Bar Lane Studios, York, November 25
Tonight, Iceage look like a gang of 1990s teen film icons – singer Elias and bassist Jakob with their River Phoenix hair set into curtains and guitarist Johan sporting a scruffy ‘on-the-cusp-of-grunge’ shirt, hanging loose over his trousers. Drummer Dan is at it too, in an oversized jumper and jeans. The boyish charms end there, though. They’re a surly bunch, and the effects of life on the road weigh heavy on their young faces. If they’re excited to be here, they’re keeping it well under wraps. But that’s OK, because these four Danish punks, all in their early twenties, bring a rep for a fierce and physical show with them to this chilly, no-frills cellar.
As ‘New Brigade’ kicks off, the circle pit explodes into action, decimating any boundaries between band and audience, or chaos and violence. Elias lands a hand on the largest participant and spins him around by his hood, unsure of whether to finish off his prey or merely toy with it. Before long, his vocals are delivered from the cold tiled floor as he becomes the victim of his own stage set-up, tripping over an upturned monitor, momentarily lost in a dog-pile of bodies. The rest of the band look on, nonplussed, studiously churning out the deceptively intricate riffs and beats that make up the new album ‘You’re Nothing’ (due in February), laying out a solid framework for their frontman to create havoc in.
When Dan kicks out the marching beat of ‘Morals’, Elias, with cracked lips and a provocative stare, pushes his chest out at the audience, arms open wide and screams, in an aggressive drawl, “Where’s your morals?” He swings off the microphone stand and into their faces, like an unhinged old crooner, on the verge of losing his cool. When the band play ‘You’re Nothing’ they do so as though they’re running out of patience with their own music and with life itself, clattering through their melodic punk blueprint with cocksure abandon. Iceage may have a new album on the way but this is no ‘testing out new material’ tour. As confidence in their songwriting has developed, it’s made for an even more powerful live show, with the emotional intensity ramped up to 11.