Last Sunday night The Rural Alberta Advantage headlined a great lineup at the Tractor Tavern. RAA have been coming into their own as a band, as the packed house seemed to indicate. When I reviewed their new album Departing for Popwreckoning, I called their music “sad songs sung as anthems,” but there was little evidence of sadness this night.
Opening things up were Seattle’s own Land of Pines. What at first sounded like simple punky indie rock soon turned into something else entirely. They played their songs with a sense of menace, and most of them threatened to descend into chaos by the end. Don’t be mistaken, though. Land of Pines play songs with very definite, complex pop structures. If you needed a label to slap on the band you could call them “Rilo Kiley with razorblades,” but that doesn’t even come close. Land of Pines could very well be Seattle’s next breakout hit. They have two shows scheduled before the end of the month, see them if you can.
Next up was Lord Huron from Los Angeles. The played sunny roots rock with a slight jam band inflection. Their sound reminded me of bands like My Morning Jacket and Calexico, and the crowd was very receptive. The band members are very obviously talented, and they have a Mexicali influence that makes it very obvious where they are from.
Shorty after ten, The Rural Alberta Advantage took the stage with “Luciana,” from the first record, Hometowns. I thought I was prepared after seeing them at the KEXP studios Friday, but they seriously impressed me. Composed of guitar, keyboards, and drums, they tore through most of their two albums with fury, and a sonic assault that the crowd responded well to. With no electric instruments other than keyboards I was surprised at how loud they were.
About halfway through the set the band left singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff alone on stage for a cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” Surprisingly, it worked very well. The rest of the band returned afterwards, and they finished the main set, ending with “Stamp.”
The band left the stage briefly, and returned to a rapturous crowd to play a well deserved encore. The generous five song encore included two of the highlights of the night, blistering versions of “Barnes’ Yard” and “The Dethbridge of Lethbridge.” After the latter, Edenloff unplugged his guitar, and the band waded into the crowd for the final song of the evening, “Goodnight.” The song is my least favorite from Departing, but here it sounded fantastic, and provided the perfect capper to the evening.
The RAA feel like a band on the verge of writing their Born To Run. Seeing them live, it’s apparent they have great things ahead of them. It’s only up from here.