By Erin Christie
Called “Denmark’s Greatest Punk Band” by Newsweek Magazine, Copenhagen’s trophy-child, Iceage, is making their mark globally, one black eye at a time.
Members Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (lead vocals), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums) and Johan Suurballe Wieth (guitar) joined forces prior to their high school graduations, on the cusp of adolescence into young adulthood.
Armed with angst and an expansive knowledge of late 70’s and 80’s punk, Rønnenfelt and co. beg for revolution and their efforts have paid off greatly.
The last date of their roughly two month long North American run took place at Brooklyn’s own Market Hotel on the 28th of June. Located above a busy supermarket in the heart of the borough, one can only imagine how easy it could’ve been for the floor of the venue to collapse, the audience and band meeting cool linoleum and the scent of fresh greenery.
Though the floor remained intact, within the venue itself, a type of destruction just as catastrophic still took place, the air murky with humidity and passion in the aftermath.
Upon hearing that Beyondless, released earlier this year, was their FOURTH studio record, I was shocked that I hadn’t heard much of them before. Soon enough, though, I’m sure everyone on the NYC Subway could enjoy them along with me through the dull hum escaping my pulsing earbuds for the next month and a half following its release as I played it almost obsessively. Can you blame me?
Beyondless is sweet AND sultry, bold AND understated, crude, yet still business- professional- it’s a brave concoction that sits like fine wine, an acquired taste that is just as easy to entrance as it is to take by surprise. Thriving off of unpredictability, for the band, it’s not about shock-value, but more about provoking audiences with what they otherwise wouldn’t expect. In a live atmosphere, this rings even more true. Like the actual Ice Age, Iceage brings a devastating chill accompanied seamlessly with the promise of new life: a new life for the early days of punk that were seemingly buried in the dust long ago.
In another life, it wouldn’t be difficult to picture Rønnenfelt as a Renaissance novelist, nose buried in dust-ridden texts, searching for inspiration. Aside from his missing petticoat, Rønnenfelt embodies literary prowess, this album, as well as the three previous, drenched in rich imagery and filled with color.
Lines such as “If we must, we’ll have us pinned like butterflies/ Framed in glass displays/ As we’re three sheets to the wind” (taken from “Thieves Like Us”) provoke startling imagery of spindly fairy-like beings, entrapped in a predicament of their own making. Iceage has a way of creating caricatures, such as this, that are stunningly beautiful, yet equally as thrilling, creating a platform for picturesque poetry to take form.
“You arrive like a siren refrain,” Rønnenfelt croons in the second track (and one of the early singles), “Pain Killer,” recalling his lover’s killer quality hidden behind a delicate porcelain mask. Like a siren’s song, his lover’s words were enough to render him hopeless, under a trance of lust and desire that, as Rønnenfelt himself describes, “might not be good for you.”
“Hurrah,” undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy of this most recent release is an ode to CBGB, undertones of blaring bass tumble over the rhythm and into the mind like an earworm, relentless and there to stay. One of the opening tracks of the night, the crowd surged with energy in the no more than 300 capacity venue. The sheer heat within the room made my glasses fog, worsened so by the amount of jumping and dancing I decided to engage in (justifiably so!)
Rønnenfelt is a temptress of his own design on stage, cracking his microphone cord like a whip and stomping around the platform. He effortlessly commands the stage like a puppet-master, and the crowd bends at his touch. As I wielded my camera before him, eager to capture his utter beauty, I recall him crouching down close and sitting down on the amp directly in front of me. Though my camera was slightly smushed under his weight, I didn’t care as we screamed the lyrics into each other’s faces.
As I exited Market Hotel after the show, my ears ringing and my calves weak from having nearly never touched the floor throughout the entirety of their set, euphoria surged through my veins, a feeling only equivalent to what I’d imagine true, unapologetic happiness feels like.
Though this was the last date of this particular run, they’ll be back on tour with Black Lips this fall! Also, make sure to keep up with them on social media for the latest (@iceage).