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Promise Ring swears by bouncy, power pop

BY CHRIS LANE
Daily Arts Writer
Published April 12, 2001

Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy. And even more happy with a few gushing ballads here and there. No, this is not a description of a "Ren and Stimpy" episode, it is surely The Promise Ring at the Magic Stick. The emo-pop quartet from Milwaukee graces the stage tonight and promises the happy and the joy and a whole lot of sensitive, yet catchy, power pop.

Paul Wong
The Promise Ring stops by Detroit to get their pop rock on.<br><br>Courtesy of Jade Tree Records

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But whatever you do, don"t describe them as an emo band as I just did. According to a recent interview with "Spin," the band hates that word. True, their lyrics and well-flavored guitar work have moved a few streets away from the pining, boo-hoo sadness that characterizes the emo scene. Yet, one can still feel a twinge of heartbreak and swooning in the band"s latest four-song confection, Electric Pink. No doubt, they"ll give these new treats prime playing time, but the band never fails to play a cross section of its catalog.

So what does The Promise Ring sound like? Their roots spring up from the Milwaukee emo scene, but they have transcended that sound and moved to something more boppy and bouncy. It is a smart brand of melodic pop rock with clever, lovey dovey lyrics. What arises is something like a cross between Husker Du and John Denver. Trust me, they"re a foot-tapping affair.

Which brings us to the live performance. The Promise Ring knows exactly how to fill a room full of fun. Singer/guitarist Davey vonBohlen"s natural, good-old-boy charm and boyish voice is downright contagious. One would have never guess that the man had a brain tumor, but he did. He"s better now and back to being happy.

But once the music starts, the whole band seems to come out of its shell. They talk to the audience. They take requests, although never suggest them to cover "Gouge Away." They hate that, as well. The band tries to make a connection. They strum and thwack and gush out an energy that flies up your spine and refuses to let you back into your stress-filled, well-caffeineated world. You just can"t stop the bop.

The Promise Ring promises to be a fine evening. Get some friends. Get some gas. Cart it out to Detroit and get your pop/emo fill for the year. Arty jazz funk group Euphone opens up the night. So, if you are just too much of a pessimist to stay for the headlining happiness, there should be some variety. Just don"t call them an emo band. Say "ome" instead.