Ok, so the “diversity week” of music shows i had planned suddenly was not looking so diverse anymore. The budding rap star we had on our schedule for tonight had PR reps who (despite reminders) proved incapable of finding the reply button for our request. I have no problem being declined to cover an artist, but not getting any response at all and one of our teams being in limbo when hey could be covering other shows. Enter Icon For Hire to the rescue!
So at noon our team broke up, our writer would stay home with her cats and pretend to do laundry. Me, I was still on a bt of a high after all the energy from Why Don’t We’s show last night, so I went looking for a gig. The Garage, the all ages venue in Burnsville is the frequent haunt of some of our photographers but I have never had covered The Garage myself. Sure enough there was a show, the bands looked like fun and thanks to a quick response from The Garage staff I was on my way.
For those not familiar with the venue. It’s a non profit incubator for youth and music. There are a couple of performance spaces, a studio, a cafe, and quite a few educational events. They even have a concert photography class taught by one of the best live music photographers in the Twin Cities (no, it’s not me, but thanks for thinking of me)
Between sets fans had an emo-singalong going. One thing I noticed was several younger kids (with hearing protection), probably with parents as fans being introduced to their music. Other Parents stayed at the Cafe leaving their offspring to rave.
We saw Minneapolis’s A Better Hand a few weeks ago as headliners, and this time they used their energy to change people state of mind from work and school to their great pop punk. Singer Zack could not make the show, so Kyle (I think) who normally plays the guitar took over as lead singer. I hadn’t seen them before, and I he had not brought it up, I would never have noticed. I am sure the band’s fans did but having someone with that much talent as backup in the band must be nice ( Please insert your own Vikings QB reference HERE).
NY band Makeout was next. As they set up, fans were still singing along to the house music even through it had stopped which brought smiles to the guys’ faces. Makeout’s style is pretty energetic Pop-punk. The band partnered with a non-profit called “Voice of the Innocent” for victims of sexual abuse and had some material at their merch table. I always appreciate if a band takes up a good cause. For one of their songs “Lisa” singer Sam Boxold asked for a volunteer Lisa from the audience. I hope she knew the song in advance as the chorus was “I hate you, Lisa”. They will be returning to the Twin Cities as part of Warped Tour in the summer. Makeout’s set grew faster and harder as it progressed leaving crowd more then ready for Icon For Hire.
Or so I thought…
Icon For Hire’s set started with a light show and then pretty much exploded on stage. Frontwoman Ariel Bloomer has a magnetic stage presence and the small venue gave fans a very tintime experience. The band has often been compared to Paramore. Sure there’s some similarities but I found then more edgy and complex with influences from a number of other genres adding to their sound. They titled their tour “Turn Your Pain Into Art” . The stage banner was made out of fan art. “Before we can talk about art, we need to talk about pain” introduced the song “under the Knife”
At one point she encourage fans to be loud “It’s all that MN nice: should I scream or should I be quiet.” Bloomer mentioned that she had been talking about writing a book for 3 years and just finished it. She wrote it for her crazy 14 year old self but also fans who are dealing with issues. She read an expert from the book about tortured artists that actually made a lot of sense (why are there no tortured biologists?). Icon For Hire continued their blend of hard and fun songs inter spaced with more intimate moments for the rest of the night. They also threw in a couple of cover songs.
The Garage has a pretty decent set of house lights but the lights Icon For Hire brought in put the light show over the top. Pair an energetic performer with good lights and you have a photographer’s paradise. Bloomers interaction with fans turned the performance into one of the most entertaining therapy sessions I have witnessed and I’m sure pretty much everyone at the Garage walked out into the night feeling better about themselves. It may be cliche to associate fans of this music genre with needing therapy it was presented n a respectful manner out of Bloomer’s personal experience and connected with the audience. When Icon For Hire will return to Minnesota, I for one will drag both of my daughters to their show – heck after hearing their music, they probably will drag me.
Set List: Pulse / Supposed to Be / Theatre (spoken) / Off With Her Head / Too Loud / Under the Knife / Iodine / Hope of Morning / Numb (Linkin Park cover) / You Can’t Kill Us / Stressed Out
(twenty one pilots cover) / Jump Around (House of Pain cover) / Make a Move Encore: Get Well / Demons