I walk into the empty and iconic 100 Club immediately after doors open and have a roam around. Bar staff aside, the room is unbelievably empty due to how criminally early it is. Entering the void not only allowed me to have an uninterrupted look at the framed photographs of previous 100 Club gigs that hang on the burgundy-painted walls, but also helps me decide which of the night’s promotional gig posters would be most accessibly stealable.
Two people in the room stood out almost instantly for an unbeknownst reason. They were both behind the merchandise table – the first was a childhood friend of Iceage who flogs their t-shirts and badges for a living. The second, smartly dressed and leaning on the wall, was Elias Bender Rønnenfelt – the lead signer of Iceage and tonight’s centre of attention. His presence was strangely overwhelming, yet inconspicuous at the same time. He shakes my hand firmly. “Hi, I’m Elias. What’s your name?” he asks as we strike a sustained eye contact that is neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.
The brief conservation is predictably phatic and basic, but there was one aching thought trying to push itself to the forefront of my attention. So, unashamedly, I did it – I asked him for a photo. Cold and blunt, yet friendly and warm he assures me he “doesn’t do photos”. This is a man whose band are known for their stubbornness to journalists and photographs and also a band who used to align t-shirts with knives in their tour merchandise, of course he doesn’t do photos. Goddammit.
Iceage finally arrive on stage at just-gone 10pm to a now full sold-out 100 Club that consists of familiar faces of several members from bands such as Palma Violets, Tribes, and Spector. In a ramshackle and nonchalant setlist, Iceage opened with Let It Vanish from their new album, and the best album of the year, Plowing into the Field of Love. An unholy moshpit is simultaneously unleashed despite a perplexing pillar that is placed in the nucleus of the reckless and hyperbolic frolics. Over the course of the evening I get headbutted, punched, and some opportunistic jacket rippers try to rip my jacket. I painfully lose my earring but don’t care, for what I’m witnessing on stage is a tidy mess of perfection.
By the time that the fourth song of the evening had arrived, fan-favourite Morals, I found myself in the front row with no barrier between myself and Elias. His constant eyeballing with the crowd diverts itself to me and I wonder if he recognises me as the shameless photo hunter from earlier. He then tries and fails with a stage dive which basically means he painfully crushes my face in a highly unorthodox way. Maybe he just doesn’t like me. The game- and sound-changing The Lord’s Favourite sees me unexpectedly and embarrassingly momentarily laying on stage victim to a good old-fashion jock-fuelled mosh. I crawl off and dive back into the ruckus.
In the short-lived, true-to-punk 12 song setlist, they sneak in a raucous cover of Bahumutsi Drama Group‘s To the Comrades before leading into the lighters-up swooning album title-track Plowing into the Field of Love. As they leave the stage someone shouts “CAN’T TAKE THIS PRESSURE” into the microphone, which alludes to them coming back onto stage to play the absent Ecstasy. They don’t. Instead, louche and arrogant, they stroll back onto stage straight faced and tear through what may have been a highlight of the set, Everything Drifts. “Everything drifts, soon it’s gone / don’t find a place to stay“, Elias screams before drifting through the crowd to get some beers from the dressing room.
They may be arrogant and they may not care about anything at all, but that is the very reason why they are hands-down the coolest band on the planet right now. It’s almost certain that they are still waiting to peak, even though every album and show leaves you feeling like they have already peaked.