Young Rival Part I Frustrations with the Canadian music scene

 Young Rival In Toronto By: Acey Rowe
November 23, 2009

Hamilton’s Young Rival played to a disappointingly small crowd last week, despite both their critical success and online popularity. Unspecific to this band, worry over declining audience attendance is something many Canadian musicians are currently expressing.

Online music sources such as MySpace, Podcasts and downloadable sessions, originally intended as marketing techniques, now seem to be the preferred form of intake for audiences.
  “Someone might say ‘Oh, I heard you guys on CBC Radio 3,’ but then we’ll be playing a show that night to very few people. It doesn’t seem to translate,” said drummer Noah Fralick. “There could be thousands of people listening to our sessions at home and enjoying themselves, but they might not be at shows.”

“What’s going on in terms of people actually going to live shows?” interjects vocalist Aron D’Alesio, a thought continued by bassist John Smith, “We might be famous in iTunes right now, but we just don’t know it.”

The frustration over low attendance would perhaps be less extreme if it weren’t for the difficulties that come with touring Canada.

“The major issue of touring Canada and being successful here is there are so many tiny little markets. It’s a huge country and you spend so much time and money going from one place to another,” D’Alesio said.   Young Rival Live

Other explanations for low audience attendance have been found in the Canadian confusion over our musical identity. Many Canadian bands have only found success after leaving the home market. Acts such as The Arcade Fire and Crystal Castles only gained audiences here after touring the UK and the States, yet mainstream Canadian radio play is still nearly impossible to come by.

“A band needs to go somewhere else and be confirmed by another culture for Canadians to believe that what they have in their own back yard is worth listening to,” says D’alesio. “We love Canada, but there’s not a band that would deny how much getting success outside of Canada helps your success here.”

Further perplexing the situation is the simple fact that Young Rival puts on an exceptional show, and their self-titled EP has been at the top of my own playlist for the past two weeks.

For more information on Young Rival, check out

Photos courtesy of:  Ryan Szulc and Philip Zuzarte

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