Author: Michael Zonenashvili
If more bands smiled as often and as sincerely as The Rural Alberta Advantage, more bands would have better performances. Then again, if more bands were as tight as RAA, they'd perform better, too. The three members lined up at the front of the stage--drummer not behind, but on the side--creating a sense of cohesion that furthered their unified, tight sound.As each of the three played their part, they alternated eye contact and smiles with the crowd and with each other. Each characteristically short song was introduced with a short backstory, (usually something pleasantly Canadian that we couldn't relate to, but, oh well) before the band burst into dirty riffs on an acoustic, insanely spastic drum fills, and supporting keys/glock/floor tom.Nils Edenloff's Jeff Mangum/Billy Corgan hybrid vocals were on point, making me notice various juxtapositions in the band. His scratchy vocals and uniquely distorted acoustic guitar were somehow pretty, especially against the backdrop of Amy Cole's backing vocals and quaint tambourine and glockenspiel. Paul Banwatt is a monster, the human equivalent to the Muppets' Animal. Exceedingly complicated rhythms were not given a chance to repeat; instead, massive drum fills acted as the mortar between gaps of keeping the beat. Banwatt accompanied every fill with what looked like sustained screaming, only to close his mouth and breathe until the next fill. Songs such as "Stamp" and "Drain The Blood" emphasized his explosive fills, and even more juxtaposition, as Amy moved back from her keyboards to dance and play the tambourine. I don't want to say the band relied on being cute; this was not the case at all. But when hearing the excitement in their voices when they said the show was the first on their tour to support Departing, I couldn't help but melt a little bit. Between thrashers such as "Barnes Yard" and "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge," came soul-wrenching ballads like "Two Lovers." And when we were satisfied with swaying lightly to the ballads, we then were able to dance, clap, and scream with a polite mood change from Paul's drum fills. Opener Pepper Rabbit has gained a lot of attention opening for bands such as Passion Pit. The trio was clearly skilled, throwing jazzy keyboards, clarinet, and ukulele into their mix. Yet they had many ideas that I wish they had expounded upon. Sections that gave the song flavor, such as looped clarinet and spazzy drum/bass breakdowns, were short-lived, and made me want more.