rural alberta advantage

New Pornographers, Death Cab for Cutie and The Tragically Hip at Butler’s Barracks, Niagara On The Lake, June 30, 2012

Posted on by lauren in Concerts | Leave a comment

Warning: this review may have been tainted by the neanderthal concert goers. I have never ever, encountered such a moronic, boozy and aggressive crowd; not even at the most metal of metal shows back in my dark high-school days. People were still courteous, helped each other out of pits, etc. This was a different kind of terrible. The day began by driving my grandmother’s pimp mobile, with the license plate “GR8GRMA” loud and proud, to the parking lot where we caught the “shuttle bus” , air quotes. Shuttle bus equated to yellow school bus of annoyance. Full of loud boisterous men that had been drinking since at least 9am, I quietly made a Billy Madison joke, and soon enough my prediction came true, as they all proceeded to yell “O’Doyle rules!” “Piss your pants!” for the majority of the ride.  Show experiences, in my opinion, are 70% band, 30% crowd atmosphere. I find if a band is mediocre but the crowd is amazing and there’s a great energy, I will come out still happy. If the band is amazing, but the crowd is unbearable, it makes the show hard to love. So that is my preface, in my review of the bands, I will try to keep it taint free.

Rural Alberta Advantage

Missed photo call, however they were pretty good. Drew a small crowd as the place was starting to fill up, and of course when they covered a Gord Downie song, and the man himself joined them on stage, the crowd went wild and people ran to catch the treat.

New Pornographers with Neko Case

Neko Case has a fantastic voice, clear as day, never faltering, just absolutely perfect. The New Pornographers kicked off with Moves from the 2010 album Together, and continued through a slew of hits during their set. It was poppy, upbeat, and purely Canadian sounding, glad I got to cross them off the bucket list. The best songs of the set were Mass Romantic, Crash Years and Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk. This was also the time we ventured to the alcohol tent where we fell in love with the “mixed and ready” Canadian Club drinks. Not trying to plug a company during this post, but seriously some good shit.

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie are always great. My third time seeing them, this set made me incredibly nostalgic. I was instantly transported back to senior year of highschool, which was ten years ago! Right when Transatlanticism came out, the album was my official summer album, constantly on repeat, and remained that way for years. The first show I saw was at a place in Buffalo, NY called Nietzsche’s, a small 400 person venue, so incredibly intimate two people in the crowd actually bought the band a wine set and had every patron sign the box. Since that time, Death Cab sky rocketed to a major label, arena type venues and headlining festivals. Yet, even with the large caliber fan base, the idiotic crowd and large outdoor setting, they still made me feel like I was the only person in the crowd watching, as they went through their recent albums and then delved back into my favorites from Transatlanticism and The Photo Album. The sunny hot day became a bit cloudy during their set, but during The New Year, right at the pivotal build up and moment in the song, the sun rose again, making you feel like you were actually starting anew on a very warm January day.

The Tragically Hip

The Hip are one of those bands, pretty much everyone loves them, and their main fan base are drunk guys. When you look up definitions of Canada, and Canadian culture, The Hip will be listed. They’re an underrated overrated band, an oxymoron that actually makes sense. Downie is a superb song writer, and even more so, his stage presence is out of this world. You actually forget that there is anyone else on stage, while you watch his theatrics. It was a little hard to forget the amount of people in the crowd getting into fights, as person after person was yanked out and escorted off the premises. The Tragically Hip, whether intentional or not, riles up a crowd to a point of almost hysteria. Talking to fans, you hear things like “20th time seeing them” or “never missed a show”, their fans define loyalty. This was my first time ever seeing the Hip and as I’ve been told, it was a great live show, but their set list was sub-par, I’m guessing because they didn’t go for all of the fan favorites as per usual. Either way, I’m glad I got to see them, Gord Downie is considered a Canadian music legend where I’m originally from, he outshines most acts with his fantastical stage presence and perfected voice. If you actually haven’t seen them, which is apparently rare in these parts, I highly recommend you see them at least once. Just don’t get caught on the yellow school bus full of vomiting man-children.

