The Promise Ring
Brodie’s Warehouse, Orlando • 3.25.98
Jason Gnewikow likes football. It might not be a very punk rock (or alternative or modern rock or, perhaps most appropriately, emo) thing to proclaim but I’m not going to criticize him for it. I could care less, as long as he and his bandmates, Daniel J. Didier and Davey von Bohlen, continue to write and record such great music. Oh, yeah. They also have to bring themselves back to Orlando for the occasional live show.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Promise Ring, all I can do is suggest you seek out their 1996 debut, 30degrees Everywhere, and both of its 1997 successors, The Horse Latitudes and Nothing Feels Good. I suppose you’d be inclined to throw them under the emo umbrella, but it might be wise to realize they’re sort of like the “feel good” band of that ever-expanding genre. Usually light and often danceable is their music. Their lyrics tend to be oddly poetic and sweetly surreal. Easily-distinguished are they from their contemporaries.
The local hardcore crowd recently had the opportunity to hear and see the Promise Ring live at Brodie’s (now defunct) Warehouse. In concert, this band is truly something to marvel. They play very well together. Very tight. Precise. It becomes quite clear that each member is extremely talented and an integral part of their trademark sound. Performed were selections from all three of their releases. Included, of course, in their set was the song that seems to have become their anthem, “A Picture Postcard,” as well as the curiously-contagious “Is This Thing On?”
Shortly before their Orlando appearance, the entire band was involved in a serious accident. Their van flipped on an icy road and, in the process, emptied itself of its every passenger. Everyone was hospitalized but fortunately recovered and managed to continue the tour. At the end of their Brodie’s show, some jerk in the audience attempted to make a joke of what could’ve been much more serious, even fatal. This dolt instantly received recognition from Jason Gnewikow in the form of a very verbal and intense yet rational reminder of how mortal we all are and how thoughtful we should all be of one another. Afterwards, Jason announced their set was supposed to be over, but one more song, “Red Paint,” would be performed so the evening could close without anger.
Incidentally, a benefit fund was begun by Shelly Gnewikow, Jason’s sister, to help with the medical bills and equipment replacement. If you’re interested and able to assist, you can e-mail Shelly (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re one of those lost souls who has managed to remain out of the electric mail loop, you can inadvertently help keep your friendly neighborhood postal worker employed by writing the band directly at The Promise Ring, P.O. Box 93511, Milwaukee, WI, 53203.
The Promise Ring will hopefully continue to bounce back and prosper. I know I’m not the only one looking forward to future releases and tours.