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Live Review and Photos: Iceage, July 24, 2011, Echo – Los Angeles, CA

As we earlier reported, One Thirty BPM had the opportunity to check out an incredible show last week where members of Black Flag performed with No Age in a one-off reunion-ish affair that inspired a man in a wheelchair to crowd-surf and countless teenagers to hurl themselves from the stage at my photo-taking face (here). I got hurt, I got mad, and I had a blast. But, though I heard the rumblings of Iceage as this “second-coming of punk” or some shit, I really didn’t expect this show to come near the No Flag performance in terms of “punkness” (yes, I just said “punkness”). Well, uh, it did.

First, like any punk show (and, the evening was part of a Sunday night series that plays at the Echo called “Part-Time Punks,” which can feature anything from bands like Iceage to Smiths dance parties) there were a couple of openers to get through, both of which seemed to have followings in attendance. Geisha Girls, whose rust could be blamed on what their singer claimed were “two shows in five years,” came out swinging with energetic, bass-driven tunes that showcased top-notch punk drumming and enough forward-momentum to keep the audience moving without questioning what they were moving to. In contrast, Cult Of Youth did not appear with any resemblance of a punk setup (acoustic guitar? violin?), but singer Sean Ragon’s attitude, drunken snarl of a delivery and shouted words came off as something similar to The Pogues or Gogol Bordello, but not yet fully realized. Indeed, the violin was a nice touch and people did seem to know all the words to some of the songs, so maybe a little more exposure is all this reviewer would need to really get into their set.

Now, a lot has been made of the ages of the Danish quartet (all 18-19), and indeed their sound reaches back to the early-80s, before any of them were born, but it isn’t that surprising to me that youngsters can produce music this immediate and brazen. This is what young people are supposed to do – shun societal norms, show a disregard for their safety and the safety of others, remain oblivious to audience expectations.

Iceage’s performance lasted for about 20 minutes. That includes them stopping about 15 minutes in, appearing to be done, looking confused, and then re-tearing the roof off of the Echo Park club with a blistering rendition of “Broken Bone.” The anarchy that took place during the set was somewhat unexpected. Sure, their debut album New Brigade hints at their intensity in all its post-punk, Gang Of Four-on-crank majesty, but when four kids in Adidas get on stage, you don’t expect the audience to flip out and simultaneously try to all kill each other. I have been to a lot of shows at The Echo, and I was never once aware of security on the premises. Within 5 minutes of Iceage’s beginning security had taken to the small stage to enforce their anti-stage diving policy. They were unsuccessful. I was kicked in the head and have a jacket that might forever smell like the tiny girl next to me’s whisky and coke. People were pushed up onto the stage, shoving the monitor at the band, but the band, quickly shedding all of their boyish calm, responded by upping their temperature and delivering a show that was worthy of the atmosphere.

Soon the microphone stand was thrown to the ground and singer Elias Bender stood at the edge of the stage, hunched over the crowd, part performer and part instigator, inspiring not the acrobatic and graceful stage diving that I had seen at No Flag, but the kind that would be more akin to a cannonball than a dive. Songs were played and music was the reason for the hysteria, but what was played and how it sounded couldn’t matter less. Iceage’s album already proves their worth in terms of their song craft. On Sunday night, they took the roll as misanthropes, pissing off some who expected more than a 20-minute set. It was about as punk of a move as I can imagine and shows that Iceage might be building a mythology before any of them turn 20 years old.

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