Last night the place to be was NYC’s Cake Shop for an intimate performance by London’s buzz band Test Icicles. This is the type of band that makes you ponder what we exactly consider punk rock to be in 2005. This trio is a loud, young group of dudes that play tunes that are just as catchy as they are frightening. They mash together the screams of the Blood Brothers with surprisingly poppy hooks and violent electronic beats a la Atari Teenage Riot. With their don’t give a fuck attitude and intense live shows, this band definitely has punk running through their veins.
I first saw Test Icicles a few months ago at the FADER party during CMJ. They were completely off the hook, rocking musical chaos on stage that somehow eventually organized into some impressive tunes. Last night the band was a bit more focused, ripping through a good portion of their debut album For Screening Purposes Only. In fact, I noticed that a couple of the dudes were still wearing their [adult swim] t-shirts and watches that they snagged from that CMJ party.
The packed room, reeking of sweat and booze, erupted when the band launched into their set. The Cake Shop’s walls almost seemed to shake from the crunchy blasts of Digital Hardcore-flavored drum machines and screaming guitars. This is a band that will single handedly revive the dance-punk genre, which up until now has grown tired and clichéd. You can’t help but bounce around during “Your Biggest Mistake”, as your eardrums are kicked around ninja-style by some of the sickest drum programming and crazed guitar licks I’ve heard in ages.
“Boa Vs Python” took the show up several notches, with frontman Sam Merrann’s screams so intense he will soon be the envy of every post-hardcore/screamo vocalist on the planet. They aren’t all just wailing guitars and screeching vocals, with “Circle Square Triangle” showing off this band’s knack for writing damn good pop songs. With a near disco beat and an irresistible melody, this shows a band that can compete with bands such as Bloc Party just much as with LCD Soundsystem and Moving Units. The ass-shaking beats sent the room crazy while the group chanted “we can do without more poison.”
The set ended with quite possibly the most intense live rock song in their repertoire, “Catch It”. This insane mess of a tune blazed through more tempo changes and guitar licks in under 3 minutes than most bands accomplish in an entire album. Speed-metal drums and sick guitars pounded away as the song slowly dissolved into a chaotic mess. These three lads from London definitely lived up to their hype. To catch a sample of what these mad scientists have created in their musical laboratory, run out and snag a copy of their Boa Vs. Python EP, out now on Domino.