Iceage Garrison, Toronto ON, June16

Iceage Garrison, Toronto ON, June16
Photo: Matt Bobkin
Outside the Garrison a strange display of heat lightning could be seen penetrating through the evening clouds. It was an appropriate omen for the NXNE conclusion at the Garrison, which was capped off by the evening's special guest, Iceage. All of the stage lights were turned off before the band made their way up, leaving them to play in darkness. Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt repeated his request from the night before to have no photographers in the front row. Rønnenfelt then played guitar for about the first 30 seconds of "Ecstasy" before putting it down for the remainder of the set to focus on his vocal duties.

In spite of Rønnenfelt's request, camera flashes flickered throughout the performance, each time briefly highlighting the singer's angst-ridden and sulking appearance. Through the darkness you almost get the impression that the band are allergic to light as they power through their apocalyptic punk while remaining fairly still, staring mostly at their instruments and absolutely never smiling. Rønnenfelt truly does become the main attraction on his own, and I'm not sure if the cameras were making him angry, but his performance seemed to grow more enraged as the show went on as if the flashing lights were provoking a caged beast.

At times the line between Rønnenfelt's stage persona and his actual person feels blurred and that's when Iceage begin to sound truly dangerous. At the end of the set he walked off the stage and straight out of the Garrison through the crowd immediately. He looked very unimpressed, but somehow you get the feeling that somewhere beneath that sinister frown, Rønnenfelt is entirely pleased with himself.