The last time the Rural Alberta Advantage played Chicago it was a sold out show at Lincoln Hall back in January, so a jump to the Metro on the heels of their excellent new release Mended in Gold seemed logical. It wasn't anywhere near sold out, but there was a quite decent, and very enthusiastic, crowd that pressed to the the front of the stage for their set. The band undoubtedly owes a debt to Neutral Milk Hotel, but lucky for us they've already exceeded that band's output and live performances. It's a unique sound that owes everything to the three band members. Front and center is lead singer Nils Edenloff's fantastically unique voice, which has a polarizing love it or hate it effect on people. In my case it is positively swoon-worthy. Keyboardist Amy Cole also handles backing vocals, her voice pairing intriguingly with Edenloff's, as well as additional percussion and the bass pedals that take the place of a fourth band member. It's a testament to drummer Paul Banwatt's importance that he sets up in line with the other two at the front of the stage instead of behind them. The set was a great mix of old and new, each song meeting with unilateral approval from the crowd. They haven't let the move to bigger venues stop them from playing their last song from the floor in the middle of the crowd. A reverent hush allowed everyone in the room to hear every note. A warming farewell before we headed back out into the rain and cold with smiles on our faces.