Iceage / Nadah El Shazly / Rhythm of Cruelty Temple, Edmonton, May 2
Published May 03, 2019Being good-looking, young, and angry will never go out of style. Iceage have brandished that attitude better than most throughout their existence as a band. In recent years, however, they've veered away from frenetic noise-punk and toward a less anxious, cinematic post-punk style. Despite the shift, they remain wildly unbridled live, and brought their beautifully dishevelled energy to Edmonton Thursday night.
One thing unmentioned on the Atlas Obscura guide to Edmonton is that it has a sizeable and active experimental music scene, many of whom seemed to be in attendance. Denizens of the experimental scene themselves, cold post punk duo Rhythm of Cruelty opened the evening to an appreciative crowd filing in. Second opener Nadah El Shazly then utterly beguiled a large swath of the crowd with a disorienting North African electro-drone set.
Iceage then took the stage without any banter or unnecessary introduction. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt arrogated control of the room from his first step through the crowd and into his arena. From the growling opening riff of "Abundant Living," Rønnenfelt's shambolic swagger eclipsed the rest of his band. He spent the entire set in front of the monitors, leering into the crowd, compelling the closest to him into a frenzy.
Iceage's set list contained songs from all of their albums, with songs from 2018's Beyondless forming the core of the set. For a lesser band, it would be a hard balancing act to alternate between rabid New Brigade-era tracks like "White Ruin" and songs like "The Lord's Favourite" that are more akin to the Birthday Party, but Iceage managed to construct a cohesive cacophony by not trying to be too clever or too precious with their material.
It helped the consistency that there weren't any of the strings, horns or extra instrumentation featured on Beyondless for this show. Two edgy guitars, a prodigious drummer, bass and Rønnenfelt were all that were required. Though Rønnenfelt was the natural center of attention, he was propelled by the fervour of his band as well as the crowd. No one was competing for who could care less.
For those unfamiliar with the lyrics, Rønnenfelt's nonchalant, slurring vocal delivery acted more like a punctuation than a lead melody, yet "Pain Killer" stoked the crowd into a fist-pumping sing-along that lasted through to the last notes of closer "Catch It." No encore nor apology followed. What better way to glorify youth than to set it on fire, then turn and walk away?