Concert Review: Rural Alberta Advantage [Feat. guest Rudely Interrupted, Sneaky-D’s]

Toronto – T’was first sentence I said before this concert began: “Last year this time I was listening to Steward McLean’s stories, watching snow flakes sway and swirl against moon- and sodium-lamp light with a cup of joe…”. In polar opposite to that warm and fuzzy picture, the weather yesterday was as despicable as my mood. Toronto‘s infamous fog-rain set in so my umbrella was useless, slushies on the ground threatened my feet hygiene, dwindling numbers of pedestrians on Bathurst reminded me that people are heading to the holidays and I’m here sulking. And I have had too much beans to eat – this was how I started the concert.

I have to say that the show overcame my huge activation energy and wasn’t half as drab as I felt. Rudely Interrupted opened for Rural Alberta Advantage who ushered in Still Life Still who I did not stay for since it ran past bedtime. Firstly, a bit of history on Rudely Interrupted: they are an Aussie band formed in 2006 and, brokered by the UN, have since toured the world. They are composed of members with disabilities: blindness, autism, and mental disabilities. None of which is as debilitating as having no love for music, and these guys are shining examples. Although the choice of bass and melodies are a bit repetitive, once you see past the novelty factor that people will obviously slap on (labeling which btw would have received head-slaps from everyone in that audience), they were actually very entertaining. I can’t remember the last time I heard about pimples in a song, and I can’t help but smile every time the keyboard waves his arm in the air trying to work the crowd. A solid introduction to the night.

And from down-under, we were taken out West. Rural Alberta Advantage is a 3 person outfit (Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, and Nils Edenloff) from Toronto (named after shared memories of their growing up in Alberta). I had only heard of them by reputation. Having listened to them live, I think I’ll be adding a few numbers to my ipod. My god they were efficient – that was either a complement or they couldn’t wait to be done (which I doubt). There was little or no pause, no moping around to display some pretentious style. Even during tuning in between, the drums and keyboard would make sure the crowd’s primed for the next. That was definitely a plus. At one point, as I looked around, I felt that I was probably the oldest person there… they do sound a bit teen-pop and head-bangy, but the independent vibe is still pervasive and that kept me glued to the floor. The vocal was crisp but not as twisty as on MySpace, and the percussion never overpowering – they get huge marks here because I hate it when I need to analyze the convolution of my heart beat with the bass to get the gist of a song. That’s not a song – it would be called a resonant cardiac massage. The beats were provided interchangeably by the drums (Nils?) and the percussion (Amy) – who was I to object if the band’s having as much fun as the crowd? The best moment was when their swan song Purple City came on. As I listened to words like “purple lights in northern sky”, nostalgia hit and I was awestruck at what I might be missing back home (in reality, probably not much more than the grand opening of a new strip mall the size of Halifax at the thickness of a pie with gangs fighting for the control of said pie). Accordingly, in my homesickness, I went home and skipped the last band…

Right. To summarize: Sneaky-D’s mexicano? Good. Songs and gaffs from unexpected sources? Good. Rural Alberta Advantage? Who are you calling a half-province? 4/5. (Check out the gallery for more pics.)

Posted on by Gary in Concerts