Concert Review: Rural Alberta Advantage, Nov 17, Phoenix

Posted on by stacey in Concerts | Leave a comment

There are many similarities between seeing a band and making love. The first time with someone new is always filled with anticipation, uncertainty and intrigue. If you’re lucky it turns out pretty great. But with a repeat performance, the parallels become even more poignant. Sometimes you are more disappointed than you were the first time. Often as one matures, there is slow improvement as skills progress; and rarely, like Thursday night with the Rural Alberta Advantage, it’s like seeing someone you’re completely in love with after being apart for a while. You know that what’s coming is going to leave you entirely fulfilled – and then somehow, it’s even better.

Speaking of first times, I did have a first time with one of the opening acts – a young gentleman named Darren Eedens. Taking on the expanse of the Phoenix solo with his guitar, banjo and borrowed mandolin, Darren managed to captivate the early-comers with his songs that debated what is important in life, and captured his feelings about a bunch of girls that were mean to him along the way.  With an endearingly awkward presence, and fun bluegrass folk style, the most remarkable thing was his amazing technical skill. In such a big space, the show could have benefitted from a backing band. I have no doubt that he would amaze in a small venue. Lucky for us, Darren has upcoming shows at Not My Dog, C’est What and the Painted Lady

“Characteristic of all great lovers, there are little things that they do that are ‘just right’. Things that you wait for with baited breath during repeat performances.”

Following this and wearing the biggest smiles ever, the RAA took to the stage for their last show of a busy touring 2011. They seemed just as excited to play the sold out house as the audience was to see them. By the time the time they hit Don’t Haunt this Place, I knew that the night’s tryst was going to be the best show I’d seen them play.  Characteristic of all great lovers, there are little things that they do that are ‘just right’. Things that you wait for with baited breath during repeat performances.  Amy Cole’s perfectly timed xylophone in Under the Knife and Ballad of the RAA, as well as her angelic vocals and base drumming that started in Rush Apart were captivating. Nils Edenloff’ strained, genuine, passionate lyrical performance hit that spot deep in your chest that makes you hold your breath. Paul Banwatt’s beaming smile while playing complex percussion was positively infectious.

Playing songs from both albums Departing and Hometowns, the audience was with the band for every step. At one point, Nils wistfully reminisced about writing and practicing these songs at a space they had rented just up the street – never imagining an audience like this would be singing all the words back to them.  In typical RAA fashion, they also did a few fun covers – this time with a Canadian twist: The Littlest Hobo, Canada Geese by Gord Downey, and my favourite of the night Lover Lover Lover by Leonard Cohen.

The highlight of the night was the encore. Not even able to wait for the slow clap to culminate, the band jumped back on stage, said “this is our last show of the year, so we’re just going to play as much as we can okay?” and threw it down. North Star and Sleep All Day got the audience swaying, and then Barnes’ Yard and Deathbridge in Lethbridge brought back the dancing and clapping fury that had been going on throughout.  Finally, leaving the stage and heading for a place atop the side bar, the acoustic Goodnight to a silent Phoenix audience was like a forehead kiss at the end of it all – the perfect goodnight.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Barnes’ Yard by Vicente EDPMC

Concert Review: Rural Alberta Advantage, April 29, Phoenix

Posted on by stacey in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – Having spent the past few years in a part of this country that is more rarely toured, I’ve been waiting a long time to see the Rural Alberta Advantage play live. Selling out the Phoenix several weeks before the show, I wasn’t the only person teeming with anticipation for this long-touring Toronto band as they approached their instruments at the front of the stage. We collectively held our breath until the first note rang out – the band exploded with electric energy, and the crowd responded by bursting into a singing, dancing, and clapping frenzy that didn’t stop until long after the show had ended.

