The Promise Ring
with Jimmy Eat World
Brodie’s Warehouse, Orlando • 3.25.98
If I were put on the spot, I would definitely go on record as being pro-heckling. It’s a great catalyst for band/audience interplay. When everyone takes part in fun, it can add a special element to a show. There are times, however, when heckling can go drastically wrong, and turn into really biting personal attacks. The March 25th Promise Ring/Jimmy Eat World show at Brodie’s Warehouse in Orlando was one of those nights where a comment made from the crowd in extremely poor taste had a major effect on how we all will remember that show. But more on that later.
In the days leading up to the show, there were some grumblings about the fact that only the Promise Ring and Jimmy Eat World were playing, and that someone’s publicist demanded no locals on the bill, etc, etc, etc. Personally, I’m glad that was the case for this show. Brodie’s is historically a bad-sounding room, and this night was no exception (it is, of course, a warehouse). The Promise Ring always draws a good crowd, so it was really hot (Brodie’s lacks air conditioning, too). Two bands of heat and bad sound sounds like a better deal than the usual 3 or 4. We’ve all seen Peterbuilt plenty of times, anyway. Skipping them for one night isn’t going to hurt. Yeah, the door price was 6 bucks, which might be a dollar too high, but this show was originally planned for the Sapphire Supper Club.
So anyway; it’s hot, it’s crowded, and the sound sucks. Jimmy Eat World from Arizona played first. JEW plays rocking emo without the whine or cheese. This is the third time I’d seen them, and they get better every time. They hold the distinction of “the best band on a major label (Capitol) that gets no help whatsoever from said label.” They’ve been left out to dry by Capitol, but manage to keep going. Their last record, Static Prevails, is quite good. They played a few songs off that record, but the bulk of the set was made up of songs from their splits with Christie Front Drive and Jejune, as well as newer material that should be out on the new album in a few months.
Wisconsin’s The Promise Ring, “emo’s greatest crossover hopeful,” was next. Their last record, Nothing Feels Good, was possibly the best record of 1997, and they’ve been riding some pretty substantial hype for a while now. They do back it up, and usually put on a good show. In the live setting, singer Davey Von Bohlen usually can’t pull off vocally what he does on the new record, but the band more than makes up for it with witty banter and an easygoing stage presence. The last few times I’ve seen them, they’ve either not played well or had to overcome bad PA’s, but their attitude and sense of humor has saved the day. They usually play along with the token hecklers and have a good time with it. That was the case here, too, until someone yelled something to the effect of “Go roll your van again you fucking Cheeseheads.” Now, if you haven’t been following them, they were in a very SERIOUS van wreck outside of Omaha earlier this year. Most of them were thrown from the vehicle and the van was totaled, yet they all walked away from the wreck. The outcome could have easily been much worse. Obviously, they took offense to the heckler’s comments. After taking a few minutes to sternly “inform” him of the severity of their accident, they launched into the fastest, most pissed-off version of “Red Paint” you’ll ever hear. They finished their set a few songs later, but the heckling incident definitely had an effect on the rest of the show.
Of course, the heckler didn’t mean any harm by the comment. I know because he came to the show with me, and I spent too much of the drive home yelling at him for saying it. He was just trying to be funny. As someone who spent the latter half of 1997 in a van, I know that there are very real hazards to being on tour. It’s not funny. It’s a reality that every drive can end very badly. The Promise Ring were very lucky; other bands haven’t been. There are countless bands criss-crossing the nations everyday in beat-up old vans that don’t want to think about that patch of ice or blown-out tire that could bring things to a very quick full stop, but I guarantee you it’s in the back of their minds somewhere. I know it was in mine. I’m sure that bands like the Promise Ring that have walked away from those accidents don’t want some dork at a show making jokes about it.
As a side note, Brodie’s Warehouse has been closed down by the Fire Marshall. Brodie’s served as Orlando’s primary venue for underground bands. I’m sure that by the time this gets printed, Chris Sapone and others who were responsible for running and setting up shows at Brodie’s have found a new place in Orlando to do shows. Keep your eyes open for upcoming shows, their efforts are worth your support. Heckle with care.