In 2013, My Bloody Valentine reformed, recorded a new album, and went on tour. In 2014, Slowdive did the first and third of these, prompting me to joke that in 2015 it was Ride’s turn. And here we are.
Of these three shoegaze groups, Ride were the rock traditionalists; MBV and Slowdive were forerunners of post-rock, using guitars and pedals to make sounds free of form, at times experimental, ambient, and discordant. Ride, on the other hand, rejected the shoegazer moniker, were more likely to listen to the Nuggets box set–they’ve covered The Creation’s “How Does It Feel to Feel?”–and it’s no accident that after they broke up guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Andy Bell joined Oasis, albeit as a bassist.
And so on Thursday, September 17th, a rock show broke out at Washington, DC’s 930 Club. Ride opened with “Leave Them All Behind,” as close to a defining statement as they have. The band clearly wasn’t content to “play the hits,” as they were, busting out “Birdman,” live for the first time since 1995, as well as “Decay” and “Seagull,” both for the first time since 1991. “Twisterella” followed the first of these rarities, with Bell, doing his best guitar god impression and inexplicably clad in a Neu! trucker hat, turning the song into a southern boogie workout via his clean, single-note picking. “Black Nite Crash” and “Time of Her Time” similarly rocked, with the middle-aged crowd pogoing and bopping along. Mark Gardener, Ride’s other guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, broke up the group when Bell brought these songs to the studio, but he was all smiles this evening, harmonizing with his co-vocalist in the style of The Byrds. Meanwhile, Laurence Colbert dished out plenty of hi-hats and cymbal crashes and bassist Steve Queralt held down the low end.
Ride may still reject the shoegaze label, but delay, reverb, and other effects pedals were employed on many songs, including an extended freakout in the middle of “Taste,” while the vocals from Gardener and Bell were appropriately buried in the mix throughout. When Bell asked the crowd if this was their, our, first Ride show, many hands stayed down, and there was plenty of singing along during the concert. “Vapor Trail” was dedicated to us first-timers, Bell’s guitar and pedals mimicking the famous cello solo. The band closed with “Seagull,” sending the audience out into the night ears ringing, and thus ends the holy trinity of shoegaze reunions.