The Promise Ring
with Burning Airlines and the Condition
Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando, FL • December 2, 1999
A packed house for tonight. The Condition opened, a band from Wisconsin with ex-members of Compound Red. Compound Red was the band the Promise Ring was on tour with the first time they played Orlando at the Grind coffeehouse. The new band seems to pick up close to where Compound Red left off, with fluid, powerful songs with the occasional twang. Long songs that held my attention nicely. I guess they had a CD EP available, but I must have missed that. They were good — I’d like to hear more from them.
Burning Airlines is the latest band from J. Robbins, formerly of the seminal band Jawbox. Burning Airlines’ full length Mission: Control! on DeSoto is as immediately classic to me as Jawbox’s Novelty , so I had high expectations for them live. They played an amazing set. I couldn’t have been happier with their performance. Burning Airlines are still in the Jawbox/DC rock vein, but a little more straightforward and with some pop edges. J. Robbins jumped around a bit, they had nice transitions between songs, and plenty of energy throughout. Most of the songs I recognized from Mission: Control! (“Scissoring,” “Pacific 231,” “Carnival”), but there were three I didn’t. Whether these were from the seven inch or new songs, I don’t know. They were great all the way through, though, with “The Escape Engine” being my favorite for the underlying back-ups from drummer Peter Moffett. Nicely done.
The Promise Ring opened with the first two songs off Very Emergency , their latest album on Jade Tree. From the beginning to the end, singer/guitarist Davey vonBohlen was all hip-shaking sassiness. Yeah, the moves seemed a little contrived at times, but it’s nice that he’s able to find a way to have fun while playing the same songs every night. Nice, too, that he’s moving around on stage. Overall, it was cute.
Their extensive touring definitely shows — they were tight. Total bouncy pop hooks all over the place. Most of the songs were from their latest album, but moments of 30º Everywhere and Nothing Feels Good crept in there, as well. The only weak moment was “A Picture Postcard,” which was presented in a rather bored manner. Well, not the band, just Davey’s singing of it in general. The crowd ate the song up and sang along full force, but in general, it seems like a song that Davey, at least, is over with. A very minor bump in an otherwise great night. A lot of dancing about and singing along. J. Robbins helped out on the sidelines with back-ups on some songs, and organ and tambourine on “Things Just Getting Good.” An encore with mock rockstar finish, and the night was brought to an end. Pretty fun all around.