The problem with getting old is getting smart. And getting smart from a musical standpoint means getting complicated. Harmonies, counterpoints, alternate time signatures, irony, post-irony, themes, counterthemes, anti-themes. Before you know it, you’ve written a Meat Loaf-esque rock opera, which has its own substantial sets of pros and cons.
That isn’t to say iceage‘s particular brand of punk rock is dumb – it’s just that all members of the Danish quartet are shockingly young. This, their first US tour, was given the green light by the fact that the members were finally released from the school-year. And with all musicians at that age, it gives their sound a brutal simplicity – a raw edge, perfect for punk.
Onstage, the band was exceptionally unexceptional. Of the four, the only member who gave a hint at his character was frontman Elias Ronnenfelt. As he smashed around his guitar and yowled into the microphone, it was clear that the group had a mastery beyond their years. It was with a certain naiveté, mixed with the dull roar of shitty instruments that gave the band its live appeal. Like watching old broadcasts of early Joy Division performances, you could see the potential beginnings of an honest movement stemming from fresh and peculiar new faces.
It’s hard to come up with criticisms for bands like iceage, not only because I’d expect the retort to come as a swift Danish left hook but also because it isn’t meant to be precise or articulate. iceage does well to generate the nihilistic attitude that captured the attention of Generation X years ago. Further adding to their impressive sense of relentless energy was an attentiveness not to overstay their welcome. Unlike their opening band Anatomy of Habit (who played two painfully boring songs over the course of an hour), iceage played about a dozen songs over the course of a thirty minute set, leaving everyone wanting more but also leaving a refreshing shockwave of quick energy. Just enough time to get in the pit and draw some blood.