I have a hard time explaining how I feel before I head off to a show where I am unfamiliar with the music or artist I’m about to cover. I’m usually a bit apprehensive, excited, anxious, and overwhelmed all at the same time. When I’m asked to cover an artist that I haven’t listened to, I find it exhilarating, yet fearful. Will they live up to what I expect them to be, or will I leave the show disappointed? Will I be discouraged that they didn’t sound the same as their recordings, or will they be so good that I can’t wait to see them perform live again? So. Many. Questions. I covered Icon For Hire‘s show at El Corazon last weekend sight unseen, a band I’d heard of over the years, but not yet “heard” or seen live.
I chose not to listen to them before the show. I went in not expecting, well…anything but a great band, because let’s be honest here, the companies I get coverage requests from rarely, if ever, steer me wrong. I could discern their rank of popularity from the number of people wearing the band’s merch, reactions from the crowd throughout the entire night when the support bands mentioned them. There were screams of excitement from the crowd, and they were deafening. I also caught an earful from a few fans standing around me that just couldn’t wait for Icon For Hire to take the stage. It all furthered my anxiety.
I was not disappointed. The band was fantastic from start to finish. Even when the power went out on stage midway through their set, they managed to save the show with an acoustic version of “Happy Hurts,” the crowd singing along that blew everyone away. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was possibly planned, (as that song can be found on their acoustic EP Still Can’t Kill Us 12/18), but that magical moment really did happen spontaneously, and gave fans a glimpse of what they may not necessarily expect to see at a live show.
Icon For Hire’s lead vocalist Ariel Bloomer knows how to rock and woo a crowd. From her costume changes to her vivacious movements all across the stage, she entertained and never missed a beat. One of the more rewarding and unforgettable moments (especially for those involved) was when she asked a few women from the crowd to join her on stage to perform (as long as they knew all the words -which they did) their song “Now You Know,” about what it’s like to be a female in the music industry. Under no record label (the way they like it), they are out on tour playing 100% independent, “…with no gate keeper, it’s just raw and organic, the way music should be”.
Having now researched information on Icon For Hire, I know that I’ve missed a lot of content, previous live shows, and all the hype over the band since their start back in 2007. I won’t bore you with more words on who, what, when, why and how they are still making music. You can search it ALL up for yourselves, (interesting stuff, btw). But I will let you know that they are still fighting for the right to OWN their original music, similar to the ongoing bullsh*t that bands are finding deep within record label contracts (think Taylor Swift, Kesha, Prince, Reba McEntire, to name a few). With that being said, they took most of this year off of the stage to write and record brand new music that they have full rights to, thanks to fans who have continued to support them throughout their career. They’ve released two brand new singles in 2019, “Venom” and “Hollow,” and from the positive reaction from fans and their commitment to continue to make music no matter what the obstacle, you will definitely continue to see them release even more.
Local band Pretty Awkward joined the lineup for this one stop, and Amy Guess continues as direct support for the remainder of the tour (many dates of which have already sold out). As for my final thoughts on Icon For Hire, I’m sold. Their resumé is already quite impressive, and as for the part that may say, “fan references available by request,” count me in. I have purchased all of their music, and will definitely make a point to catch them out on tour the next time they’re here.