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Listening

Ride, Nowhere

shoegazing (n): to stare at one’s shoes, typically while (whilst) playing loud, effects-laden guitar pop; coined to describe the stage presence of early-’90s British band Chapterhouse, whose tendency to stare at their feet instead of the audience was for some reason notable.

Ride never really stared at their shoes (proving that the downward glance wasn’t a prerequisite for categorization), but they pretty much epitomized ‘shoegazer.’ They were one of the best of the bunch, and that was out of a pretty huge bunch, many of whom also sported one-syllable band names.

And it’s Nowhere that best exhibits just why Ride were such a powerful force in so many people’s lives. It’s simply a brilliant record, from beginning to end. No further description necessary. Instead, a weird story.

I saw Ride play at a heavy-metal club in Austin, Texas, in the summer of 1992. Fantastic show. Not many people there, either. Despite Ride being huge in the U.K. at the time, they were still (and, really, still are) virtually unknown in the U.S. Shoegazing wasn’t even showing up on the U.S. radar, saturated as our market was in grunge. Thus, the club was empty, except for me, my girlfriend, a few other friends, fifteen or twenty people who looked like us, and about thirty heavy-metal fans, who were there mainly to get drunk and play pool. They were, suffice it to say, hardly interested in Ride or their neo-psychedelic noise pop.

And it was during their performance of ‘Vapour Trail,’ one of Ride’s finest – and most acclaimed – songs that a heavy-metal guy decided to join the festivities. Well, two heavy-metal guys. Who began moshing at the front of the stage. One, however, slipped and went head over tail, accidentally kicking my girlfriend in the side of the head. During her favorite song.

I walked her over to the bar, her still trying to watch the band perform the song, but now from way at the back of the club. She had an icepack (thoughtfully presented to us by the bartender) pressed to the side of her face. We drank Cokes and watched our favorite band perform our favorite songs.

And they played every single track off Nowhere, just like we all hoped they would.

biopic

Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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