Photos by Owen Maxwell/Ottawa Showbox
Few bands manage to evolve so completely album to album, but Hamilton’s Young Rival seems to have not only become a killer band on record, but live too. Playing to an entranced crowd at House Of Targ on January 29th with openers Ornaments and Lost Cousins, the band showed how much talent small town Canada still has.
The night opened with Ottawa’s own Ornaments playing the loudest set of the night, distortion maxed and game-faces ready. Despite microphone issues, their set kept heads banging constantly, mixing punk and heavy rock in their uniquely energetic blend. The band wrapped up their set playing an explosive cover of Iggy Pop’s “Loose” before ending on their oldest track which they closed with guitar-headbutting antics to get every last note out of their instruments.
Kingston’s Lost Cousins took the stage next, adding pop and sax to the mix. Their refreshingly bass-driven indie rock kept the crowd grooving along the entire set, driving them crazy any time the saxophone came out to play. The opening sax lick to “Strange Dreams” had the crowd shouting and the set peaked when the band harmonized on one riff, getting synchronized “woos” from the crowd on every pause.
There was an immediate feeling when Young Rival hit the stage that they were the band in charge. Showing up in matching gold sequin suits, on a stage covered in flowers and glowing signs of their name, the set was a step up from the great openers that preceded them. Kicking things off with the album opener “Carry The Weight” the band launched into their set with high energy. Things got groovy for the next few songs with the crowd singing along to “Bent Out of Shape” and joining harmonies on “Let’s Get Together.”
Stopping to talk about their latest single “Scruples,” the band revealed that Scruples is a real guy from back in Hamilton. Despite this pause, the band ripped through the track with relentless energy. They then changed things up playing old tracks “Black Is Good” to loud chants and the jovial feeling of “Two Reasons.” Things got romantic during the band’s vintage sounding “That’s Chemistry” with the crowd matching the band word for word, while some couples even turned and sang to each other in the audience.
The band went into the killer finale to their set, with the euphoric ending to “Where’s It All Going,” the sombre feelings of “Living Like You Should” and “Throw It In The River.” Then the electric excitement of their surprise new track “Lucky” took over, building the anticipation for their next release to a fever pitch. The bass took over as the band played “Interior Light” and the crowd added harmonies. The set wrapped on the unbridled energy of “Elevator” as the both the band and the crowd finally shook loose and danced themselves silly along the packed dance floor. Young Rival proved effortlessly why they’ve come so far and should be the Canadian band to watch in 2016.