The Promise Ring Reunion at the Metro, 2/25/12: Recap and Setlist

promise-ring-reunion.jpg
Michael Dauphin
The Promise Ring, not phoning it in.
Throughout the late '90s and early '00s, Milwaukee's the Promise Ring harnessed about as much buzz as any indie band trudging through the underground. Even so, one could argue that the band was, and still is, underrated. Or, if nothing else, it became a victim of its own press. The "emo pioneer" tag more than likely scared some folks away, but you wouldn't have known any better if you were at the sold out Metro in Chicago on Saturday night. Aging hipsters, pop purists and younger folks who missed the band its first time around crowded the building, buzzing almost as hard as the band itself during the Y2K days.

An obvious question to consider going into the show was whether the band would favor its late-era, spacious pop-bliss or wail through the disjointed-yet-infectious ruckus it leaned on during the early days. To the delight of everyone, the band managed to strike the perfect balance between the two -- relying most heavily on its mid-career albums Nothing Feels Good (1997) and Very Emergency (1999).

Having been, for all practical purposes, inactive since 2002, the band seemed as excited as the 1100+ in the building. Singer Davey von Bohlen was equal parts humbled and elated. "I don't even know how to relate anymore," he quipped between songs, as fans peppered him with requests. Fortunately, years later, von Bohlen's songs haven't ceased to relate.

Call it a cash grab, call it a stroke of nostalgia, or call it whatever you want. But you cannot knock the band for phoning it in. Drummer Dan Didier fevered through propulsive blasts -- keeping the band on point throughout the night. Jason Gnewikow noodled skronky guitar riffage, while von Bohlen wailed, moaned bobbed around almost every inch of the stage. The Promise Ring may have been gone for the past decade, but the songs still managed to hit as close to the heart as ever.

Setlist

Size of Your Life
Happiness Is All the Rage
Emergency! Emergency!
Jersey Shore
E. Texas Ave.
Is This Thing On?
Perfect Lines
B is For Bethlehem
Wood/Water
Skips a Beat (Over You)
The Deep South
Stop Playing Guitar
Red & Blue Jeans
Make Me a Mixtape
A Picture Postcard
?
Tell Everyone We're Dead
My Life is at Home
Get On the Floor
Feed the Night
Why Did We Ever Meet
Red Paint
Everywhere in Denver
Forget Me

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3 comments
sanbasl
sanbasl

yeah, sound was a little off, but really no complaints here. fantastic show, and great to see these boys again. check out my review here: http://bit.ly/yTrclh

mar
mar

It was a good show. The sound was off, but I thought their apparent excitement and the fun they were having made it awesome, and even if it was a cash grab, it was done in good spirits.

Michael
Michael

Mar - Agreed. Guitars could've been louder. I heard Von Bohlen was having voice issues the night before so maybe that's why the guitars were low.

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