Ride & DIIV @ College Street Music Hall, New Haven

It’s not that I am naive, not in the slightest, but I will admit to being a bit too uncritical at times. I think it stems from my short lived life as a practicing artist where everyone was so bitter and critical of everything and anything that it made me realize how unproductive that mode of thinking can be. So the lead in for this review comes from my reading of some comments about Ride’s recent show at Irving Plaza in New York City. The comment that struck me most read:

You can post as many photos of Ride as you like. They’re still not an important band.

Posted by Anonymous | September 23, 2015 2:35 PM

My first thought was one of mild confusion, “What the hell does that even mean?” I thought to myself. “What is an important band?” I then recalled the philosophical principle of  “burden of proof” from my Philosophy 101 class, thinking to myself, “hmm if someone is so compelled to suggest a band is unimportant, doesn’t that mean they are trying to refute their actual importance?” Ah fuck it! I am writing this review, with as critical a voice as I can muster, regardless of whether you think Ride is an “important” band or not, because put simply they fucking rocked on September 18th in New Haven, CT.

Opening the evening was a band I was eager to hear live, DIIV (pronounce “Dive” in case you’re among the indie elite you’ll want to make sure you don’t say “div”!). I enjoyed their debut 2012 album “Oshin” (pronounced “Oshin”) if not for their overt nod to the genre that Ride helped define; shoegaze. Front man and founder Zach Smith (Beach Fossils) led the parade of echoes and reverberations supported by his friend and fellow Nutmegger (from CT) Andrew Bailey on guitar, bassist and 4chan hater of Meredith Graves Devin Ruben Perez, keyboardist & guitarist Colin Caulfield, and drummer Ben Newman.

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Overall, DIIV were solid, playing a range of songs from their first album, their recently released and very poorly titled Is the Is Are as well as some unreleased tracks. My only real critique was their overuse of reverb. Some songs quickly became so muddied and muffled that the sounds the audience were hearing felt entirely disconnected from what we were watching on stage. Thankfully this was most apparent when Smith was addressing the crowd between songs rather than during the songs themselves, though that did occasionally occur.

Ride played the 9:30 Club in D.C. the night before to kick off their 2015 World Tour and you would never have known tonight was but their 2nd show in North America in over 20 years! I rode the car park elevator with an older couple who raved that they (Ride) were even better than they were when they saw them in the early 90’s. Regardless of the history, I will say Andy Bell and Mark Gardener and company performed songs from Ride’s entire catalog with grit, grace, and precision. While shoegazers can often get lumped into the wall of noise category, Ride has always been the outlier in that their sound was a bit more polished and poppy than their counterparts (My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, etc.). Taking the stage in almost complete darkness to a prerecorded soundtrack, the applause swelled as the 4 silhouettes moved across the stage and assumed their positions. As the soundtrack faded slowly into the opening synth loop of “Leave Them All Behind”, the foursome from Oxford, England were illuminated as drummer Loz Colbert dropped in the iconic opening beat.

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Aside from a few songs in the middle of their set, which ran together and sounded a bit too similar, Ride mixed in a variety of tracks from all of their full-length albums, including the often overlooked Tarantula, which was panned and almost immediately removed from the Creations Records catalog. Still the aging rockers from Oxford sounded as youthful as ever and appeared to really be enjoying themselves. They finished their set with fan favorites “Taste”, “Vapour Trail”, and “Drive Blind” (video below) only to encore three more, “In a Different Place”, “Mouse Trap”, and ending with “Chelsea Girl”.

Perhaps Ride aren’t “important” in the grand scheme of things, but I would argue endlessly that if you’re a fan, it’s critically important to go see them while you still have the chance, you won’t be disappointed!

Drive Blind

Setlist:
Leave Them All Behind
Like a Daydream
Polar Bear
Seagull
Twisterella
Birdman
Decay
OX4
Chrome Waves
Today
Black Nite Crash
Time of Her Time
Dreams Burn Down
Taste
Vapour Trail
Drive Blind
Encore:
In a Different Place
Mouse Trap
Chelsea Girl

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