Back in town to promote their sophomore album Departing, the RAA remarked on many occasions how happy they were to be home… and it showed. The band played songs from both the new album, as well as from their already acclaimed Hometowns, along with a few covers for fun – a throw-down version of Eye of the Tiger, and a quiet Nils-only Littlest Hobo that got the audience swaying. Many songs came with short stories or explanations, such as the rockslide in Frank, AB that buried an entire town, serving as the inspiration for the song of the same name, the anniversary of which was on the night of the show. In typical fashion, Paul Banwatt’s contagious smile lit up the room as his drumming skill and agility amazed. Nils Edenloff sang every note with the strained passion that tells of every emotionalmoment behind each lyric, highlighted by the beautiful harmonies of Amy Cole, who somehow also managed to be playing a xylophone, keyboards, a bass drum and tambourine – often all at once!

For more than the RAA’s energy and obvious musical talent however, this show had epic quality for the bands genuine moments of awe and humility at the outpouring of support from the hometown crowd. Within 5 minutes of each other, Amy took a moment offstage as she blinked back tears following roaring applause, and then Nils asked the AV guys to turn on the audience lights so he could see the whole crowd and ‘remember this moment forever’. While the band saw this as the biggest show they have ever played at home, I have no doubt that their popularity will only surge further, and will also hope to remember the moment when I was able to be close enough to the stage, to see tears well up in Amy’s eyes.

Drain The Blood by theraa

Concert Review: Caribou and Toro Y Moi, May 3rd, Phoenix

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – First of all let’s talk about how much I love band names that are so obviously Canadian: Great Lake Swimmers, Rural Alberta Advantage, The Besnard Lakes, Bruce Peninsula, Metric (okay not Canada specific, but clearly NOT American) and the focus of this review, Caribou.

I recently fell in love with Odessa the single from Caribou’s second album Swim, it is a melodious departure from the first album. This likable tune with the funky bassline has been on high rotation on my iPod for the past couple of months.

Caribou announced a North American tour to be kicked off in Toronto with Toro Y Moi opening (I missed Toro in March when his equipment was stolen in Brooklyn). The show was at Phoenix so I thought, why not.

Toro y Moi

Toro y Moi had previously toured solo with Ruby Suns, on the Caribou tour he acquired a bassist and drummer. Toro is the hottest kid in the chillwave movement and has taken the industry by storm with rave reviews for his Causers of This debut album. Live, he was okay. The band admitted that they were nervous, as it was their first time playing together in front of an audience. They definitely nailed all the songs and rocked their funky hit Low Shoulder, but I must say this performance didn’t particularly activate my dance shoes like I thought it would.


Caribou came out backed by a simple projected image of the Swim album cover, but their performance was anything but simple…

First sign of a good show, Dan Snaith (Caribou mastermind) began by singing and playing lead guitar, halfway through the song he hauls the guitar onto his back, sits down and starts playing the keyboard – still singing. This was how the whole set went down, not only did Dan rock lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and drums but during Odessa he busted out a recorder and wowed the crowed with that little white pipe!

Being an all ages show there was no one was standing near the stage (boozers were at the back), my friends and I took position at the front because I enjoy watching musicians in action. I suggest getting close at this show, watching Caribou play live is quite hypnotizing, both albums are instrumental-heavy so seeing what goes into each song was extremely entertaining.

The greatest part about this show was when Dan Snaith played drums along with the lead drummer (Brad Weber of Pick a Piper). In my mind, having two drummers is extremely difficult to pull off because of the precise timing needed. These drum duets were executed with such precision that it actually sounded like one drummer with astoundingly complex beats.

It is apparent that Caribou are meticulous about practicing because their show is literally flawless, every tune is impeccably tight yet very detailed. I came away from this show with two things: Leave House as my new Caribou high rotation tune and an extremely high regard for Dan Snaith, you’ve got to hand it to a musical mastermind that also has a PHD in Mathematics.