There was a generous amount of mutual admiration on display Friday night at the sold out Cedar Cultural Center. A large, supportive crowd turned out for the Rural Alberta Advantage, and the band seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing in front of another Minneapolis crowd, a place where they have sold more copies of their debut record Hometowns than any other city in the U.S. Even though it was a surprising (to me, at least) seated concert at the Cedar, which hindered a bit of the show's early momentum, by the end of the night the entire crowd was standing to congratulate a wonderful, engaging performance by the Toronto three-piece.
The band played nearly all of Hometowns, as well as a batch of new songs during their 80 minute set, charming the audience not only with their stellar songs, but also continually complimenting Minneapolis (as well as the Current and the Electric Fetus, calling them both "treasures") and telling us how much they loved playing here. It was obvious that the band felt completely comfortable on stage, and their easy camaraderie with the crowd only added to the spirit and sentiment of their music.
After a rousing "Don't Haunt This Place" and "Luciana" got a good majority of the crowd on their feet, front man Nils Edenloff played a solo rendition of Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger," giving the song more of a coffee house sound while stripping it of any bombast. "Four Night Rider" and "Edmonton" were other clear standouts, while the recent catastrophic events in Haiti only added to the magnitude of the tragic lyrics of "Frank, AB."
But this was ultimately an uplifting, stirring show, with the main set concluding strongly with the propulsive "Drain The Blood," (my favorite song of the night) and "The Deadroads." After the briefest of breaks, the band played another new song (tentatively titled "Rough And Tumble"), before ending their encore with a tender version of "Sleep All Day," and a dynamic "The Deathbridge In Lethbridge," which found the band entering the crowd during the song's coda. Then, with all three members in the crowd (which Edenloff claimed they've never tried before in a room that big), the band closed the night by serenading the audience with "Goodnight," which was a perfect and fitting way to end a show that truly exemplified the redemptive and lasting power of music.
Local band Dark Dark Dark opened the night with a winsome, amiable set, and announced that they have a new EP coming out in March. The four-piece also just started recording a full-length album, which should be out later this year.