Minneapolis might have more in common with parts of rural Canada then other American cites in both climate and temperament. Maybe that’s why Toronto-based trio Rural Alberta Advantage have made three tour stops here over the last 6 months. Their debut album “Hometowns” is front man Nils Edenloff’s loving testimonial to the benefits of growing up in his hometown of Alberta and it has resonated enough with Minneapolis fans that their last show at the Cedar Cultural Center, as well as their September show at the 7th Street Entry both sold out quickly.
Those lucky enough to score tickets to the December 15th show witnessed a very appreciative and gushing RAA, who treated them to a wonderful night. The show started out with the haunting folk of openers Dark Dark Dark, whose lead singer posesses the sharpest looking accordion I’ve ever seen. Their set and atmosphere blended flawlessly with the eclectic gymnasium look and folding chairs of the Cedar. Maybe it was the organic cookie I purchased at the concession stand, but I began to feel like I was watching them in a friend’s basement instead of a Minneapolis concert venue.
Although the sit-down atmosphere of the Cedar was a perfect compliment to the brooding Dark Dark Dark, it was a slight puzzlement to the RAA. Part way through the set when they announced they had never played any place where there wasn’t room for people to dance before, but the comment came with a smile and the crowd could sense that the band was enjoying the different vibe after months of touring.
Unlike their last stop in town at the 7th Street Entry, there was no drunken, nonsensical yelling for “5 more years”, a reference relevant only to that one person, just an audience sitting and hanging onto every beat and absorbing every word. If the audience seemed to know every word, it was probably because of the eighteen songs played thirteen were from the “Hometowns” CD. The song that got the largest reaction was a solo acoustic cover of “Eye of the Tiger,” done with way more earnestness than most people would think possible.
Set highlights included “ Four Night Rider” with Banwatt’s exuberant drum beat, Current mainstay “Don’t Haunt This Place”, and newer song “North Star”. Edenloff and Cole’s harmonies especially shined on songs “Rush Apart” and “Frank, AB”. Even the ballad “In the Summertime” had an electricity to it that sparked the band to move with the song. Amy, as she switched instruments from xylophone, to drum, to tambourine and back, didn’t stop bouncing through the full set or four-song encore.
The show concluded with the song “Good Night,” as the whole band entered the crowd and proceeded to serenade them. With the talent and show the RAA bring, they are welcome to call Minneapolis a hometown anytime, and to stop here as often as they wish.