Saturday Sunday live review: Last minute phone call last night led me to the Mercury Lounge on 5.30.09 with my bud Jim to catch a early show by The Rural Alberta Advantage who recently signed to Saddle-creek, I Was A King from Norway and Elevator Fight (Philly).
Ok so we totally missed Elevator Fight, who apparently have some star power in the band with the offspring of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. Zoe freaking Kravitz who my daughter is named after on vocals. Can’t believe it honestly. Has it been that long? But we had a decision to make at the bar as to what to drink as they played their last song. I’m sure they will get other Saturday nights and I’ll try not to miss it; just somebody send me an invite and we’ll be cool. They play this sort of cliche roots rock from the couple tunes I heard on their myspace.com page. I think her band needs to do some more digging in Daddy’s record collection and find their own voice but I get the sense they are going for a straight up pop direction so there may be no hope. Her voice is good so hopefully they put that to good use as you would expect she got her mamma’s looks. This is all pretty funny to me because I’m now recalling as we were waiting for the next band that I noticed this smashing gal that reminded me of a grown up Cosby kid and it all makes sense.
In the grand scheme of things culturally America has influenced the world musically and I Was a King is proof positive of that. The first hurdle I always wonder about is how do bands write melodic pop songs in Nordic and then sing them in English?
Ok, I know the rest of world needs to learn more than one language so that is probably a barrier on our part. I Was A King borrow nicely from art of the short song by gbv and blast out equally potent and abbreviated J Mascis like solos. This band’s performance was a surprise and in this configuration was truly driven by their rhythm section as the two guitarist pretty much played the same shoegazer parts. They were most powerful when they broke away from that but damn I don’t think I’ve seen more capos used in a single show– that’s got to be a pain in the butt to remember so kudos just for that. The real glue was in the singing above the mask of the guitar wash. Guy/Gal vocals really is part of their magic that could be compared to Belly and Swervedriver jamming the black angels without the heroin parts. heh? The lead singer Frode Strømstad has got his song writing machine down Anne Lisa can sure hold her own vocally. I was impressed.
Live I don’t think they sounded anything like Apples In Stereo or Neutral Milk Hotel like their bios says to file them under; in particular because of the lack of additional instrumentation in the live configuration joining them on stage but allas this is a good band and worth catching. I tried to chat with the other guitarist about her guitar playing and pedals but she was chatting up some haggard looking new yawker dude. Check out their most recent self titled album on emusic which was recorded in Brooklyn U.S.A btw.
Now The Rural Alberta Advantage (gotta love that nationalistic Canadian pride) sounded more like NMH in the singing delivery department with the support of their diverse but bare bones instrumentation. With barely any gear on stage you could fit this trio in a Fiat! The powerful vocal melodies indeed carried them from song to song. If you had to file and tag them under quirky and diverse would be appropriate like tapes n tapes is to spazzy drumming and their keyboard parts. Was cool to see the main singer guy Nils Edenloff playing a Seagull acoustic guitar. The string that was holding it looked uncomfortable but he seemed truly happy to hold it up and carrying the band out of obscurity coming from a self-released record and now being picked up by Saddle-Creek quite a story actually with a little push from emusic for RAA is all it took which is one of them stories in the big scary city. So expect lots of interesting things from them if they survive their first big tour. At the end of their set they pulled a move straight out of the small band playbook and sang in the middle of the crowd alla Violent Femmes/Arcade Fire. If you never got a chance to see neutral milk hotel and you have 10 bux burning a hole in your pocket this summer go check RAA or I Was A King when they are in your town. The experience will be worth it. A good time was had and thanks for filling my night this past Saturday. No thanks for $7 Sierra Nevada’s Mercury Lounge. Please send this writer beer money.