Rural Alberta Advantage‘s CD Hometowns was one of my favorites last year. So when word came down (via Twitter, of all places) that they wouldn’t be making a stop in San Diego on their West Coast tour, I was understandably bummed. But hey, they’re playing in LA on a Friday night? Count me in!
Seeing as how it was the last few days of my funemployment, I decided to make an adventure out of it. I took the train from LA to Anaheim, where someone whom I had talked into the show last minute picked me up. From there, we drove the rest of the way to LA and met up with some friends that we were crashing with (one of whom attended the show with us). We grabbed some delicious hole-in-the-wall Indian food and then headed to the Echo.
We made it in plenty of time to see the entirety of the opening act. Jonny Taylor’s music was thoroughly inoffensive, like a cross between Jack Johnson and Lily Allen. At least it was until he spoke rudely to the sound guy, repeating “Where’d my sound go? Where’d my sound go?” until the sound guy plugged back in the cable that Jonny had kicked out of his tuning pedal. Doing sound is already an underappreciated job – there’s no call for rudeness like that.
Contrast that to the RAA. At one point the singer, Nils, went to use his keyboard and got no sound. He investigated, and immediately realized the problem was that he hadn’t plugged it in. No rude words to the sound guy necessary, he just fixed it and moved on. Much better etiquette.
And well, much better music. The RAA play solid indie rock that is at times reminescent of The Postal Service, with perhaps a little bit of Neutral Milk Hotel mixed in (of course, a lot of that has to do with Nils’ vocals). And the drumming – wow. Paul is a beast on drums, and given my vantage point, I spent most of the show watching him wail away.
Hearing them live actually changed the way I listen to their record (which was recently re-released on Saddle Creek, by the way). It boosted my already great appreciation of the drumming, but also the interplay between Nils’ and Amy’s vocals on songs like “Don’t Haunt This Place.” The connection between the band members is obvious onstage, and you get the feeling that they’re still caught up in a collective “WTF?” moment regarding their success as a band.
The audience was incredibly receptive, and the band literally played every single song in their catalog. They also included an acoustic version of “Eye of the Tiger,” rendered solo by Nils. It was pretty fantastic. And oh yeah, there was a Jazzercise sticker on the (tiniest) bass drum (ever). It kind of made me swoon even more. It’s the little things, people.