It’s rare that Iceage get a mention in the music press – or anywhere else for that matter – without their nationality (Danish) or age (really bloody young) getting a mention.
While it looks like this piece is no exception, I honestly believe that the reason there’s such a buzz around them is because their debut LP is just plain good. Detractors might argue that New Brigade doesn’t actually do anything new at all, and to be honest I’d be inclined to agree – slurred vocals, discordant guitar parts and a frenzied snare attack have been the lifeblood of punk for the last three decades and then some. But to criticise Iceage for being what they are is to miss the point entirely. The reason for punk’s enduring appeal is that it is, to a particular, an ever-present demographic, a winning formula. More than any other, this sort of band relies on musical personality over technical ability to make an impact. And make an impact these boys do.
Tonight was always going to be a shambolic affair, but a shambles, like any other flavour of performance, tastes different to each and every punter. From the moment these four over-serious, under-eager miscreants take the stage and race each other to the end of the opener, the kids at the front bounce and twist with glee while the rest of the Cellar looks on with an inconsistent mix of bemusement, excitement and apprehension.
While three-quarters of Iceage seem totally oblivious to the presence of said persons, frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is the crucial exception. Right from the off he looks positively peeved, treating anyone who dares get close to the stage to the sort of eye-contact usually reserved for pre-title-fight press conferences. When one keen fan turns to the rest of the crowd and throws his hands in the air in an ill-considered attempt to start a stadium-style clap-along, he is rewarded by being dragged backwards over Rønnenfelt’s stage monitor and deposited upon the stage like a mid-set sweat-towel.
Our set for this evening is comprised of a positively antagonistic amount of new material: of a possible twelve tracks from their enthusiastically received debut they air only three, all of which elicit a notably warmer reaction than their previously un-aired counterparts. The rest of the set is filled, presumably, with whatever they’ve written since then, which for better or for worse is pretty much more of the same: visceral, sloppy, chunks of mess that slyly, almost secretly bear the sort of hooks usually reserved for straight up pop music. Impossibly, the drummer seems to get faster and faster as the set plays out and before we know it the angry assault stops suddenly and the band finishes their set more-or-less the way they started it: wordlessly and coldly, they put down their instruments and walk away.
I doubt we’ll ever see Iceage again around these parts, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more noise from (and about) them in the near future. Whether or not you listen… well, I doubt that bothers them in the least, and if that’s not punk then I don’t know what is.