Young Rival Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, December 17

Young Rival Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, December 17
Photo: Shane Parent
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Charm was at an all-time high at the crammed-to-capacity Horseshoe, with Young Rival putting on their record release show. A mariachi band, Mariachi Fuego, started off the night, for goodness sake. (Yes, they wore matching suits; yes, they played "Guantanamera"; yes, they also threw "Feliz Navidad" in there; "Good job on the singing, you are now honorary mariachi members, free tequila shots!") A group of about five people put some serious hip happening on display during their set, which then led to three girls taking over the dance floor completely. "Don't ever stop playing music!" someone shouted, a sentiment surely shared by others.
 
A balloon that read "Yee-ha, it's party time" hung stage-side, and a pair of lit-up "Young Rival" signs slowly changed colours while frontman Aron D'Alesio attached bouquets of fake white flowers to each mic stand. The show began with a barefoot figure draped in a gold sparkle cloak slowly walking on stage, posing with arms outstretched, and then slowly drifting offstage as the band arrived. The trio were sporting gold sparkle attire that matched the Horseshoe's golden back wall; D'Alesio and bassist John Smith wore matching black-lapelled gold blazers that gave them the air of a band playing a '50s prom; drummer Noah Fralick and D'Alesio had matching long chain medallions. It's all in the details, none were overlooked and each one added to the theatrical delight.
 
These three undoubtedly know how to put on a show. Stepping onto the gold-accented stage and right into "Carry That Weight," the opening track of this year's Interior Light, Young Rival spared not a moment to get their rock'n'roll ball, well, rolling. The waltzy "Bent Out of Shape" calmed things down a tad before getting into the catchiest cut, "Scruples." "This song is about a creepy guy from our hometown of Hamilton, and it goes exactly like this," said D'Alesio, who kept banter at a minimum but surely was cheeky every time he did speak. The trio then moved on to older songs for a spell, with "Black is Good," "The Ocean" and "Two Reasons," pausing momentarily for a quick beer break. "Let me take a moment to take a sip and listen to some birds," said D'Alesio, as, sure enough, amusing bird sounds filled the brief silence.
 
Tunes from Interior Light translated very well live: "Where's It All Going" was awfully groovy, while "Living Like You Should" was buttery smooth despite a minor lyrical goof from D'Alesio and a subtle drum fumble from Fralick. Smith looked to be in a downright trance during "Take Me to the River," with his eyes shut as he swayed back and forth. The high energy "Authentic" and "Elevator" had the crowd burst into jumps and shoves, as D'Alesio bounced from microphone to microphone for varying vocal effects. The band treated us to a new tune, "Lucky" — a riff-heavy number with terribly satisfying starts and stops and a catchy but snarky refrain of "I don't owe you nothing."
 
All in all, Young Rival have proved yet again to be a near-flawless band that put on the best shows and have the best damn time doing it.