rural alberta advantage [2011]

Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA
13 April 2011

It all happened so quickly. I’d known about Rural Alberta Advantage for some time, but I’d never really given their music a good listen. Well, I finally did, and somewhere in the seven solid straight days of nothing-but-RAA in my ears, I became a believer.

High energy and spirited romps through the peaks and valleys of adolescence and beyond. At times painful, but always sincere tales of love and heartbreak – usually at 75 mph. Occasional ballads in the same honest vein.

In trying to convert my friend, I described them in the following way:

“When I listen to RAA, I think of being a teenager, madly in ‘love’. Hurtling down a scorched July freeway to see her. So excited and so scared.”

And just like a whirlwind teenage romance, 7 days later, I found myself at BOTH on a Wednesday night, on the wrong side of 11:00, precariously “resting” on shiny red plastic in the back room, waiting for the band to finally take the stage.

In the immortal words of Roger Murtaugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

But it’s the band’s addictive youthful energy I was there for, in great part, so I sucked it up and broke myself from my dangerous recline, as their set approached. Into the front room I moved. Into the pulsing, breathing crowd. Into anticipation.

Funny thing about going to see a band you’ve only recently gotten into – you often don’t really know much about them. So I was quite surprised to learn that RAA is only a three-piece band (acoustic guitar, keyboards and drums) and that the lead, Nils Edenloff, is not nearly as young as I’d imagined.

Oh, but he still brought the energy. And the crowd loved him for it. Yet, I’ve got to say, for the second of two consecutive sold-out shows, I was expecting just a bit more love, admiration and excitement from the crowd. I mean, an all-ages show equals a whole helluva lot of accompanied minors (no fewer than 3 “chappies” spotted), so step up, kids. You’re not supposed to be completely jaded yet.

It wasn’t until the final, final encore of the night that the audience truly demonstrated their appreciation. Edenloff and band stepped down from the stage, snaked their way to the middle of the room, and explained that they were going to do something they hadn’t done the night before (sure, I bet you say that to all the crowds): finish the night, in our midst, with an unplugged rendition of “Good Night”. It was perfect.

A bit obvious, perhaps, but subtle is not what RAA is all about. And, as in the case of this final song, what they are all about is unabashed emotion, sincere bellows and cries, and the undeniable sweetness of young love.