We have all had the experience of having a social media notification that a former acquaintance or an old friend wants to connect. Plenty of us have clicked that accept button, only to be greeted with a canned response from said person asking that we meet over coffee to discuss a fantastic life-changing pyramid-building opportunity. It’s rare to have that estranged person resurface without an ulterior motive of some sort.
Fortunately the latter happened a little more than two weeks ago at the Light House Arts Centre, when after a lengthy absence, The Rural Alberta Advantage (RAA) was back on stage in Halifax. They weren’t touring a new album, or promoting anything of the sort. They simply wanted to showcase the material that made us all fall in love with the Ontario based indie-rock band with a misnomer for a moniker.
It was a show that may have flown under the radar for some, but in looking around the Light House concert hall (in its hybrid GA/Seated configuration) there was a large contingent of RAA fans who weren’t about to miss the band’s long-overdue return to the region (they last performed in Halifax as part of HPX in 2017). This night was not only a treat for the Halifax fans, but it was a family affair for the band as both Paul and Nils’ wives were in attendance, as were Amy’s parents.
Earlier this year the band released its new single (“Plague Dogs”), which was included in the career-spanning setlist that drew from the band’s 10+ year career. The call and response at the start of “Frank AB”, or the impromptu percussion demonstration that Paul and Amy put on during the lead into “Edmonton”, showed a band who looked to be having as much playing for the Halifax crowd, as they did watching the band perform.
This was a band reconnecting with its fan-base after a long absence, and being warmly welcomed back. For those wondering, all of the RAA pre-requisites were performed (“Brother”, “Terrified”, “White Lights” and “Vulcan, AB”) and we were treated to a couple of new tracks (“Conductors” and “Wake Up”).
Have you met Zoon?
On this trek east, the band took the opportunity to introduce us to their pal Daniel Monkman aka Zoon, who was tapped to provide support on this East Coast swing. Zoon’s style had been dubbed Moccasin-gaze (a spin on the thoughtful genre Shoegaze), and true to form the opening set consisted of these lush atmospheric soundscapes on which required the listener to really lean in and listen. At points during their set Monkman’s vocals reminded me of a sad Neil Young, and while they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it was a fantastic way to kick the night off in Halifax.
It’s always nice to spend time with an old friend when they drop into town. Let’s just hope that the Halifax-RAA drought doesn’t last another 6 years. From the sounds of things there may be a new album on the way, so we’ll wait and see. Either way, we’ll be right here with outstretched arms and open ears.
The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Zoon