The Promise Ring/Schatzi - live in Iowa City (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Promise Ring / Schatzi

live in Iowa City (2002)

live show

Somehow the Promise Ring has always eluded me in a live setting. I've known about them for years, they've played within an hour of me dozens of times, and yet I've never caught them at a show. Whether it be just bad luck or some cosmic karma thing I'll never be sure, but the indie rock gods smiled upon me on March 11th allowing me to attend this rock show.

Having 3 different people that were supposed to go to the show flake on me was nothing new, so I quickly recruited my friend Greg on literally a moment's notice and we took off down I-80, getting to Gabe's Oasis about halfway through local band Faultlines' set. They had the ever-growing crowd getting into their Small Brown Bike-esque rock [even though the singer would be a dead ringer for the main vocalist in Millencolin]. Even a "jaded old scenester" like me got into it, bobbing my head and tapping my feet. I picked up their EP after the show and it's worth the few bucks I dropped on it. Check the band out at, you'll be glad you did.

Up next was Austin, TX natives Schatzi. This band has been getting quite the buzz of late, and with their new album "50 Reasons to Explode" just released I don't see the hype dying down. The band's set was full of energetic tunes like "Death Of The Alphabet," "The Spider Smells Disaster," "Sucked Into Something," and closer "Stephanie." They were too cock-rock to be pop-punk and too pop-punk to be emo. They straddled that fine line like a drunk in a sobriety test, and they passed with flying colors. My only complaint was that the band has their own unique lighting techniques on stage [ala the Faint] but in response Gabe's turned their stage lights off causing the band to be in relative darkness for most of their set. Oh well.

As the Promise Ring began to set up, I got more and more anxious. I had briefly talked to lead singer Davey von Bohlen earlier in the night and gushed to him about how much I adored the new album, "Wood/Water" [coming out on Anti on April 23rd], and he seemed genuinely happy that I enjoyed the album. The reason being is, the band will probably take a lot of flack from former fans with this album due to it, well, not really sounding like anything they've ever done. But I'll save my remarks for my CD review [coming soon]. The band, newly expanded with fifth member William Seidel on keyboards and auxillary percussion, took the stage with a rousing rendition of "Size Of Your Life," the first track off the new album. The song is a major departure from the Ring's older material due to Davey trying a new vocal style on this track. It sounded absolutely amazing live, and drummer Dan Didier completely reinvented the track with his heart-pounding drumming. The band then went on to rock me senseless for the next 75 minutes. Some highlights:

  • An abundance of new material. Out of 17 songs, 9 were off the new album. Pretty risky for an album which the public has not had time to hear and appreciate. They all sounded wonderful, even Davey's voice cracking on encore number "Feed The Night."
  • The band's first show in over 6 months. They all seemed freshly rested and their banter on stage was grade A comedy. They even took the usual hecklers in stride and came right back at them. Davey's shit-eating grin was priceless.
  • A pitcher of water was thrown at Davey during new song "Bread and Coffee," drenching him and his acoustic guitar. He just kept on going and even thanked the person for doing it in his own sarcastic way.
  • The oldies: Sure, I love the new material but hearing crowd pleasers like "A Picture Postcard" for the first time sent shivers down my spine. "Emergency! Emergency!" also sounded completely different to me, as I used to loathe the entire "Very Emergency" album, but I found myself yelling out "S.O.S!" just as loud as I could when the time came.
    I thought the band put on one hell of a show, and the new material, which is very contained and mellow on the new disc, really took a life of it's own while being performed [I'm willing to bet this was the first time a majority of those songs had been performed live]. The show was magical for me; it made me want to just hitch a ride with the band down to Texas -- I loved the show that much. As a personal request, I saw someone taping the show at the right of the stage -- *please* get in contact with me if that was you, as I would love to get a copy of the show. I urge anyone who lives even remotely near their upcoming May shows with the Weakerthans makes the right decision and attends: this is the best show I've attended all year.

    The Promise Ring's setlist:
    Size Of Your Life
    Stop Playing Guitar
    The Deep South
    Suffer Never
    Become One Anything One Time
    Bread and Coffee
    Red & Blue Jeans
    A Picture Postcard
    My Life Is At Home
    Wake Up April
    Nothing Feels Good
    Why Did We Ever Meet
    Emergency! Emergency! [not on set list]
    Get On The Floor

    Feed The Night
    Happiness Is All The Rage