Unless you were just born with good taste, it’s likely that someone in your life turned you on to proper music. Perhaps it was a significant other, an older sibling, or a weird teacher. I owe that someone quite a debt of gratitude. My shy high school boyfriend didn’t just turn me on to good music, he turned me on to Ride.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard the mesmerizing opening riff of “Going Blank Again”. As those echoing notes washed over me at a 1992 Irving Plaza show, I felt as if I had entered a new world. And soon after I did. Ride was my gateway band to the world of Shoegaze and Britpop. But their influence reached beyond those immediate genres. Connecting with Ride taught me to appreciate a wide range of music that continues to grow to this day. But no matter how my musical tastes changed over the years, I never left Ride behind.
And so 23 years after that first gig, I joined the legions of Ride fans who have waited 20-odd years to experience them live once again. Here in New York, we’ve been lucky enough to see them twice this week; on Monday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a rather intimate venue, followed by Thursday at Terminal 5 in Manhattan, a much larger, decidedly less personal space. After Monday’s cozy, casual surroundings, I didn’t think a big venue could deliver an experience anywhere close. I’m happy to say that I was wrong!
Thanks to both Ride and their fans, there was a friendly, community-like energy in Terminal 5 well before anyone took the stage. I have to say, I rarely feel an energy that’s vaguely like that at NYC gigs. But Ride fans are, in fact, a community. We’ve been waiting for eons to see them again, and many of us have connected over social media in anticipation. We follow gigs the world over, and we share and connect over our formative Ride experiences. So when we finally get together, we already know and respect each other.
Finally, there they were again, those first evocative notes of “Going Blank Again”. From that first unforgettable riff to the stunning 3-song encore, the band was simply mesmerizing, the sound at the venue was fantastic (and loud! I resorted to industrial strength wax ear plugs, the foam variety was useless against “Drive Blind”’s vengeance) and the packed crowd’s energy was palpable. There was such a positive vibe that I pretty much forgot I was in New York.
Ride has always been a tremendously gifted live band, but 25 years later they have even more energy, enthusiasm and sophistication. And of course, more pedals. An eff-ton more.
The band has been incredibly generous with their time on this tour. Each New York show gave us about two hours of beautiful noise. Some of Thursday’s standouts included a gorgeous “Seagull”, a rocking “Black Night Crash”, a frenetic “Dreams Burn Down” and a dark and sexy “Drive Blind”. I was also pretty stoked to hear some Carnival of Light represented with “Natural Grace”.
But the encore was particularly special. In addition to a rousing “Mousetrap” and my personal favorite, “Chelsea Girl”, we got to sample Ride’s groovy rendition of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”, something I’ve only heard of in legend.
And if that weren’t enough, I was lucky enough to attend the after party, where I got to shoot a couple of casual portraits of the band hanging out. I had already met two of the band members on Monday, who are really just incredibly sweet people.
Fortunately, Ride is coming back to New York in the fall, where they’ll be playing Irving Plaza no less. Back to where it all started. Guess this bus is taking me back again.
Lauren Krohn is a photographer and nutritionist living in Brooklyn, NY. You can see more of her photography at www.laurenkrohn.com, follow her on Twitter @lkrohnnutrition and Instagram @lauren_a_krohn