I used to be a right gig girl, in a 5 year span I think I went to over 60 gigs, that changed once I got my first proper full time job a year and a half ago (boo adulthood) and have only been to a handful of gigs since then. Going to gigs was one of my biggest passion for years and it feels so good to be back on the scene and be able to write about it too.
Just a bit of background info for any of you who are not familiar with IFH (Icon For Hire), they were formed in 2007 by Ariel Bloomer and Shaun Jump in Decatur, Illinois, and choosing their name as a satirical comment on the state of the music industry. Icon signed to Tooth & Nail records and released their debut album Scripted in 2011, the album made it onto the US Billboard charts. In 2013 their self-titled album was released and made it to No. 66 on the Billboard charts too. June 2015 saw IFH break their contract and leave Tooth & Nail records to go independent due to technical and creative differences. The band announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their new album which raised $127,200, the album ‘You Can’t Kill Us’ was released in November 2016. This ‘Turn Your Art Into Pain’ tour is half gig and half book tour for Ariel who released her self help book of the same name in January. This is only Icon For Hire’s second UK tour in the 11 years since their formation and their first UK headline tour which made the gig even more special!
Icon For Hire only had one support act called Riot Child who hail originally from Stockholm, Sweden but now live in Los Angeles. Riot Child consists of Amanda and Alice, who between them play bass, drums, keyboard, and sing. I went to the gig not even bothering to look up the support band, but man was I pleasantly surprised! Amanda’s husky powerhouse vocals mixed so well with their pop punk and electronic music. They remind me of a mix between Rews and Royal Blood, definitely a band I will be keeping an eye on!
Icon For Hire were honestly amazing. The whole gig was a massive emotional rollarcoaster ride, one minute talking about Mental Health to the next literally jumping around to a cover of Jump Around by House of Pain. The setlist was incredible, there was a mix of songs from all the albums, all the favourites plus three covers. The opening song was Pulse from Icon’s most recent album, it’s such a fast paced song with a catchy chorus that got the crowd pumped and ready to go.
During the song Iodine Ariel came on to the stage in a massive light up coat, she began to speak about how to coat represents her depression and how although it’s an awful thing to have, it keeps her ‘warm’ and safe as it’s all she’s ever known. It was such a powerful statement, everyone in the crowd just stopped and listened to the words she was saying.
Depression is like a big fur coat, it’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm.
Half way through the set Ariel asked us to shine our lighters or phone torches onto the stage while Shaun received his acoustic guitar, they then began to talk about why there is a reason for the term ‘tortured artists’, as many creatives have dealt with mental health problems in their lives. Ariel explained that the rock community lost a mental health fighter last year.. Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. They both sang the most beautiful tribute to Chester by playing his song Numb from Linkin Park’s album Meteora. They encouraged all us fans to sing with them, as you can see from the video below that I filmed from the gig, it was honestly really emotional for all of us.
To get us pumped after the emotional rendition of Numb, Icon sang a snippet of their song ‘You Can’t Kill Us’ as a massive “Fuck You” to depression. Following ‘You Can’t Kill Us’, Shaun showed off his impressive guitar skills while their current drummer Ryan blasted out some drum beats then got straight into the next song which was a cover of Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots mixed with House of Pain’s Jump Around. I may be biased, but the next part of the gig was one of my favourites. Icon went straight back to 2011 and played both of my favourite songs from their album Scripted, these were Make a Move and Get Well. Get Well has resonated with me since the first time I heard it, it is definitely in my top 5 songs that changed my life, it was an absolute joy to hear it live and I could tell Ariel is so passionate about what the song symbolises.
In a nutshell, Ariel and Shaun radiate passion and love for their band and fans. They are strong fighters aiding Mental Health awareness and are giving people a voice to express their deepest fears and desires. I think this gig will always hold a special place in my heart and I urge anyone who is a fan to snap up a ticket super quick for the next time they tour!