Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt Delivers Us

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Iceage; photo by Bryan C. Parker

The sun was out, there were few clouds if any, and spirits were high Saturday afternoon at Fun Fun Fun Fest. I had just finished a ride with Gary Numan at the Blue Stage where his incredible industrial set was bolstered with an enthusiastic performance by Numan that had him jumping, thrusting, spinning, kicking, sneering, and snickering over the large stage. I made my way over the Black Stage and found four Danes ready to launch into their youthfully emotional set that demonstrated a seriousness that paired well with Numan’s before. Another job well done for the hometown festival. Their focus on quality talent across all three stages give the diverse crowd plenty of opportunities to discover new indie bands that cross genres and invade our hearts.

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Iceage; photo by Bryan C. Parker

All four members are born after 1990 but display a level of grace in the persistent grief in which they wallow. Lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sullenly mopes around the stage, finding different spots to mutter and curse. Like Holden Caulfield reincarnated into a Danish 22-year-old, Rønnenfelt appears to be on the verge of tears, always fueled by a raging violence. His backing band stays tight and angular, giving Rønnenfelt plenty of glassy reverb to wax poetically depressed. The band breaks down the groove to its most bare essentials and focuses on the syncopated angularities, giving the music a jarring detachment from the listener who struggles to feel in a familiar spot. The young men have a penchant for disarming the listener, luring them in close with confusing rhythms and dissonant vocals, only to suck you in close enough so they can grab you and pull you in close, baring their bleeding hearts on their sleeves, and then pushing you away and wanting nothing more to do with you.

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Iceage; photo by Bryan C. Parker

The setting was at the beginning of the set was a bit unfitting, given the bright sun mostly. But as the band carried on, the fall sun began to set quickly, casting a warm orange glow while the wind carried a chill that signaled the oncoming cool night air. Iceage draws on influences like Cap’n Jazz and even some bizarre psychobilly country jams as evidenced by the new “The Lord’s Favorite” off the new Plowing Into the Field of Love out on Matador Records. Read about it here; we loved it. While cold and distant may be words that come to mind when one hears the word Iceage, the band’s honesty and raw emotion give each listener an opportunity to vicariously experience emotions that we may have once felt and wish to explore again, but only for a brief time considering the pain and grief it once held. It may seem overwhelming for Rønnenfelt to live as that conduit of intense feels, but he does so with a knowing playfulness that can only be a defense mechanism to cope with that serious nature that lies beneath.

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