Show Review: Iceage @ Caledonia Lounge, Athens, GA 07-26-12

Iceage are four young musicians making the grittiest punk since punk’s spawning. This is punk born from the shadows of Copenhagen, and their reputation of putting on rollicking, bloody live performances precedes them wherever they go. They’ve sold out shows before in the United States, but on this night, they graced the city of Athens, GA, which (remember) isn’t Brooklyn. As much as everyone in Athens loves going ape at local shows, something seems to happen in venues headlined by raw live bands working in the punk and post-punk vein. I came to see Iceage tear through Caledonia like the teenage, angst-ridden rebels they are, and I hoped the audience would be ready.

Opening band Vincas set the bar fairly high in my opinion, but Iceage tour mates Merchandise lacked a general stage presence that I was hoping for. You’re opening for Iceage man; mess up the crowd a bit.

Well, once the members of Iceage (singer excluded) took the stage, I began to feel the shoves of the now shirtless men around me. The pit was forming, and though it was small, these guys were here for the same reasons I was.

Iceage looked around the venue for their frontman, who had recently walked into the bathroom. The guitarist called his name in the mic. Some concertgoers searched the room as well. Others stretched their arms.

Lead singer Elias Rønnenfelt marched out of the bathroom and onto the stage, grabbing his guitarist by the shoulder and stating something quietly urgent in his face. It appeared as though he were reprimanding his player for calling his name in the microphone. The tension was already high, and that’s about the time I started to fear for my life.

Iceage just started playing. Out of nowhere, they exploded, and so did the crowd. I was knocked backwards as Rønnenfelt bellowed into the mic. It was difficult discerning what song was which because of the general mayhem occurring onstage. The audience matched the energy fairly well, but there was still something missing on the floor. Iceage has given new life to a genre that (remember) is 30-something years old. They’ve transported us back to 1977, bringing with them a shirt-tearing, contemporary sensibility that could only exist in this day and age. An enthused concertgoer appeared sidestage with a shot in his hand, offering it to Rønnenfelt mid-set. He looked confusedly at the gift. Then he knocked it out of the guy’s hands, sending alcohol flying. I wanted to destroy property right about then.

After about twenty-five minutes of destruction, Iceage stopped, and Rønnenfelt lurched forward and walked off the stage. In a few steps, he was out of the venue. The show was over. The place smelled terrible. Sweaty hugs were given.

Iceage is touring the world after one debut album, and their live show in Athens that night was like witnessing history. They are an unstoppable force of punk, and though the Athens crowd seems to have lost some of its teeth over time, Iceage has more than enough power to keep the fire going for a while.

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