The Rural Alberta Advantage - live in Toronto (Cover Artwork)

The Rural Alberta Advantage

live in Toronto (2011)

live show

The last few months have been a busy but rewarding period for Toronto trio the Rural Alberta Advantage. Just releasing their sophomore album, Departing, the group's been touring all over North America, including high-profile slots at SXSW and Coachella. After finishing up their U.S. tour, the RAA played their biggest hometown show yet, to a well-sold-out crowd at The Phoenix with locals the Hooded Fang as main support.

The Hooded Fang put on an excellent 40-minute set in front of one of the larger crowds they've been exposed to so far. Their especially happy sounding and upbeat tunes were taken really well by everyone. It'd be pretty hard to believe that there wasn't anyone tapping their foot along. The band was dancing up on stage, having a great time, and even got the crowd having fun too. Hooded Fang are a definitely a hidden gem in Canadian indie rock right now, but people need to know about them. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll be getting a lot more well-deserved exposure this year.

The RAA came up on stage in disbelief that they were playing a sold-out show at The Phoenix, but that didn't stop them from anything. The three of them were set up on stage with Amy (keys) on the left, Nils (vocals/guitar) in the middle, and Paul (drums) on the right facing Nils. The hour-long set was half made up of songs from Departing and half from their debut record, Hometowns, with the exception of a solo cover by Nils doing "Eye of the Tiger" (yes, that "Eye of the Tiger") halfway through the set. The energized audience had a surprisingly decent-sized mosh coinciding with the echo of the majority audience singing along. There was even a couple stage dives by the end of the show. Between songs, Nils and Amy spent some time interacting with the audience through friendly banter, constantly bringing up how big a deal it was for them to headline show like this. Both Amy and Nils also mentioned how great it was to have an all ages show for once. It's great to know bands recognize how much it sucks to not be able to see live music because of one's age.

For a band whose only instruments are keys, drums and acoustic guitar, they channel a heavy intensity both recorded and live that's extremely rare in today's folk rock sound. Seeing the band up on stage sweating buckets (especially Paul, blasting through his ridiculously rapid drumbeats), playing their heart out, makes their recent hype in new music completely understandable–with much hope the band will be back in the summer at an even bigger venue with even more people to see what I mean.