Concert Review: Young Rival and Born Ruffians

December 2, 2015: The Loving Touch, Ferndale

I’ve been a Born Ruffian since I first heard “Little Garçon” off their album Red, Yellow & Blue back around 2008 but it wasn’t until the release of their 2013 album, Birthmarks, that Born Ruffians really sank their hooks into me. I listened to the album non-stop and still find myself revisiting it at least once a month so when I heard they’d be in town, I immediately scooped up a ticket and waited anxiously for the day to finally arrive.

The venue was minimally filled when opening act, Young Rival, took the stage. The lights went out and a person clad in a disco ball like fabric stood on the stage moving and reflecting light until the guys finally came out onto the stage in similar styled disco ball jackets. It may have been snowing outside but The Loving Touch was filled with warm, beachy vibes from the Hamilton, Ontario trio. Their garage / 60’s rock sound was a perfect way to warm up after standing out in the cold and their high energy stage antics had the crowd moving.

The stage at The Loving Touch is a small one but singer Aron D’Alesio and bassist John Smith used every inch of it to completely rock out. Young Rival’s sound has a Strokes like quality to it at times, specifically the title track off their brand new album, Interior Light while tracks like “Elevator” have a more 60’s rock sound that airs on the experimental side. I hadn’t checked the band out before the concert but their engaging live show had me coming home and taking their new album for a spin. I have to say, I’m a little disappointed in myself for not being aware of these guys sooner.

Born Ruffians is one of those bands that has the ability to instantly boost my mood and I found my anticipation building exponentially as I waited for them to take the stage. The joy I felt as soon as the guys came out, jumping right into “Kurt Vonnegut” is hard to express with words but it felt like my mood had sky rocketed and I had rainbows of happiness shooting out of my eyes and ears. The venue was a non-stop dance party which only made the experience that much better. I had a great spot right in front of guitarist / keyboardist Andy Lloyd which gave me a perfect view of singer Luke Lalonde and bassist Mitch Derosier as they used the little stage space they had to completely rock out and give us a memorable show.

Just seeing the guys live was enough to make my week a little brighter but having a setlist packed to the brim with favorite tracks made the night so much more memorable. The guys jumped from “Kurt Vonnegut” into “Ocean’s Deep” which is one of favorite songs off of Birthmarks. The Midland, Ontario foursome filled the venue with warm rock sounds that made us all forget that winter had finally started raging away outside earlier that day. I had only given their new album, Ruff, a passing listen so I didn’t know the lyrics to the new songs but hearing them live was just the kick in the butt I needed to get things together and give the album a real listen. I always love getting to hear new music live before giving an album a spin because the odds of a track becoming a quick favorite are always much higher.

I have to say that seeing Born Ruffians live was probably one of the best concert experiences I’ve had this year, helped, of course, by finding a new band to worship in Young Rival. I can’t wait for the guys to come back into town so I can stand front and center and let their energetic music that makes me feel like I’m floating on cloud nine wash over me again.