Release shows are generally difficult propositions to pull off due to the expectations to create something genuinely memorable. Over the course of the summer, I’ve been fortunate enough to see a handful hit their mark (the release shows for both Sharkmuffin and PWR BTTM immediately spring to mind) but, in terms of scale, neither had anything on the intentional grandeur of the release party for Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders’ excellent Møtorcycle Yearbook. Of course, that’s probably to be expected when the identity of the band in question is thoroughly intertwined with its own mythology.
Leading up to the celebration at Baby’s All Right, the band had played a handful of shows that created, perpetuated, and existed within an additional thematic narrative (the previous show saw the enigmatic Ronnie Stone being banished from the stage and crawling into an open coffin, which was then closed and carried away through a somewhat shellshocked audience at Aviv). While the exit of the previous show was bold and engaging, the entrance of this one immediately set the tone for the kind of bombast that was set to follow. Kicking things off by literally driving a motorcycle into a venue is always a bold gambit but when the driver’s then hounded by a swarm of paparazzi through a crowd and into the green room? It goes beyond attention-getting and starts tipping towards an ourtright spectacle.
Here’s where Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders separate themselves from the rest of their ilk; a spectacle usually implies an inherent hollowness and lack of substance. While the band certainly isn’t without panache, they’re also a genuinely skilled band that pays an obscene amount of attention to their own machinations, injecting vibrant life into even the smallest functions while letting the memorable live show carry its weight. Furthering the considerable list of things working in the band’s favor are the songs themselves, each of which- while frequently tongue-in-cheek- have commentary to offer. Impressively, this commentary is tied into the worldview that’s contained in the band’s mythos and underscored by the seemingly tangential aspects of their show.
There’s an emphasis on community, togetherness, and timelessness that can be found in the music of Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders and those points were never driven home harder than they were on stage at Baby’s, where the band brought up a small army of collaborators, all in various guises that paid both respect and tribute to the band’s tantalizing vision. Extra musicians, guest vocalists, and backup dancers littered the late-night performance, each bringing a new trait to the table that operated as a perfect complement to the band’s music. Inevitably, this led to a few surprises throughout the course of the band’s set, with one particular highlight being an extremely fiery take on Cyndi Lauper’s “I’ll Kiss You” that whipped the sold-out audience into a frenzy.
Capitalizing on their own volatile energy and continuously pushing themselves throughout the night, it almost felt fitting to see Ronnie Stone vomit during the final song of the band’s set; everyone that stepped foot on that stage seemed committed to giving all they had and nothing was going to stop them from achieving that goal. For their part, the audience (most of which adhered to the band’s dress code policy) reciprocated the band’s excessive energy with both movement and adoration. It was difficult to not steal glimpses back at the crowd, which was a non-stop swirling mass of dancing bodies from the first song to the last notes.
People sang along, people danced, the band neared flawlessness, and everyone took a ride together, shedding the loneliness for at least a little while. It was the kind of trip that’s not likely to be forgotten anytime soon.
Watch two clips of the show and view an extensive photo gallery here.