I don’t think I’ve been to a proper punk show since high school. Not because I haven’t been able to make the time, I just realized somewhere around 11th grade that I don’t particularly care for most modern punk music. Even the “classics” like DC heroes Black Flag and Fugazi don’t really float my boat, mostly because I hate anything that sounds like it was recorded in a room full of bees. By all accounts then, I should really hate Danish punks Iceage and their “New Brigade”, an album that flies its lo-fi punk flag just as high as the aforementioned bands. But if you’re one of the 40 or so who subscribe to this blog, then you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Scandinavian, which is the only explanation for my initial curiosity, and eventual love, of this album.
Their show at the Black Cat last Tuesday was moved to the backstage room due to a low pre-sale, but a band like Iceage, known for their bloody live sets, could only benefit from the intimate setting. Opener Dirty Beaches was disappointingly underwhelming, doing that bullshit Brooklyn noise thing (“you guys, I saw a video of a band from the 60’s using a lot of feedback and it was pretty sweet! Let’s try that!”). The highlight was when lead singer Alex Zhang Huntai stood up and kicked his chair behind him in what I guess was supposed to be a dramatic fashion. Not only did the kick not connect with the chair right away, but it ending up hitting Iceage singer Elias Bender in the chest. Sometimes people have to hurt for my amusement.
Finally, Iceage took the stage. One of the tidbits I read about the band before coming to the show was how un-punk they actually look. True enough, no one in the band was sporting a band shirt or spiked necklace, but instead went for the button downs and boat shoes. Also, as no one in the band is 21 yet, they brandished Pepsi and bottled water instead of beer and whiskey.
The performance itself was like most punk shows, with lots of wild thrashing, barely-audible lyrics, and a sea of people slamming their sweaty bodies into one-another (yum). In other words, good, mostly-harmless fun. Perhaps the best part of the show was it’s length. The band pummeled through their already-fast songs without any guitar solos or crowd banter, offering little improvisation or filler. After finishing with album closer “You’re Blessed”, Elias offered a mumbled “Takk” (Danish for “Thanks”) into the mic before jumping off the front of the stage and straight out of the venue. A good, punk ending.