The Ascot Royals
The Casbah 306 King Street West

It’d been a while since we had seen The Ascot Royals play, the last time being far before the Tour even started! I remember it well. It was February 2011 and Carly, Kristin and I found ourselves at the Casbah Lounge on a cold winter’s night dancing along to the Ascot’s infectious dance rock beats. This Brantford-based band certainly know how to rock a show and Kristin and I were looking forward to seeing them play again, knowing also that the next time we’d be seeing them play would be at our very own Playlist 1.0. And judging by the turnout at this show, this is a band certainly not to be missed.

I arrived at the Casbah after Kristin and we sat at a table (one with those high stools) catching up on all things Tour related, excitedly talking about the fundraiser and stoked to see The Ascot Royals play. We found ourselves looking at the beer taps on the ceiling, which we’d only really noticed at the Dan Griffin show a few weeks prior. Too funny.

The Ascot Royals

Juliana Riolino (the band is now called The Red Birds) opened the show with some folk acoustic tunes. Admittedly, Kristin and I weren’t sure who would be starting off the night and had never heard Julianna’s music, so we were in awe when she began singing. She seemed so unassuming as she took to the mic with her guitar, adjusting the mic and her guitar strap before she began strumming and singing along. Julianna’s got a lovely, warm voice that was showcased throughout her set. She played a few songs on her own before being joined by her band who provided just the right amount of instrumentation to balance out her beautiful vocals. Gosh, she’s got a fantastic vocal range and was so at ease performing. Be sure to take a listen to her song “Sunset Song”.

Funny enough, I only realized a few days after this show that I had in fact heard some of her music thanks to my brother Deven! And to make things even seem more “small world-esque,” The Dirty Nil (who my brother’s known for ages) were at The Casbah that night! A band Kristin had yet to meet and one whom we were wanting to see perform, we hoped to meet up with them. There was some tweeting back and forth and unfortunately, we kept missing each other. Thankfully, we’ve heard they’ll be making an appearance at The Playlist 1.0, of course to support their frenemies (they have a Twitter feud going) New Hands.

Then it was time for the Toronto’s The Archives to take the floor. Again, this is yet another band with a dynamic sound to them. Their set was filled with driving, rhythmic guitar, melodic hooks and fantastic vocals all coming together to create a neat, experimental rock sound, as evidenced in their song “Sheeps Clothing.”

Following their set was Secret Broadcast. Hailing from Calgary and based in Toronto, this indie rock band fit in nicely with the night’s musical lineup and also with the Tour’s collective musical taste. Oh and also with our “spy” theme (we’ve had the idea of walkie-talkies which fits well with the band’s name). From the rockin’ guitar, to chanting worthy choruses and “ohs” and a bit of tambourine in songs like “Neon Light” and “Raygun,” this is a band with a cool sound and one I could see the whole group of us dancing along to. Be sure to check out their EP which was released on May 22nd!

Last but not least, The Ascot Royals took to the stage with an impressive set that had Kristin and I so, so excited for The Playlist 1.0. Their sound has certainly evolved and changed since we last saw them, though we should still hear strains of familiarity, whether it be in Jimmy’s vocals or the amazing beats (BEATS!) courtesy of drummer Sam Stark and Ben Chauveau on synths that had everyone dancing away.

The Ascot Royals

One thing I love about these guys is their energy! Watching them perform, each of them so into the music, the groove, and watching Jimmy holding the mic tightly and dancing around (at one point he jumped up on top of the bass drum and stood there belting his heart out) is something to be admired and appreciated. These guys definitely put their heart and soul into their songs and live performances and their energy certainly bounced off the audience, amplifying the whole room (check out the video below). The Ascots played a mix of older and newer tunes, including newer songs like “Think You’re Better” (listen to the chorus, the vocals and harmonies are fantastic), “Stray” and “Do It All Again” (which had got such a rhythmic bassline and driving drumline) and soon enough, everyone was on their feet taking in the dance rock beats of this fantastic band. They all looked like they were having so much fun and it brought a smile to my face, as I imagined what it would be like to see them at our fundraiser.

Speaking of which, we are excited that The Ascot Royals will be performing at our fundraiser, Playlist 1.0, Saturday, July 28th!

xoxo Avishka

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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