Prior to seeing Young Rival play at The Dakota Tavern on Thursday night, I read Ben Rayner’s article about the band and its success – or lack thereof. It may seem odd at first to write an article about the success that a band hasn’t had, but what the trio had to say about their music, where its been and where its headed made me even more excited than I already was to see the show on Thursday night.

The articles main theme was that while there is no denying that this trio from Hamilton, ON are amazing at what they do, it’s not “out there” enough to get picked up as “the next big thing”. The band knows that their sound may not be what’s “in” right now – but is that always the best route? I’ve talked before about bands that get too much buzz too early and they fade before the fire is ignited. Sure, it must be exciting as a band to be on blogs all over the world, but what happens when that dies and you’re left with a band that hadn’t grown enough or wasn’t wise enough to stand against the back-lash of the same people who once wanted to be the first ones to be their biggest fan.

Young Rival is a band that has a classic recipe – a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer – something that some new music fans may be baffled by since they don’t have a synthesizer or an auto-tuner. The band is well aware that they don’t have a sound that is breaking any musical barriers, but as the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They may have tweaked it to make it better, but they haven’t strayed too far from the bands that started it all like The YardBirds and Beatles. This is a band that prides itself on it’s musicianship, and with all the Rebecca Blacks bombarding the blogsphere, I would say choosing honing a craft over hype was the right decision.

Jay and I took an eventful bus ride into Toronto and after a 45 minute walk, we finally found the legendary Dakota Tavern. It was my first time at the venue and it was something that cowboy dreams are made of. Vintage decorations and a small intimate stage, decorated with simple white lights were the perfect setting for a show that I had been looking forward to. Local Toronto band Wildlife opened the show and I can easily say that they did their hometown proud. These 5 dudes did not hold back in their performance. It was loud and sweaty. They played catchy songs with instrumental interludes and build ups that had me wondering if it was my heart beating in my chest or the song. I’ll let the video show you what my words wouldn’t do justice, but make sure you click here and grab Wildlife’s album Strike Hard, Young Diamond


Young Rival was up next and the small bar was at capacity. There is something to be said about a band who has fellow musicians singing their praises and waiting in line to catch their shows. Young Rival had bands like Hollerado, Born Ruffians, The SheepDogs and Cuff The Duke front row and centre for their show.

The band’s music has an amazing 60s sound. Listening to them it’s hard to believe we were born in the same year. Actually its not just the listening, it’s watching them play their instruments on the same level as men who have decades on them that is pretty amazing too. I think keeping the band with just the basics of guitar, bass and drums, helps keep the nostalgia of the music as well – I almost felt like when I left this underground bar, I would walk out into a world where kids were protesting Vietnam and The Beatles “Paperback Writer” would be debuting on the charts.

[audio:|titles=Young Rival – Got What You Need]

Being at a show as a spectator is kind of weird of sometimes. It’s like when someone is talking to you, you automatically look them in the eye. So, when someone is singing at you, you feel like you should do the same. That being said, singer Aron D’Alesio’s guitar skills were able to take my eyes to his hands. I don’t play the guitar, so I don’t know much about technical skill, but I know that something is difficult when I see it. His fingers were sliding and jumping all over the tiny strings – i swear I saw a sixth finger in there.

Even though one might worry about stare downs at a small show, one of the great things about watching a 3 piece band is that you’re not too overwhelmed with where to look – they’re all there in your periferal vision. And with Young Rival, each member commanded the stage in their own way, without ever overshadowing the others – even drummer Noah Fralick took vocal duties on their cover of Teenage Head’s “Let’s Shake”.

The band played songs off of their self-titled EP and LP (that you can grab here) that had the crowd singing along, but were able to sprinkle their performance with new songs they’ve been working on. Check out the video below for a sample of what we were treated to on Thursday night.


Wildlife and Young Rival were great bands to juxtapose each other in a live venue. Both offering music that my ears were dying to hear, but one bombarded my senses with 5 bodies slamming, screaming and sweating , while the other stepped back and let the music take centre stage.

Big Thanks to Wildlife and Young Rival for an amazing show and make sure to check out the night in photos by Jay Perry.

Happy Listening!