Ride @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn 6/1/15

I had a chance to see Ride last Friday, and I passed on it. I thought I’d probably have a chance to go to last night’s Music Hall Of Williamsburg show when I got back to New York, and Run The Jewels and Ride were a tough conflict to resolve, even though I’d seen RTJ about three times in the preceding year and Ride was another one of those artists that had been in my life a lot longer that I figured I’d never get the chance to see live. But I really thought I was going to go with Ride, right up until a few hours before their respective sets started on Friday. It was the second full day of Primavera, Friday in Barcelona, a festival — I don’t know, RTJ just seemed like they’d be more fun, and even as I enjoyed every minute of their set as much as I knew I would, it was hard not to feel a little guilt the next morning.

Sometimes things have a way of working out pretty well, though, because I did make it back to NYC and to last night’s Music Hall gig, and I’m now happy with the knowledge that RTJ is the exact sort of act you should see at a festival in Spain, and Ride is the exact sort of act you should see in a small club. I’m sure it would’ve been it’s own weird kind of experience seeing Ride on Friday instead — they were playing the titular main stage at Primavera, in the headlining slot that night, and it must’ve felt immense. But yesterday felt like cosmic alignment: a rainy, unseasonably chilly night in Brooklyn, and thanks to jetlag I felt like it was already the early hours of the morning when Ride were onstage. It all wound up feeling exactly right. This was the band I used to play in my high school’s art studio when I’d be there working until late at night; this was the band who wrote “Dreams Burn Down,” the song I’d drive around my hometown blaring, starting it over again and again just to hear that drumbeat and the guitars cascade down over it — one of my favorite beginnings to a song that I can think of.

Getting to see Ride in a small-ish room like Music Hall was some long-awaited-but-never-expected answer to those times all those years ago. Hearing waves of shoegaze guitars wash over the crowd at Primavera might’ve been something, too, if you were standing in the right place, but this was more my speed: hearing “Leave Them All Behind” and “Dreams Burn Down” fill a room to the point where it’d burst into some radiant array of abstracted blues and purples. For the duration, the band strayed from the more divisive material from their latter, more trad-rock albums; they crammed the set with all the favorites from Nowhere and Going Blank Again and their early EPs. The crowd — most of whom, at least around me, seemed to be British and of the age that they were fans of Ride during the band’s initial run — appreciated this. “Vapour Trail” and “Taste” and “Chelsea Girl” and the massive, squalling set-closer of “Drive Blind” all garnered fervent reactions.

The band seemed to be having a great time, too. Mark Gardener frequently thanked everyone, but it was Andy Bell who at one point cracked that the night was going by too fast and they should slow down to savor it. After the encore, as the rest of the band had already exited the stage, drummer Laurence Colbert stood up with his phone to take a photo of the crowd, pressed against the stage and still enthusiastically screaming. As with all reunion shows, there’s a weird undercurrent to it — it’s what we all wanted, but all material from the band’s first few years of existence (given, with Ride, there were only a few more years after that anyway). But it’s cool to see them up there seemingly so into doing this stuff, a few years well into the time where shoegaze has become one of those beloved, resurrected genres poised for new exploration. I left wondering if they’d work on something new — an album that some other high school kid might grow up to.

Tags: Ride