Photos by Mike Schwarz
“Play something you know!” As far as heckles go, I have to admit, that’s not bad. But the timing is a little off; Danish punk quartet iceage, supporting their impressive new record Plowing in the Field of Love, just played their first song of the night, “On My Fingers,” on which lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt growls, “I don’t care who’s house is on fire, as long as I can warm myself at the blaze.” Waiting on him to give a fuck about whether or not someone in the audience at Great Scott feels his vocals are up to snuff feels like the beginning of a very long night.
But really, nobody should be complaining; iceage’s nuanced, but always relentless, attack came after a 30-minute set from Helm, which is great if you like to hear a guy standing in the dark pitch-bending sounds over repeated drum patterns. After a strong start — all-female noise outfit RAKTA and their incomprehensible-yet-still-effective blend of psych/death metal/James Bond-on-LSD styles did well — the specter of the Patriots dropping a division game at home to the free-falling Jets began to take over the room. They didn’t (Pats blocked the game-winning field goal attempt, natch), and Rønnenfelt and co. promptly went about taking the room back.
His response to the heckler was simple: “How Many,” he drawled, then the band kicked in to their track of the same name (though someone had the bright suggestion to “punch that guy in the face!”). The singer, stalking and swaying while holding on to the mic stand, all good looks and wispy blonde hair a la River Phoenix, controls the band’s energy through his voice, which betrays an earnest pleading running underneath the aggressive streak. Rønnenfelt let’s a bit of that out on “How Many,” only to bury it deep within the vengeful howl of “Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled,” backed Dan Kjær Nielsen’s machine gun percussion and Johan Surrballe Wieth’s dirty guitars. If you needed a song to play in the background while trading your soul to the devil, this would be a solid pick.
And if you can tear through a song like “Abundant Living” (with Rønnenfelt vowing “I will outnumber, I will out drink and crash through borders”) a sense of controlled chaos, you may be on to something. iceage have managed to polish and focus their sound on Plowing, even if they still don’t give a fuck about a heckler.
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