Iceage Has Evolved Beyond its Knife Era

Iceage (due this Sunday, October 26, at the Hi-Dive) from Copenhagen, Denmark made a splash when it first started playing in the U.S.A. over three years ago. Synthesizing the raw energy of hardcore with the moodiness of post-punk, Iceage was and still is an electrifying live act. Even then, though, the group courted controversy with the 'zines its members produced and the selling of knives as merchandise. It was claimed that the imagery in one of the old 'zines referenced the Ku Klux Klan, an allegation easily dismissed because the Klan really doesn't have foothold in a place like Denmark. And there weren't a spate of knifing injuries at the shows. Its then debut full-length, 2011's New Brigade, was one of the most exciting punk releases in years.

With the follow-up record, 2013's You're Nothing, Iceage proved it could grow without losing the fire of the live performance. The angular, abrasively melodic songs recalled early Hüsker Dü and on tour the group commanded larger audiences in the States based on the word-of-mouth championing of everyone who caught the band's earlier foray into the USA beyond the East Coast whether at a commercial club or the various DIY spaces, including Denver's Rhinoceropolis on August 2, 2011.

"It's a bit more personal and you deal with people that actually do this because they care about music," comments singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt on his preference for DIY spaces and warehouses. "The audience is more decent, I think."

On October 7, Matador released the latest offering from Iceage, Plowing Into the Field of Love, a record that shows that Iceage is capable of writing beyond the aesthetic of its earlier hardcore/post-punk hybrid. And the band is now even more difficult to pigeonhole, with songs that wouldn't be out of place on an unlikely countrified New Model Army album or some surrealistic latter day Birthday Party release. Signing to a bigger label and expanding its sound beyond some misguided, purist allegiance to the past may have earned the scorn of some fans but Rønnenfelt feels Iceage has enjoyed the support of its immediate musical community.

"Of course some people think we are assholes and have bad stuff to say about us," muses Rønnenfelt. "But the little scene we come from and the bands, they support us and don't give us shit about anything."

Though still playing small venues of all kinds, Iceage's reputation has blossomed considerably and with the diversity of Plowing Into the Field of Love, and the support in a larger music market inherent to being involved with Matador, it seems as though Iceage is poised to raise its profile outside its core fan base of those with a taste for imaginative and edgy punk.

Iceage w/Helm and Civilized, 8 p.m. doors, 9 p.m. show, Sunday, October 26, Hi-Dive, 303-733-0230, $12, 18+

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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.