I say "strange" in spite of the fact that, by a good margin, Alert the Medic was the most "Nova Scotia" of the bands that played the Elm/Oak Ballroom on night one of Nova Scotia Music Week. The Halifax band fits within a long tradition of no-frills pop-rock that's always had a home in a province so dependent on bar scenes. Like Matt Mays or the Trews, Alert the Medic's songs are based around riffs and rock poses, often catchy but, in their case, rarely offering much to surprise.
That lack of surprise isn't always a problem, mind you, and when Alert the Medic's hooks connect, they sound like they deserve to be in the same league as the aforementioned veterans: a song like "Echo and Fade," from this year's The Phantom Moves, sounded massive last night, with nearly the entire band taking part in its call-and-response. But not all the songs stood out so strongly, despite the best efforts of vocalist Ryan MacDonald. He performs like a whirling dervish, finding off-kilter dance moves where one would suspect no dance moves should rightly exist. He makes Alert the Medic incredibly fun to watch, but sometimes perhaps carries too much of the weight of fighting to make the band stand out.