The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Midnight Reruns @ Turner Hall Ballroom
The bare orchestration of The Rural Alberta Advantage works
because each instrument bursts with such excessive volume. The music truly
depends on it. Front and center lays Nils Edenloff’s voice, which mixes the
nasally Jeff Mangum groan and a Billy Corgan sneer and, more times than not,
features Edenloff belting into the microphone. His singing evokes such passion
and dedication that the frontman’s face shows a little redder following the
longer verses. The powerful strumming of his acoustic guitar only helps
energize that quaking intensity. And then there’s the drumming of Paul Banwatt,
who instead of being relegated to the usual position behind the band, sets up adjacent
in order to better show off his forceful prowess on the kit. Many of The Rural
Alberta Advantage’s songs take its cues not from the guitar but from Banwatt’s
propulsive drums. The only subtlety is provided by multi-instrumentalist Amy
Cole, as she tinkles the glockenspiel or sings in soft croon.
The Rural Alberta Advantage combined these spare elements into a riotous affair Thursday night at the Turner Hall Ballroom. The show was brisk-paced and unrelenting, with most songs clocking in under three minutes. Playing for barely more than an hour, the band’s brief set time exhibited its propensity to keep things concise yet booming. It’s folk music played hard and fast, with little attention paid to what came before. Relying on material off its two releases, 2008’s Hometowns and 2011’s Departing, the band also interspersed some newer material into its set and announced a forthcoming record this year.
Despite a few cracks that progressively worsened as the night wore on, Edenloff’s voice sparked with vigor and sometimes overpowered the other instruments—in an era when vocals are mixed lowered than the accompanying instruments, the clarity was refreshing. And Banwatt’s drums equally remained mighty and dynamic.
The bleak, desolate environment of Alberta, Canada has always weighed heavy in the music of The Rural Alberta Advantage, so, it made sense that the band would comment on its immediate surroundings. Ever thankful that the crowd showed in face of the wintry conditions—which weren’t all that debilitating—the group displayed a certain charm. You got the sense that all the gushing about the city was indeed sincere. “We love it here—the beer, the sausage, the pizza, everything,” Edenloff proclaimed. A WMSE sticker even marked the band’s floor tom. On the other side, the crowd was well-behaved, if a little chatty, only to be brought down by a few sloppier hooligans, who hooted and hollered at every apparent opportunity.
It’s always a welcome sight to see a local band open for a touring act—it’s a symbiotic relationship for sure, as the two ostensibly draw divergent audiences. What’s nice about the Midnight Reruns addition is that the band is relatively new and still growing its fan base, and rather than leaning on a veteran outfit with a dedicated following, The Rural Alberta Advantage opened up a space for a band worthy of a larger audience. Midnight Reruns flawlessly performed material off its self-titled debut, and littered the night with impeccable guitar riffs, catchy hooks and a genre-bending sound.