Published May 11, 2010After enduring a bumpy 2009, due to the exodus of guitar player Kyle Kuchmey and the theft of their touring van, Hamilton, ON's Young Rival brought the power of positive thinking to the nation's capital before heading off on a high-profile North American tour supporting Warp Record's Born Ruffians.
First, though, Ottawa five-piece the MudPlots greeted a handful of soggy and cold Ottawans, showing off their penchant for X-Acto knifed melodies, power-chorded singalongs and, sadly, a safety-pinned sack full of punk clichés.
Next up were homegrown blues rockers Brothers Chaffey, led by the twin-guitar attack of siblings Matthew and Curtis. Sounding (at best) like John Hiatt interpreting the White Stripes and (at worst) a 1980s Labatt Blue commercial, the Brothers Chaffey delivered a squeaky-clean set of trad-rock that failed to compete with the iPhones of the young crowd.
After a partial band overhaul in 2007 that found Young Rival tweaking their sound and changing their name from the dreadful Ride Theory, the newly christened three-piece helped celebrate the release of their "debut" LP by immediately cranking the smoke-machine to eight and the intensity to ten.
Laying down beds of Village Green-era, Brit-friendly shake and groove, bassist John Smith provided a structurally sound low-end for vocalist/guitarist Aron D'Alesio's high-concept melodies to ceremoniously ebb and flow. A late set cover of the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" found drummer Noah Fralick taking over vocal duties, perfectly copping Iggy Pop's whispered growl and Scott Asheton's drum thump while proving just how wide-ranging the trio can sound.
As the crowd, now occupying the previously vacant space in front of the stage, cheered wildly for an encore, Young Rival demonstrated the secret formula to wining over apathetic audiences: just make sure your shit is that damn good.