Since their first 7" Watertown Plank captivated my senses in 1995, I have seen approximately 30 Promise Ring shows in 8 states, and sport a P Ring emblem in permanent ink on the back of my right arm. This goes without saying that I am a fan. Friday night's show (3/6/01) at the Metro in Chicago had to have been one of the most interesting of all my encounters with the 4 dudes from Milwaukee. They are in between albums previewing new material, and requested to open for Tahiti 80, rather than show off the new goods to die hard fans such as myself, and be forced to shatter some emo kid's dream of hearing East Texas Ave., or I Never Trusted The Russians.
For a band that who is known throughout the indie rock world for their pop presence, and enthusiastic hip shaking ditties, the Ring delivered the most down tempo set I have even seen. They came out firing with Happy Hour from their last Very Emergency album, a song they rarely play live that electrified the cold and runny nosed crowd. They then launched their most memorable gem Emergency! Emergency!, which the band made a video for that was played on MTV's 120 Minutes, and the Ring appeared to be on the slap happy rock roll that they are always on.
The first new song of the set came next, Moving Slow is that we are going to call it, a chance for Davey Von Bohlen to speak his poetic justice, rather than sing. The song was the first of 5 new songs to come. Why Did Ever We Meet brought things back to life, a single from their sophomore Nothing Feels Good album, and another sparkplug that the band recorded a video for. Another new song Sorry Again was the extremely upbeat, and was the perfect opportunity for guitarist Jason Gnewikow to use his new peddle, and delight the crowd with his wah wahs strums. Sun Will Shine eased out of the set next, another slow tempoed goodie, followed by two more tracks from the Very Emergency album ñ the explosive Living Around, and the sing along classic Happiness Is All The Rage.
A Promise Ring show would not be a Promise Ring show unless this scenario went down ñ kid shouts out "play Red Paint", Davey responds "Fuck YouÖYou play Red Paint", crowd laughs. The band announced that the last two song would again be newbies, and that they are in that awkward "in between" stage and like their new songs, and would just like to play them.
Business On The Telephone stood out amongst the rest as a rapid paced surge, reminiscent of Perfect Lines or Broken Tenor. Over the course of the show Daveyís voice began to get raspier by each song, but the singer who recently had a benign tumor removed from his brain looked very alive and well.
The final song was somewhat groundbreaking for a band who has been labeled Emo or Indie Rock their entire career. Wake Up April brought drummer Dan Didier over to the keyboards, and watched Jason Gnewikow leave the stage. Davey mentioned that they have never played the song live before, but believe you me this was the greatest pleasure of the night. Swimming in the land of Blur's Tender or Radiohead's How To Dissapear Completely. The melodic wave helped the crowd surf through the new sound that the Promise Ring will ride onto their new label ANTI (a division of Epitaph) which is seconds away from being etched in stone.
The Promise Ring are an amazingly talented band, who have plenty of bright things shinning in their future - I simply cannot say enough nice things about this band.
Source: Jason Anfinsen