Right here what we've had is a good thing and it will last

Friday night Nellie and I went to see The Rural Alberta Advantage (site | myspace) at Lee’s Palace with Joe and Sheila (who must be gold member frequent RAA concert miles collectors by now). I’d heard loads about their shows, as they play Toronto a lot, but decided I had to experience it for myself.

Because of a birthday dinner we were late getting up to Lee’s and showed up at the tail end of the set by second opener Bahamas (myspace), just in time for a singalong cover of “Purple Rain”, which I did not see coming from a guy wearing a mesh-back Larvacide hat.

Then, the main event. As I said, I’d already heard about RAA shows: even more rapid-fire than their album, with a surplus of sweat and emotion. The benefit of actually being there, though, is the little extras: understanding how it is that Paul Banwatt’s drum sound is so tight, seeing all the blood rush to singer Nils Edenloff’s face and neck as he wailed through some of the more challenging choruses, realizing how Amy Cole makes accent and harmony core to the songs instead of just adding bells and whistles.

Of course they ran the table on Hometowns, but played some new stuff as well. There was even a cover of the Littlest Hobo theme song, cementing my assertion last month that they’re the most Canadian band playing today. The set was short, but I was still sweaty and happy when they closed with The Dethbridge in Lethbridge after an hour or so. I also somehow found myself missing Alberta terribly, even though I’ve only been there twice. I came home and started flipping through travel books about Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and mapping the route to Frank, AB.

Great show, great time. I feel more Canadian now than I did when I woke up Friday morning.

[all linked photos by Chromewaves, who I finally met on Friday and thanked, essentially for being my personal radio station for several years]

The band everybody (especially Canadians) should be listening to

Since the demise of The Rheostatics, the door has been open for the title of most quintessentially Canadian band. I was tempted to say The Constantines but they don’t have the same quirk to their lyrics that made the Rheos part of Canadian culture, and which once made The Tragically Hip interesting. So here’s my vote for the new flagbearer.

I’ve been listening to The Rural Alberta Advantage for a while now, and the more I listen to their finally-released-this-year full-length Hometowns, and the more I really absorb the lyrics, the more they sound like Canada. They sing about perfectly Canadian things, like leaving their homes to drive to Ontario for their careers, or getting out of towns like Lethbridge, or the Frank Slide. And, most importantly, their music is awesome. Super, super awesome and catchy as balls.

Check out their site or their MySpace. If you’re in Toronto they’re playing Lee’s Palace on Nov 20; check out their site for other tour dates.