The anticipation in the air last Friday night at Ding Dong Lounge was high. The crowd in attendance were here to see one thing only – with that being the dark, powerful sounds of Danish punk band Iceage. Having only been on our shores just four months ago for a rushed group of club dates, this time saw them taking on larger stages and a slot on Melbourne’s revered Sugar Mountain festival. Tonight found them stepping up to the stage both physically and into their element, proving to the Melbourne crowd why they are one of the most exciting and engaging bands around today.
With tonight’s support slot being filled by Melbourne’s garage rock royalty UV Race, those who know what was good for them made sure they got down (relatively) early. But in reality, it was without difficulty to see that the crowd was suffering from a one-track-mind. However, UV Race (despite being without their keyboard player tonight) showed them why they are so highly regarded overseas for being such an influential sound upon the garage scene. Songs such as I’m A Pig and Raw Balls managed to get the crowd to move forward, (into the previously barren space in front of the stage, with lead singer Marcus’ explanation of there being a lingering fart in this space) have a bounce around and really start to get into it. Unfortunately the crowd and the stage are quite unfamiliar to UV Race, so in the circumstances they did a pretty stellar job.
Lumbering onto the stage, with their almost trademark blank, emotionless stares, Iceage left no time for banter (which remained at a minimum for the entire set) before punching through a commanding set of tracks from their three albums, while the obligatory focus landed on their Pitchfork-approved latest album Plowing Into The Field Of Love. Latest single The Lord’s Favourite received the most appraise, generating a sizeable mosh and a few brave crowd-surfers. While the energetic types expressed their admiration via movement, the majority of the crowd was confined to a Melbourne-esc stance, either out of fear, admiration, or awe. Lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is renowned for his intimidating stance, pacing and pushing his way around the stage, death-glaring members of the audience and pushing his lyrics out with a heart full of rage. Powerful moments such as furious renditions of How Many and Forever certainly gave their presence an aura of impending terror, which without doubt left the usually hard to crack Melbourne crowd impressed and pleased to be witness to such a spectacle. Sure, they weren’t without their stumbles; half way through the set saw what looked like a disagreement between the band regarding the set list, which turned out to be the only real break for the entire set. They also finished abruptly, with the usual “thank-you, goodnight” which normally heralds the exit with the intention of an encore. With the crowd noise and house music on before the band really had a chance to return, it is unknown whether they indeed intended on playing an encore or not. It would not be surprising to learn that this is their custom; the minimal crowd interaction and cool kid schtick gives the idea that they really just do whatever the hell they want. And why wouldn’t they, when the world is lapping at their feet, aching just to hear minutes of one of last year’s most talked about albums.
As a whole the exiting crowd gave a vibe of content, privilege and befuddlement regarding the lack of encore. However, finally Iceage have finally had their chance to impress the tough Melbourne crowd, and came out on top. No doubt many of the punters there would be facing a repeat effort at the following day’s Sugar Mountain festival at VCA, where their impressive and hyped presence would sure to slide in nicely along the other curated bands. This goes without saying that these guys have worked hard for where they are today, at such a young age and already three impressive albums under their belt – for which Melbourne is very conscious and appreciative of this, their proven opportunity.