The Casbah 306 King Street West

We were long overdue for a little Casbah action! When hometown boys Young Rival announced their show, we knew we’d be there with bells on. Or, in this case, with buttons on! Did we mention we have buttons now? Somehow, Avi and I developed a spy theme for the night. We felt like spies on a covert mission, in our matching pink and black coloured outfits, leather jackets (which, by the way, we didn’t even plan on. We’re just cool like that) and Tour buttons. We were on duty, ready to rock. Operation: Young Rival. It was a weekend of Young Rival as we tag teamed it with Carly – she hit up their Kingston show the night before and it worked out well that we could divide and conquer across the two cities.

I know it had been a little while since my last Casbah show, but the main room looked different to me, and I couldn’t quite place what it was. Chatting with owner/promoter/beer connoisseur/band booker extraordinaire William (Brodie) Schwendiman, he pointed out that they just painted the ceiling black. A-ha! Maybe I should rethink my status as a spy if I fail to notice such a fairly obvious detail. Nevertheless, I like it – it adds to the intimate yet rock’n’roll feel of The Casbah. To further the spy motif, we spotted a couple of walkie talkies behind the bar, which got us thinking, those could come in useful as added accessories on tour stops.

With a packed venue, Hamilton band Magic Shadows opened up the show. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch but we thought the elusive, mystical band name worked with our spy theme. They certainly made their presence known as their sounds blasted through the space – loud, thumping, percussive, two drummers (who played while standing!) At one point, one of the drummers was drumming with one hand, and clutching a beer with the other. Didn’t miss a beat; total pro. We have a penchant for percussion instruments so we appreciated the added flair of the drums and tambourine.

Young Rival

Dinosaur Bones were next in the lineup. The Toronto band has been playing shows with Young Rival and you can tell the bands really enjoy each other’s music and company. We caught them play back-to-back at Supercrawl and it was great to see them together again. You could feel the love as the boys even dedicated a song to their friends in Young Rival. They also played a brand new track, “Criminal”. As we Tweeted during the show, we were diggin’ the Dinosaur Bones.

We chatted with the guys of Young Rival before they hit they stage and it was great to touch base with them again. We filled them in on what we’ve been up to and even got a few recommendations from them for our Breakfast Month. Then, with the classic multi-coloured Young Rival sign in place around Noah’s drums, it was time for them to hit the stage. They opened with a rip-roaring rendition of “Authentic,” which is one of my favourite tracks of theirs and made my Playlist for the month. They played a solid set of classic Young Rival tunes – “The Ocean” is always a hit, and another highlight for me was “Modern Life”. The crowd sang along with the “Ohhhh’s” in “Just Can’t Stay Here” – it was a sing-a-long, hand-clappin’ dance party. They also introduced some brand new tunes from their upcoming album, which I’m sure will produce even more hits. The audience ate them up!

Young Rival

I kept trying to think of how I would describe Young Rival’s sound. They’re pure rock’n’roll – they hammer out so much energy and such a loud sound as a three-piece. They have a real 60s throwback sound, with a modern edge. There is something so effortless about Aron’s vocals and stage presence, and he, John and Noah are so much fun to watch. They gave a heartfelt shout-out to Hamilton and you could really feel the love and pride they have for their hometown. We couldn’t agree more!

I know our Tour of the city just wouldn’t be complete without Young Rival. Not only are they one of the city’s finest, but they’re great guys and it’s always a pleasure when we get to interact with them. I’m sure we’ll see them again soon enough in our travels.

Mission: accomplished!

– Kristin

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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