Live Review: Ride with DIIV at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 17th September 2015

By on Monday, 21st September 2015 at 2:00 pm

Since the announcement last November 2014 these Oxford shoegaze legends were reforming, they’ve been on quite a (wait for it) Ride. They’ve just announced last week the upcoming release of ‘Nowhere25’, a new CD and DVD on the 6th of November to nicely dovetail with the final third of their North American dates. I’ve always been fond of their sound, if not a massive fan, but something changed when I heard them doing their first radio performance in years at Maida Vale for BBC 6 Music back in June and being interviewed by Steve Lamacq, and ahead of this show in DC, their first date on a 2-month campaign of our continent, I was getting very excited. Having never seen them play before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When the lights dimmed for their headline set, an extended, serious-sounding instrumental seemed to suggest the imminent arrival of Darth Vader or one of the Jurassic Park dinosaurs to the stage. But before I get ahead of myself, let me speak a bit about the opening act first.

Leader Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV (pronounced ‘dive’) explained that they were from “New Bork City” and said “s’anks” (I guess his silly version of “thanks”) several times during their band’s set. While with his long blonde hair and guitar stance, Smith might easily be mistaken for Kurt Cobain, his getup for the gig Thursday night definitely would have thrown you off: an oversized shirt, hippie pantaloons and a sun hat more appropriate for the Kalahari Desert was atop his head, unlike his bandmates who were all wearing baseball caps. (Eventually he removed his hat, I guess he got overheated.) The young upstarts’ inclusion on Ride’s tour made many scratch their heads, I’m sure.

DIIV performing live at 9:30 Club, Washington DC

The extended, jammy style of their songs, however, seemed to fit well with Ride’s oeuvre. DIIV’s older songs such as ‘Ocean’ and ‘Wasted Breath’ drew enthusiastic cheers from their young fans in the crowd. However, it became quickly evident by the number of new songs that Smith introduced, including ‘Loose Ends’ and ‘Douse’, that they were smartly using this fortuitous North American support slot to road test new material ahead of the release of their hotly anticipated second album ‘ Is the Is Are’, the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Oshin’. I have to be honest, after a while, all the songs sort of melted into one another to me and were indistinguishable, though the guitars sounded pretty killer. Or maybe that’s the whole point?

Despite the pretentiousness of their walk-on music, Ride wiped away any doubts of their musicianship and on the sincerity of their reuniting by speedily launching into their first number, ‘Leave Them All Behind’ from their 1992 Creation album ‘Going Blank Again’. It was as if the last 20 years had never happened. Surrounded by men of varying ages swaying or headbanging in time to the music, mostly in cargo shorts or the occasional jeans, it was a strange place to find myself in but was oddly comforting too. If I needed a kick in the arse to revisit the British rock in the ’90s, this show was just about as good as any: the guitars were on point, loud and unyielding except to the underlying song melodies, and after the kind of awful summer I’ve been having, they jolted me back to life, firing up my senses as I’m sure everyone else in the 9:30 felt that night.

Ride performing live at 9:30 Club, Washington DC 1

One of my friends saw The Jesus and Mary Chain last year and had warned me that they were a boring band live, and I was concerned that Ride could very well be the same. Not at all. I was sure from the moment main lead singer Mark Gardener said the words, “Washington, it’s been a long time,” followed by the audience’s massive response in cheers and applause that they were going to be totally different, and they were, so energetic and feeding off the energy of punters who had waited over 2 decades to see their favourite band again. Part of this I’m sure was due to drummer Laurence “Loz” Colbert’s late arrival; apparently he had arrived at the club 30 minutes before showtime and for a while, the other band members were concerned that they would have to cancel the show, unable to go on without him.

For the occasion, they trotted out ‘Birdman’ and ‘Decay’, which haven’t been played live since 1995 and 1991, respectively, dedicating the latter to some friends they had in the audience. As you might imagine, some Ride fans in attendance went absolutely mental hearing these songs they thought they might never hear again live. For me, it was ‘Like a Daydream’, ‘Cool Your Boots’ and ‘Twisterella’ that hit the spot, the intricate lead guitar work by Andy Bell on ‘Twisterella’ a special treat to finally witness live. However you feel about their back catalogue, if you want a rock ‘n’ roll primer from some legends still kicking in the business, you won’t go wrong with buying a ticket to this tour.

Ride performing live at 9:30 Club, Washington DC 2

After the cut: Ride’s set list.

Ride’s Set List:
Leave Them All Behind
Like a Daydream
Polar Bear
Chrome Waves
Cool Your Boots
In a Different Place
Black Nite Crash
Time of Her Time
Dreams Burn Down
Vapour Trail
Drive Blind

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[…] well, flying down the street. Ride, who had not played in North America for a very long time, had a great show at the 9:30 Club in September. Having heard that their ’90s contemporaries Jesus and the Mary Chain were complete bores, I […]

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