Last Night: Alberta Cross, Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa

The Hype: Drawing comparisons to such rock luminaries as Neil Young and the Band, relative newcomers Alberta Cross have been touring in support of their first full-length album, The Broken Side of Time. Signed to ATO records (founded by Dave Matthews), it's obvious that these guys have done something right to garner such positive attention. Hopes for this one were high.

Brandon Ferguson
Petter Ericson Stakee hitting a high note
The Show: It was readily apparent that Alberta Cross has been given the opportunities to record and tour based on qualities other than the size of their Southern California fan base. On this particular evening, the not exactly huge Detroit Bar appeared half full. Yet the light weeknight turnout--OC Music Awards were held over in Tustin same night--didn't inhibit the band's performance, which at times proved explosive. Helmed by singer and guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee, who wailed and howled in a near falsetto, the band delivered a set of tunes resonating with sounds of classic rock revivalism. Imbued with more than a smattering of the psychedelic, Alberta Cross' songs at times stretched languidly like a river slowly rising, then snapped to life with the intensity of a waterfall. 

This was largely achieved by lead guitarist Sam Kearney, who used delay and other effects to weave a sonic tapestry that vacillated between the spacey ambience of a hotboxed car and the foot-stomping energy of a barn dance. Highlights of the set included the indie-flavored  "Taking Control," which boasted a stirring drum-roll crescendo, as well as the set closer, "ATX" in which Kearney used a slide to make his guitar sound like a demon-possessed shortwave radio.

Hacienda, of San Antonio, Tex., opened.

The Crowd: College students and post-grad hipsters. Although the room wasn't packed, enthusiasm for this band abounded. At one point several several people in front linked their shoulders together and swayed to the music. During the last song of the set, two fans, one male and one female, jumped on stage and danced between Stakee and Kearney. 

Overheard: "Your beard is awesome!" yelled one fan to Hacienda lead singer Dante Schwebel. "You're right," Schwebel replied, "beer is awesome."

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