Iceage Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, June 15

Iceage Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, June 15
Photo: Matt Bobkin
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Messing about is not a top priority for Danish punks Iceage. During soundcheck, singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt forewarned photographers to scatter from stage front ("It's distracting") and, despite stonily agreeing to shake hands with select front row residents, he did not seem all that impressed when one returned for seconds. Still, his heavily-styled appearance suggested an element of self-consciousness which, if you like, could give the band an otherwise lacking humanity.

The set took off with "Ecstasy," a melodic brute of emotional and sonic ingenuity. Time changes that could go unnoticed on record took a stomach-squeezing forcefulness, thundering grooves T-boned by unintuitive rhythmic pivots. Unassumingly placid and apparently finding immense fascination in the floor, the band members were technically exceptional but ultimately little more than Rønnenfelt's decoration, his faintly sexual body contortions framing a face of such defiantly sultry anguish it could stop traffic. The mid-set placement of a downtempo waltz could have interrupted proceedings, but instead felt like the mark of a band conquering expectations on their own terms.