One of the most critically beloved new acts to emerge from the punk sphere in recent years, particularly because they’ve bucked what their interpretation of punk is at every turn, Danish group Iceage are riding high on the praise for their new fourth album Beyondness. Returning to Nashville after an electrifying turn at The End a few years back, the band will headline Mercy Lounge tonight, May 21, and are bringing with them Philly artsy noise punks Empath and promising Chicago up and coming indie act Deeper. It’s a stacked bill and a must-see for fans of artsy, smart, substantive post-punk, indie, and art rock, and tickets are still available right here. Read more about the show!
Formed a decade ago as teens in Copenhagen, Denmark, Iceage erupted onto the scene with their noisy, hardcore, and defiant debut, New Brigade, in 2011. Embraced by both discerning critics and punk rock elder statesmen, as well as young fans and the broader musical community at large, the band have been acclaimed for their reluctance to simply ape prior punk trends, subverting the basic tenants of the genre and forging their sound however they see fit from record to record. By 2013 sophomore effort You’re Nothing, the band had inked a deal with Matador and attracted broader critical attention, distilling their youthful energy and raw punk prowess into something with a bit more post-punk flair. 2014’s Plowing into the Field of Love was a further departure from their hardcore roots, and managed to land as a substantive, art punk work of critical brilliance, without shedding the cred or bite the band had become known for, serving as a confident transition into mid-20-somethings and a template for works to come. And the group’s brand new fourth album, Beyondness, subverts expectations once more, building heavily on the literary, intellectual undercurrent they’ve always maintained, while exploring an ambitious, more blissful, and expertly honed new sonic territory, without losing the brash template on which their sound is built. Iceage are an enigmatic outfit, and perhaps exactly the punk band millennials needs, if punk is to survive and evolve in the ever-changing musical landscape. A wild and defiant live force, their impressive catalogue is best experienced live, and while the smallest, grungiest space is ideal, Mercy Lounge is still intimate enough to host one hell of a show.
Since springing out of Philly’s communal, queer, underground DIY punk scene a couple years ago, lo-fi noise rock and art punk outfit Empath have asserted themselves as an exciting new group to watch. The unabashedly sensitive (the name isn’t ironic), pop friendly, new age loving band followed up a series of cool early EPs with a recent cassette release, Liberating Guilt and Fear, which finds an impressive balance between manic punk assertiveness and more subdued art and pop-tinged experimentation. They’re not particularly directly similar to Iceage (there’s definitely less hardcore or post-punk at play), but clearly they’re cut from a similar musical and ideologically upbringing, and exist as well outside of the mainstream bubble, as a group unconcerned with genre or expectations, and one you should certainly be dialed into.
While they technically came together in 2014, early abrupt lineup shifts and change in musical focus led Chicago indie punks Deeper to revamp their sound throughout 2015 and 2016, with single “Transmogrified” managing to attract early attention with its jangly, reverb-drenched, dreamy, post-punk and shoegaze influences. After a couple of years of DIY touring and rising through the ranks of the Chicago underground punk and art scene, the band are prepping to release their eponymous, full-length debut later this month. The handful of singles out so far are pretty stellar, and while the least conventionally “punk” act on the bill, they’re a nice compliment, and a cool chance to see a promising new act before anyone else.
Iceage, Empath, and Deeper will perform tonight, May 21 at Mercy Lounge. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $15.