he looks like when he's drumming!)
And I would have to say that the enthusiastic turnout was warranted, and then some. Simply put, and I think my two fellow blogmates would agree (Boobhead Bishop was absent), it was the best live show I've ever seen. Every beat of every song was flawless, and the band flowed with energy of a band that is overflowing with talent. In awe of the performance, we kind of forgot to take a setlist, and subsequently can't remember the exact order, but setlists are overrated anyway, right?! (Please say yes...) Their hour long set really seemed to fly by, and before we knew it they were out for their encore (not tremendously special) and then their second encore (tremendouly special) in which they played their "closer" which has yet to be recorded, entitled "Good Night." If you don't already know, the band comes down off the stage and finishes playing in the crowd, completely acoustic. I must say, being one foot from the band as they finished their set was a pretty special way to end the show. All in all, just the most solid, energy filled hour of music I've yet experienced.
(Amy sets the atmosphere with backing vocals and keyboards)

However, despite all the hoopla over the RAA, I would be seriously remiss if I didn't mention the artists that opened, and there were three opening acts. The first was Jennifer Greer, who I thought was very good. I will admit that I have never heard of her before this performance, but that's what opening shows is all about! She had almost a Tori Amos vibe about her, with complex piano based song structures and sudden tempo shifts. I really liked her, but I will give an unfortunate thumbs down to the bassist, who was rocking out like he was possessed despite laying down less than awesome beats. Oh well. Baby Teeth was.... strange. Really, everything about the performance was strange. There's not really much for me to say about it, they rocked kind of an 80's vibe and the lead singer had some pretty stellar moves up on stage. I don't think it was a bad performance, but I don't know if I was ready for it. Then came easily my favorite of the opening acts, Joshua English, accompanied by fantastic viola player (violist??) Lisa Molinaro. They played an incredibly solid set and really seemed to have a lot of experience and chemistry onstage. Joshua spun beautiful guitar driven folk songs, and while the songs certainly can exist without viola, it was always a welcome addition whenever it entered. Joshua claims to have only recently shaved his head, but it seems odd for me to picture him with hair after seeing the show. I was surprised to see that he seems to be out of the public eye, so look for f/k to keep you up to date on him, because I think a lot of people will find him worthy of their attention. For more pics, check out the f/k flickr!
(Joshua English with a harmonica and a shaved head.)


Ben Young said...

Hey guys love the blog and the bands you cover....

however there is a distinct lack of overseasiness to your coverage...

here is a band that I think you may enjoy:

They are an indie band starting to gain attention in Australia and have an amazing live show; reading your coverage of the Rural Alberta Advantage reminded me of them (probably because the gig was at a club called Middle East)

Anyways... enjoy!


yes!lillie said...

Donovan, this is a great post. You really took me to there, to the concert. I'm going to take a listen to Rural Alberta Advantage now!

Goldaline said...

To Ben: Thanks for the tip, that's definitely something we'd love to more of, and we really appreciate the tip. Always nice to know we have friends overseas.

To Lillie: You're making me blush...

Anonymous said...

I'm a 34-year-old father of two, leaving me with nigh zero indie rock or even concert going cred, so take two grains of salt...but this was a great show. I had seen some youtubes of RAA in which Nils seemed tired or just off, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but they just killed it that night. Great effing show. You could tell that the folks who knew the material were pleased, and the folks who were new to RAA were having a blast.