The Rural Alberta Advantage Is Not a Band of One Moment

August 5th, 2009

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Music Hall of Williamsburg – August 5, 2009

(Photo: Marc Hodges)

It is the (bad) habit of live-music reviews (and reviewers) to reduce an evening to a singular moment. It is typically the first or last song, or the night’s loudest or quietest moment, wherein we substitute dynamics for substance. This crutch is as reductionist as it is useless. In the case of a band like the Rural Alberta Advantage, to reduce their live performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg to a single moment would be like an indie-rock Sophie’s Choice. There are bands that have one moment and there are bands that have many. The Rural Alberta Advantage is not a band of one moment.

In a peculiar rarity, last night’s show was both loaded and free. Escaping the contradictions, Rural Alberta, now a comfortable headliner, took the stage after 11, unloading their catalog on a waiting and studied audience. Running through album favorites “Frank AB,” “Don’t Haunt This Place,” and “Four Night Rider” in rapid succession, the band moved along in typically self-deprecating fashion. Lead singer Nils Edenloff, after an unsuccessful explanation of “Four Night Rider,” reflected, “Well, I guess I need to learn how to tell stories.” Later he added that they “can’t wait to come play here again.” It is exactly the type of magnanimity that Americans so secretly envy in their Canadian neighbors.

We won’t shrink the set down to these moments. Edenloff already tells great stories. It is we who need context. And we, along with greater and greater numbers, will have no choice but to see the Rural Alberta Advantage again. —Geoff Nelson