This is an orbituary to a person who claimed ‘I do like quite a lot of music, just, you know, not screamo and hardcore and stuff like that.’ To clarify, I write from the perspective of someone who had a hard time reconciling seemingly voiceless screaming and noise with the idea of enjoyable music. The band who managed to achieve this impossible feat are tremendously underrated LA rockers The Icarus Line. I had the fortune of catching the ‘best Rock’n’Roll band in the world’ in the middle of their EU&UK tour in support of their new album Slave Vows.
I’ll rewind this to a point of the evening where I still needed convincing. Upon entering the downstairs of the Shipping Forecast, ‘The Hold’, with its raw ceiling, bare walls and scarce lighting, one might realise that there actually is few if any better venues for this kind of music.
Opening act F.O.E.S. pleased with energetic and melodic, if at times slightly repetitive, rock tunes before handing the stage to second support act Brawlers. The latter delivered equally explosive songs and entertained the crowd with a seemingly hyperactive frontman who spilled more beer than he drank and punched brick walls.
Talking of crowds. The Hold is itself a rather small venue that can barely accommodate more than a hundred people when absolutely crammed. Considering that tonight it played host to a band with a history of selling out venues multiple times its size, it is shocking that it was filled to maybe a fifth of its capacity by the time the main act was about to come on stage. For its small size it was a decent crowd that did not have to be asked twice when a lanky Joe Cardamone beckoned everyone to come closer to the stage.
With opener ‘Laying Down for the Man’ followed by the stomping riffs of ‘Don’t Let Me Save Your Soul’ he then, mercilessly, threw the more or less innocent onlookers into a sea of sound in the storms and towering waves of which everyone gladly drowned for the rest of the set.Throughout the show the Californian five-piece cemented their claim to being the best band out there you probably haven’t heard of by using a mixture of sheer power, riffs far beyond the borders of brilliance and eccentric yet passionate and truthful performance.
When Cardamone’s shirt came off button by button during the course of the set it was no pretentious ‘Hey, look at my sixpack’ move, but instead you wondered how he managed to keep it on for so long without suffering heatstroke. With virtually no space at all between stage and audience his almost trance-like convulsions, venting the full force of his songs directly into your face, this gig was an incredibly intense and intimate experience, grounds enough for my claim that however brilliant their records are by themselves, The Icarus Line need to be seen live.
I wonder whether these guys actually know how alarmingly underrated they are; if they do, they take it with dignity as after the gig they seemed in the best possible spirits, chatted with the audience around their merch table or fell into the enviably soft looking sofa in what can only be called The Hold’s makeshift backstage area.Even though my road might never lead me headbanging into death metal moshpits, I am glad I stumbled over The Icarus Line, and should they ever return I will go and see them again. Next time hopefully with hundreds of other people.