A tiny mob crammed near the 9:30 Club front stage to sway and nod to the first few songs from Petter Ericson Stakee, who leads the band, Alberta Cross.
Alberta Cross opened for the Heartless Bastards last Saturday, and as their 8-song set progressed, the crowd steadily grew to almost full capacity by the end. The newcomers, not necessarily there to see Stakee and his band of three, also stood with rapt attention as the performance unfolded. Likely winning over many new fans.
Stakee, who is from Sweden and now lives in New York, ascended the stage with his signature hat and Jesus-like hair and opened with the soaring “Ghosts of Santa Fe”. The first single off their new album, Alberta Cross, it makes good use of the single horn played by the keyboardist. In fact, for most songs the keyboardist kept double-duty, one set of fingers on the trumpet and the other on the keyboard.
The band members that make-up Alberta Cross, besides Stakee, the only currently permanent member, rotates frequently.
The third song, “Get Up High”, fully horn-infused, was reminiscent of something from Band of Horses. I almost thought Ben Bridwell (lead singer of Band of Horses) was singing, so closely matched was Stakee’s voice.
Next came “Western State”, a slow, yearning jam that continued to help the emerging crowd get into the mood.
Stakee didn’t talk much during the set, but expressed his appreciation to be back in DC, they last played in DC in 2012 at the Rock and Roll Hotel. The one time he did open up, was to “take it down a notch” and play a song I didn’t catch the name of (also listed as ‘unknown’ on the online set list).
Next came “Crate of Gold”, a rock song that I can only guess is about paranoia, but since the video features the actress, Drea de Matteo, formerly of The Sopranos, I’m not too paranoid about finding the meaning.
Alberta Cross ended their set with the contemplative “Low Man”, fittingly used on the TV show Californication, which may just be about losing a women and being ‘a million miles away’ from life.
Taken as a whole, the show turned out to be enjoyable, with a good mix of Americana, folk and rock songs. I was among those that crammed up to the front of the stage, and could see every nuance of the performance. Next time Alberta Cross comes to DC, hopefully sooner than three years, make a point to check them out.