The Promise Ring played a midnight show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago on Saturday night, celebrating singer Davey von Bohlen's twenty-sixth birthday and showcasing some fantastic new material. The Ring's last release was the four song Electric Pink EP which was delivered in the middle of 2000, consisting of some B-sides from their last full length, Very Emergency. Needless to say, the Milwaukee dudes are due to deliver a new record, and from what they previewed on Saturday night, they are stepping it up for some next level shit.
Only the booking agent for the Empty Bottle knows the names of the other bands that also played, as I was totally not interested or concerned. Davey and Jason Gnewikow (guitar) took the stage shortly after midnight for the sold out, smoky show and the crowd, who had been drinking since the doors opened at 9, met them with great fervor. They played a slow soliloquy, which according to the set list, was titled "Feed," and led to some head scratching from the audience, who were eagerly anticipating the rock out dance numbers. Dan Didier (drums) and Scott Schoenbeck (bass) walked on stage at the tail end of the song, got into position, and ripped into a smashing version of Very Emergency's "Jersey Shore." "Happiness Is All The Rage" was next, and any fan could tell that these cats have been rehearsing vigorously in their attempts to capture the perfect songs for the upcoming record.
A new joint was sparked nex,t titled "My Life," a reflection of the dramatic experience that Davey went through after a tumor was removed from his brain last year. He is currently doing great, and sounded better than ever on Saturday night, but still needs to complete one more surgery later this year. The last time I saw the fellas was when they opened for Tahiti 80 a couple of months ago and Davey didn't seem like his normal self. At the Empty Bottle, though, he was dancing, singing full blast and with 100% force, and he also made time to entertain a few drunken hecklers throughout the evening.
My favorite track from the Very Emergency album, "Deep South," was next, followed by "Tell Everyone We're Dead," which can be found on the Boys + Girls EP. That song alludes to the eerie van accident that the kids had a few years back, when their van slid off an icy road and crashed. These stories are all true; Promise Ring are like the Mankind / Evil Knevil / Jackie Chan of the rock and roll world.
A gorgeous new delight called "Wake Up April" was next, which brought Dan from the drum kit to the electric keyboard, where he sat alongside the newest member of the band, P.J., who also sings for the band Camden. "Wake Up April" is laced with this hypnotic drum loop, with Jason playing a keyboard/flute type thing, and the song is simply a dream. We heard this song the first time they ever played it live at the Tahiti 80 show a while back, and now they have mastered it. It's a keeper.
The sedate mood of the previous number made for a nifty segue into "Nothing Feels Good," which then kickstarted into the band's last single, "Why Did Ever We Meet." "Living Around" dropped a bomb on the audience next, who were loving every minute of the lengthy set. One drunk fan screamed out "Fucking shit piano man" which sounds like the name of a death metal band from Tampa, and was apparently all that this Pabst Blue Ribbon flooded rocker could utter (who had a Ghostbusters tattoo, by the way).
The final new song in the set was "Stop Guitar," which consisted of lyrics like "if I had a dime for every time I wanted to put my guitar down and pick back a book, my guitar would be dusty", along with some "yeah yeah yeah"s.
Drinks were served for "Happy Hour," followed by the crowd favorite "Emergency Emergency," and the set wrapped nicely with the final number on Very Emergency, "All Of My Everything."
The Promise Ring hope to release a new album in the Spring of 2002 on the Epitaph distributed ANTI label. The band will be recording with some heavy hitters in the upcoming months, attempting to broaden their sound and get this solid music to a wider audience. Mario C. and Stephen Street are a couple of interested parties who want to work with these talented gents, whose music is as powerful as any sedative I have ever ingested. Check out all of their releases on the Jade Tree label, as well as the lovely Vermont band which is made up of Davey and Dan. HELLO WISCONSIN!
The set list was as follows:
Happiness Is All The Rage
Tell Everyone That We're Dead
Wake Up April
Nothing Feels Good
Why Did Ever We Meet
All Of My Everything
Source: Jason Anfinsen