ICON FOR HIRE are currently on the Icon Army Tour spreading their energetic, nostalgic tracks all over Europe. The band had a stop at On The Rocks in Helsinki on 23 February 2020 and were set to play their songs for the second time in Finland. Their in 2011 released “Scripted” was an important album for me, so I immediately grabbed the opportunity to check out the band’s show. The band’s support was the Finnish alternative rock act CYAN KICKS. Check out our photo gallery here.
When it comes down to CYAN KICKS, I really didn’t know what to expect from the alternative pop-rock act. Having only heard a handful of tracks of the band, the rest of the band was a complete mystery to me. It was a great surprise to enter a fully packed On The Rocks with a band bouncing around energetically on stage as if it was their last day on earth. With her neon hairstyle, vocalist Susanna Aleksandra was definitely the center of attention. Because of her energetic performance, the beginning of her vocal performance was not as steady, but as the night progressed she regained strength and showed everyone what she’s capable of.
I can’t say I’m too familiar with CYAN KICKS‘ work, but I remember a couple of catchy songs from their setlist, such as “Satellite,” and “Riddle.” “Endgame” featured a rapper who came out for a part of the song, and then continued his path as part of the audience. I have no idea who he was, but somehow he suited the band very well, and it almost felt as if he belonged there. During the last song of their set, “Gasoline,” Aleksandra let the front row sing along with her in the microphone, much to the surprise of some of the fans. Most of them, however, knew the lyrics perfectly.
I had never had the opportunity to see ICON FOR HIRE live, so I was excited to finally be able to watch frontwoman Ariel Bloomer with her unmistakable pink locks, and guitarist Shawn Jump perform their songs together. After a short turnover and a bit of a delay, the audience replenished itself right before the gig was supposed to start. The band’s fandom, Icon Army, was a strong presence in the audience that night, right from the start when their touring drummer showed up, the crowd was getting rowdy and there was almost no way of maneuvering at the front.
ICON FOR HIRE started with the energetic “Make A Move,” and immediately enchanted the audience with their poppy rock music. Being the first song that introduced me to the band, it was a welcome surprise to have it as an opening track and it definitely did its job to warm up the crowd. Following the dynamic opener, “Pulse” kept the energy high, with Bloomer rapping for the first time. The frontwoman is definitely enchanting to watch as she wraps around the audience, and especially the front row around her finger. Plenty of times she engages with the front row, letting them sing along in her mic, smiling with them and making them bounce around the stage with her. Taking photographs in front of the stage was somewhat impossible as there was an incredible amount of fists pumping continuously in the air.
By continuing the massive amount of energy with “Cynics & Critics,” the band shows the audience what they’re made of. Throughout the performance, Ariel Bloomer would deliver messages of perseverance, acceptance, and in general, empowerment to the fans, explaining to them that the Icon Army is meant to be a safe space. These mental health-related themes are central in the band’s lyrics and made everyone there that night connected with one another. After shortly greeting the audience, Bloomer thanked CYAN KICKS for their kick-ass opening performance and introduced a brand new song “Venom” to the audience of their upcoming album, which will be released later this year.
The atmosphere of the lighting changed a little bit with “Supposed To Be,” which really suited with the song. The band played a lot of diverse songs coming from all of their albums, and in between Ariel Bloomer often spoke energetically to the audience, it’s clear that their fans have had a big impact on their music, and it feels like ICON FOR HIRE genuinely appreciate the support of the audience. Bloomer doesn’t only address challenges that come with the job, but also explains how much of importance the Icon Army is to them considering they’re an indie band. Moments like that are what make concert-going a unique and unforgettable experience to those dedicated fans. When the drummer did a drum solo, it apparently was so intense that he blew out his kick drum, so instead, the band played “Happy Hurts” as an extra solo song. Before the band dove into some of the older classics, they happily introduced another new song to us named “Blindside.”
With only one song left to play, ICON FOR HIRE chose to treat us with “Demons,” before they left the stage. The obligatory encore revealed that the band would play two more songs for us, fans of the old material got excited as the band played the energetic “Off With Her Head.” The real classic, however, was their hit “Get Well,” which also was the perfect song to end a perfect night with. All-in-all ICON FOR HIRE is a band with a strong message, who most likely have helped their fans quite a lot with their songs. It was definitely worth to have to wait almost ten years to be able to see the band perform live for the first time, let’s hope the second time will happen sooner than later!
Article and photos by Laureline Tilkin