By Hannah Morrison
Sunday’s stormy skies paired perfectly with the darkly mellow tones of Iceage’s stellar new album, Beyondless, and set the ideal ambiance for their show at Denver’s Bluebird Theater. Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark; the band have been one of my favorites since I discovered their 2014 release, Plowing Into the Field of Love, and I was more than excited to finally see them live.
The opener was Mary Lattimore, a Los Angeles based harpist, and at first I was somewhat confused about how her instrumental solo music related to Iceage’s full-band punk rock. Yet from the very first note she played until the end of her 45-minute set, I was completely blown away. Using only her harp and the effects pedal in her lap, Lattimore wove captured loops and gorgeous tones together in an incredibly ethereal dreamscape of sound. I would almost describe her music as post-rock, and parts of her set reminded me of Explosions in the Sky, my favorite act in that genre. Her performance was healing, emotional, and fully immersive. On the surface, Lattimore’s sound was vastly different from Iceage’s, but it ultimately held the same dark-edged depth that made Beyondless so compelling and proved her place as the band’s perfect tour partner. Her stage presence was as wonderful as her sound, and she came across as both passionate and down-to-earth as she shared her varied sources of inspiration from the story of astronaut Scott Kelly to her memories of the beach she used to frequent while living in Philadelphia.
Iceage took the stage soon after, coming on in darkness to the sound of a single violin before launching full-force into the opening track from their new release, “Hurrah.” Clad in a tan linen suit, frontman Elias Rønnenfelt lunged into the song and around the stage with a sulky, brooding intensity, immediately commanding the audience’s attention to both his presence and the band’s as a whole. Their set focused mostly on the more post-punk selections from Beyondless, but they threw in a nice amount of songs from earlier records that more closely represented their original fast-paced and anxiety-ridden sound. Older highlights included “White Rune,” “The Lord’s Favorite,” “Ecstasy,” and “On My Fingers.” One of my favorite parts of the show was when the band performed “Beyondless” and “Plowing Into the Field of Love” back-to-back. Both title tracks close out their respective albums, and are strongly representative of Iceage’s ability to create catharsis as well as chaos. The band poured heaping amounts of raw energy into every single moment of their set, and it was an extremely powerful thing to watch. They recovered smoothly even after a vocal mic glitch between “Beyondless” and “Catch It,” and the set overall was the perfect amalgamation of mesmerizing guitar tones with sharp edges of unease and Rønnenfelt’s vicious vocals.
The only downside to the evening’s show was the small size of the crowd, and it felt like the energy in the audience was an insufficient complement to the powerful effort that the band put forth. Iceage completely deserved a crowd that was in it for the long haul, and somehow we fell just a little short.
I left the Bluebird on Sunday with my love of Iceage even more cemented, and I would jump at the chance to watch them play again—especially if I could travel back in time and see them somewhere a little more intimate.