Having released their new album ‘The Wild,’ Canadian indie rock band The Rural Alberta Advantage set out on their international tour throughout North America and Europe. With a second performance at Maxwell’s Concerts and Events in Waterloo, Canada, The RAA took to the stage to perform for a sold out show and did not disappoint.
Starting the night off was fellow Canadian band Yukon Blonde. Mixing their synth-pop sound with upbeat instrumentals, Yukon Blonde brought loads of energy that resonated wonderfully with the audience. What was truly special was the connection between singer’s/guitarist’s Jeff Innes and Brandon Scott. The two felt like a cohesive unit, moving in-sync with one another across the stage. This was seen in songs like ‘My Girl,’ and ‘Stairway,’ both from their 2012 album ‘Tiger Talk,’ where they had everyone partying along. The excitement and enthusiasm that Yukon Blonde brought was felt in the atmosphere, especially once it neared the time for the main act, The RAA.
When The RAA entered, you knew something great was about to happen. The trio of musicians had aligned their instruments along the front of the stage. Lead vocalist and guitarist Nils Edenloff took center stage, drummer Paul Banwatt was stationed at the far right corner, while keyboardist, bassist, and back vocals Robin Hatch was posted on the front left. There stage arrangement added an extra layer of intimacy, and gave audiences a real chance to see how brilliant Banwatt was on the drums. However, it also gave fans a chance to see some of the problems Banwatt had with his kit. Luckily, it was a temporary fix and gave Edenloff plenty of time to speak to the fans about their Canadian-themed songs like ‘Beacon Hill’ being about the 2016 Fort McMurray fires in Alberta, Canada.
Throughout their set, The RAA went back and forth between ‘The Wild,’ and their many classic hits from the years. With every song that The RAA sung, it felt as if a story was being told. Songs like ‘Tornado ‘87’ from their 2011 album ‘The Departing,’ told the story of Edenloff’s experience living in Edmonton, Alberta during a tornado. The stories strengthened the connection between the band and the audience, adding to that intimacy the band was going for. And when the chorus hit, “I let you go, I let you go, I let you know that I hold you,” the energy from the crowd was electrifying.
Easily, the highlight of the night was The RAA’s final song ‘Terrified’ from 2014’s ‘Mended with Gold.’ Edenloff stepped to the edge of the stage to rev-up the crowd as they sung along and chanted “Uhh-Uhh-Uhh…Uhh-Uhh-Uhh…Uhh-Uhh-Uhh.” It was an unforgettable moment that captured how brilliant The RAA are at engaging with their audience.
With fans cheering for more as The RAA stepped off stage, Edenloff returned to announce he’ll be playing a song solo. He grabbed his guitar and played ‘Northstar’ from ‘The Departing.’ The pace of the night slowed down; the cheers were substituted for a moment of serenity as Edenloff sung his heart out. Benwatt and Hatch joined Edenloff after to finish the night off strong with a performance of ‘Dethbridge in Lethbridge’ from their 2008 debut album ‘Hometowns.’
The RAA did everything right, from their unique stage presence having all three band members aligned front-stage, to how intimate every song felt. The RAA gave fans one night to remember.