Tuesday night, the crowd was filled with an odd combination of professional forty-somethings and spry, ambitious twenty-somethings, but everyone had something special in common — utter infatuation with a band. Specifically, the British shoegaze sensation Ride.
Although Ride haven’t released an album since Tarantula (1996), the band has reconvened for a solid American tour, as other shoegaze and rare 90s rock acts have done in recent years. After My Bloody Valentine, often considered to be the face of the shoegaze genre, released a new album (m b v) in early 2013, bands Slowdive, Swervedriver, and The Jesus and Mary Chain were quick to reunite and tour extensively, performing at various festivals along the way. Hell, even the experimental rock group Slint performed at Fuck Yeah Fest in Los Angeles last year. Without a doubt, 90s bands have been given an eager embrace over the past couple years.
The name shoegaze was derived from the performer-audience disconnect that was a common motif during live shows. At the Warfield Tuesday night, Ride completely abandoned this practice. Early in the set, with “Seagull,” the band offered a very compelling reason for why they were worthy of touring twenty years after releasing original work. Neither their individual technical skills nor their cohesive camaraderie had faded, and the washes of guitars, layered with insistent basslines and crashing drums, made for a surprisingly rich sound. “Seagull,” one of the highlights, roped in the audience for the rest of the 14-song set.
Playing mostly from Nowhere (1990) and Going Blank Again (1992), and briefly touching on Tarantula (1996), the band gave a strong, fervent set to its loyal fans. Towards the conclusion of the set, lead guitarist and singer Andy Bell (who, by the way, was the bassist of Oasis) mentioned, “This is probably the biggest US show we’ve done, so thank you.” Perhaps a little surprising was how easily the band slipped into a groove considering that controlling the attention of the room was no easy task. The band seemed to be used to concertizing in spaces as large as the Warfield.
Nearing the end of the set, Ride finally gave us “Vapour Trail,” which is far and away their most well known song. And as is indicative of any well done live set, the reception for it was only menially louder or more enthusiastic than those of its lesser known predecessors. It was clear that most of the room was quite familiar with the majority of Ride’s music, which in turn made the concert experience very special and is duly indicative of the band’s protracted success.
It is without a doubt that we say shoegaze is experiencing a rebirth. Whether or not this rebirth will be ephemeral, it’s safe to say that the music of this genre is fortunate to have its message and longevity recognized decades after its conception. Ride was undeniably captivating evidence of this fact.
Article and photos by Darius Kay