The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Hooded Fang @ Venue -- 04/07/11

I am going to admit right off the bat, while I liked both The Rural Alberta Advantage and Hooded Fang, I never really got too much into either band; listened to their respective albums a couple times, but that was about it. But when given the opportunity to check them out, I thought sure, why not, it'll be at least a decent show, right? Boy, was that an understatement.

The six members of Hooded Fang hit the stage around 9:30 and launched right into their insanely catchy and infectious selection of pop songs. They played a pretty decent set length of new and old, and even brand new, teasing a new album out in the summer. Each member of the band was brimming with energy and enthusiasm -- especially lead singer/guitarist Daniel Lee, but especially the other lead singer -- who also switched off between guitar, glockenspiel and even an accordion -- Lorna Wright. I don't think there was a single moment where she was standing still. It was an incredibly fun set, though I was a little disappointed they didn't play "Straight Up The Dial".

After that, I wasn't sure if the The Rural Alberta Advantage would be able to top them, but it was a night of shattered expectations after all. Even though they were a trio, they had about twice as many instruments on stage; and it wasn't just the multi-instrumentalism that was impressive, but the simultaneous-instrumentalism. Nils Edenloff was switching between guitar and keys for at least one song, but Amy Cole was, at one point, playing three instruments at the same time. A korg with one hand, a floor tom with the other, and a moog with her feet. Count the tambourine that was on top of the tom, and that brings it up to four. And let's not forget drummer Paul Banwatt, who was pretty damn impressive on the skins. 
The band was incredibly dynamic with a fantastic stage presence, the set seemed to have more energy than their albums and the sold out crowd absolutely into it, with lots of clapping and singing along. Among their own songs, part way through the set they broke out a cover song, with Nils alone doing a really mellow and folksy cover of... Eye of the Tiger, which turned out to be a really cool interpretation of it.
They ended the set with the new single, "Stamp", but came back out for a few song encore that came to a close with "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge"... or so we thought. As they ended the song, they all left stage -- guitar, tambourine and floor tom in hand -- wandering through the crowd and to the back of the room. They thanked everyone for coming and being great, and asked for quiet as they played one last song, completely unamplified in the middle of the room, standing above the crowd. A crowd that, shockingly enough, actually managed to stay almost completely silent for the song! As Nils belted out "Good Night", everyone started snapping along, creating a pretty amazing experience, and an incredible way to end the show.

Needless to say, both bands turned me from a casual fan to one that will definitely be back next time they come through town.