I feel like there have been a lot of good double-bills happening this year, and this past Friday at the Commodore was right up with the rest of them. The Rural Alberta Advantage is touring their new album called The Wild, and have brought with them none other than BC's own Yukon Blonde.
Not counting that one time I saw them this summer on an outdoor energy drink sponsored truck that turns into a stage, it's been a year and a half since I've seen a proper show from Yukon Blonde. And in that time they've been working on some brand new music which they shared with the Commodore. Playing pretty much a full set, they started with a host of brand new songs, including "Emotional Blackmail", a sultry song that bassist James Younger took lead vocals on, and a slow jam from Brandon Scott. The new songs sounded great, and was everything you love about Yukon Blonde, like their killer harmonies, just cranked up a notch.
Almost exactly halfway through the set, they played the new single (and total earworm) "Crazy", and transitioned into old favourites for the rest of the set, starting with "My Girl" which had the packed floor singing along. Jeff Innes was also in fine form, literally rolling up his sleeves to rock out, as they brought the set to a close with the ridiculously fun & upbeat "Favourite People".
It was nice to hear the tease of the new stuff from the band, and makes me that much more excited for the upcoming album.
I mentioned it being a while since I saw Yukon Blonde, but it's been twice as long since the last time I saw The Rural Alberta Advantage perform live. Guitarist & vocalist Nils Edenloff and drummer Paul Banwatt were joined by new member Robin Hatch on keyboards, bass, & also vocals, for a set that spanned their four albums, going all the way back to the moody "Don't Haunt This Place" up to "Beacon Hill", a song written the recent wildfires in Fort McMurray.
Throughout the night, Nils' distinct vocals rang through the room, as well as Paul's frantically superhuman drumming and Robin doing, well, all the things at once. Highlights included older hits like "Barnes' Yard", "Vulcan, AB" (one of many Alberta themed songs) and the explosive "Stamp", dedicated to Gord, and new ones from the album like the darker "Alright" and the building energy "White Lights" (which, I was a little disappointed featured mostly blue stage lights, but whatever).
After wrapping up the main set with the simmering intensity of the aptly named "Terrified", they were back for a few more, Nils responding to the chants of "One more song" by joking that their songs are pretty short, so they'd do a few more, as they launched into "The Build". And finally, they finished off the night with one of my favourites of theirs -- as well as a lot of others, judging by the stomping, clapping, dancing, and singing along -- one last Albertan-inspired tune, "The Dethbridge In Lethbridge".
You know how sometimes you have those bands where you pick up their albums, and you like them, but it isn't until you see them live that you remember just how good they are? The RAA is one of those bands for me, and it's not until you feel the raw power of the trio that you remember.
Don't Haunt This Place
Bad Luck Again
On the Rocks
Beacon Hill (fort Mac)
Runners in the Night
Drain the Blood
The Dethbridge in Lethbridge