Last night I caught Young Rival with openers The Ascot Royals @ The Casbah in Hamilton. The show had it's ups and downs... try to make it through the opener to get to the goods.
Let me start this with a caveat: I have had no wrong done to me and these guys are a fairly young band who still have a long time to develop their sound. That said, it's difficult for me when songs replace interesting notes with MANY notes. Within the first song of their set, that's how the Ascot Royals lost me. Formed in Hamilton last Fall, the Ascot Royals played a set that smacked of cover band turned honest. These technicians blasted through material from their newest EP as well as covers of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" and Kings of Leon's "The Bucket" and would find a great home playing a steady Thursday night gig at a college pub. There were brief glimmers of something interesting and entertaining, but overall the set had a droning sameness that all the 1/32 notes and tone bends in the world couldn't fix. That said, there was a dedicated crowd of young guns dancing and singing along the whole time so maybe there's something to be said. Wish you well Ascot Royals, but you just weren't for me.
Young Rival however, is. About 6-7 years ago I saw Hamilton's Young Rival at The Underground under their previous name The Ride Theory. I've been trying to get out to their Boxing Day shows for years since. This, the 5th incarnation of the holiday event, was the last with guitarist Kyle Kuchmey who's leaving the band to pursue other opportunities. The sold out venue was packed and listening to Young Rival is like Plato's Allegory of the Cave (http://bit.ly/7RaDc5) for mid-1960s British Garage Rock. Influences like The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and The Troggs came through clear in the set which included new material, tracks off their self-titled EP and songs that I heard the first time I saw them before the 2006 release of "In This City" (as The Ride Theory). With twanged, reverb ladden guitars and 3 part harmonies, for an hour and a half the west-end boys entertained with fantastic musicianship that wasn't overdone (take note Ascot Royals). Noah Fralick is possibly one of the best drummers out there and absolutely stole the show with both his beats and backing vocals. Check out Young Rival December 29, at 2 Doors Down in Brantford (despite the opener).
*Honourable mention for her performance: Leah Radziwon for dancing during the entire evening, but especially during the encore.