Better than…whatever you were doing between 12:15 and 12:35 last night.
When it comes to live acts, Copenhagen's Iceage is a bullet train of band: powerful, direct and gone in the blink of an eye. They're even punctual–the punk quartet's L.A. debut at The Echo Sunday night clocked in at 20 minutes flat. Not bad, considering their acclaimed LP New Brigade crams 12 songs into 24 minutes.
In any other circumstances, it would've been debatable whether the boys of Iceage were even old enough to get into The Echo's “18 and over” Part Time Punks club that hosted the show.
But this wasn't other circumstances–this was a show from a band whose perfect storm of post-punk, goth and hardcore has been making critics and pissed-off youth across the country swoon. It's no surprise then that Iceage packed the house, selling out tickets online as well as an additional 200 made available at the door that night.
When the boys finally took the stage at a quarter past midnight, it was clear there was business to be taken care of. There was no schmoozing with the crowd, no chit-chat about “how excited they were to be here–all the way from Denmark!” Instead, Iceage lept into the aural assault “Count Me In,” a track best described as a competition between guitar and drums over which can play faster and louder.
Singer-guitarist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (you can find his picture next to the definition for “brooding” in the dictionary) paced the stage with all the ferocity and anxiety of a caged lion, growling and felating the mic as the machine-gun momentum of Dan Kjær Nielsen's drumming propelled the band through the set. Nonetheless, the crowd seemed badly in need of an ice(age) breaker during the first half of the night. Maybe it was just a Sunday; maybe The Echo just isn't the best venue for bands with that bursting-at-the-seams sound. Whatever the reason, the audience's stoic gazes and half-assed pogoing were a far cry from the reputation of bloodied noses and chipped-toothed grins that precedes Iceage's live act.
And that's why all in attendance have these guys to thank for making the first raucous move:
The moshpit revved up, audience members climbed and jumped from the stage like it was an amusement park ride. Above all, Rønnenfelt was freed from his cage, and he threw down his guitar in favor of using the mic chord to literally whip the crowd into shape.
But as the band rounded out the set with fan favorite “You're Blessed”–an anger anthem that sounds like a hidden gem from the early days of post-punk–it was apparent Rønnenfelt felt his work was done. The kid's got a spark that burns out bright and fast, and he performs with an unlikely pairing of intensity and distance that's evocative of Ian Curtis. Even when interacting with the crowd, he always seemed to be looking off into some distance rather than at anyone or anything particular. No sooner had Iceage played than they left the stage without a single word or a look back. The train stopped, the ride was over. But you can count on us jumping aboard again.
Personal Bias: I'm totally crushin'.
The Crowd: Think Berlin n' bros: PTP's usual contingent of angular, well-coiffed attendees in black was met by a surprising number of spiky-haired, plaid-shorted dudes. All joined forces for the most eclectic little moshpit this side of Friday night.
Random Notebook Dump: Can't tell if the people climbing onto stage are part of the crowd or security. Not much crowd control. Security possibly stage-diving?
Count Me In