Ariel with Icon for Hire taking a breather between songs during their show in Dallas. Photo by Craig Youngblood

It was a hot Texas summer night as I pulled into the parking lot of Amplified Live in Dallas where ICON FOR HIRE and friends were set to give us an unforgettable night of Rock and Roll. walking up to the doors, I could see fans that were already making their way through the merch lines, and towards the stage waiting to get this evening started. ICON FOR HIRE is bringing some phenomenal bands with them on this tour with SUMO CYCO, and AWAKE AT LAST. This seems to have been a show that many fans have been patiently waiting to see since the announcement was made, and the stops were listed by the bands and tickets went on sale. I have been waiting to see this show since it was announced with such a stellar lineup coming to town. The crowd was growing as the time drew near for the openers SUMO CYCO was set to come and kick this insane night of music off.

One by one SUMO CYCO band members came walking out to the stage, while the crowd erupted with applause and cheering. Guitarist Matt tells the crowd to move closer as he makes his way to the front of the stage. As the band strikes the first chords Skye enters the stage and begins singing the opening song Sleep Tight. After the first song, they talk to the crowd and got set to carry us farther into their set. They continued to up the bar with every song they sang. When they kicked off into their SYSTEM OF A DOWN cover B.Y.O.B the fans immediately started swaying and jumping around to the song. They continued to obliterate our senses with their high-energy show and songs as they dove farther into the set. At a couple of points in the show, Skye gets off the stage and gets right in the middle of the crowd, and continues performing and jumping around with the fans. The fans were so excited that she joined in with them and made them a part of their show. As they wound down through their set, they sang some of their hit songs that were obviously crowd favorites like Run with the Giants, Move Mountains, and No Surrender. They closed their set out with one of their latest releases, Bystander. As they walked off the stage the fans were wishing there was still more time in their set to be fed some more amazing music.

After SUMO CYCO exits the stage, the crew readies the stage for AWAKE AT LAST to continue this astonishing night’s live music. As soon as they hit the stage the singer began singing the opening song Welcome to Life and the crowd erupted with praise. As they finished out their opening song the singer Vincent told the crowd that this was their last show of the tour, and he was glad it was with us here in Dallas. He also told them that he could feel great energy there tonight and kicked off into another one of the songs More than Animals and the whole band started moving and jumping all over the stage with an insane amount of energy. As the band was jumping all over the stage the crowd joined in and began moving and jumping along to the beat of the song. As Vincent introduced the next song, he told the crowd that it was a love song, not a mushy love song but the most important kind of love there is. He continued talking with the crowd and told them that the love he was talking about was self-love and we must learn to love ourselves first! That is where they kicked their set into another realm with Unobtainable. It was like the energy was infectious and the whole crowd began moving and singing along with the band. They followed that up with the song written during the pandemic called Bloodline and he said it was written at a time when everyone should have been helping each other and sticking together and not turning on each other but maybe it was just how we were destined to be. As they came to the end of their set, he told the fans we have one last song, and we are going to need some crowd participation with it. Vincent told them that it was called Dead Generation and is the anthem of not letting people tell us who we are going to be. In the middle of the song, the stage was rushed by the members of the other bands that were playing tricks on them with fake signs and pretending to be asleep on the stage. They all joined in and had a great last song for their final night of the tour!

One last time the crew cleared the stage and prepared it for the Headliner ICON FOR HIRE to take the stage. As that was happening the crowd of fans took this time to get drinks, pick up some merch and take a little break to get prepared to continue this insane night of Rock! The crowd started returning to the front by the stage as the time drew near for them to take the stage. While the crowd was in place and patiently waiting for the moment, they have been waiting for the lights to dim and the drummer for ICON FOR HIRE entered the stage and took his place on his throne behind the drums. He immediately kicked off into their opening song Curse or Cure heavily striking the drums, followed by their guitar player Shawn. As they were playing you could see the singer Ariel walking onto the stage singing and as soon as they were all on the stage you could feel a sudden surge of energy turn up in the crowd and everyone erupted singing along with every word to the song. Ariel and the band continued to turn it up at every song and the crowd was loving every minute of it and trying to soak up as much of it as possible. When she introduced one of their newer songs, Ready for Combat, the fans got excited and started dancing around and head banging with them. They continued through their vast catalog of amazing songs that everyone was wanting to hear.

As they worked their way through their setlist they came to Brittle and Ariel and Shawn worked the stage from side to side making every fan get a chance to have some interaction with them. After the continued assault of our senses, Ariel and Shawn sat at the front of the stage and welcomed the fans and talked about their incredible fan base known as the Icon Army. She said they are not just fans they are a family and will accept anyone that wants to be a part of this crazy family. Ariel told the fans they were going to do something a little different tonight and were going to do an acoustic song that means a lot to many people in the crowd there tonight.  She asked everyone to get their cell phones out and light up the place and sing along with her and Shawn as they started singing Happy Hurts. This is an incredible song that talks about depression and anxiety that many people deal with in their daily lives. She wanted to let them know that they are not alone, and we are all facing it and they are here for them, and we must remain strong. Ariel told the crowd that was the only break from the rock show, and they will now be continuing that for the rest of the night.

Ariel said they were now going to show us the new single of their album, The Reckoning ,that will be dropping soon named Dismantled and the Icon Army exploded with joy! They followed that up with a Papa Roach cover of Last Resort where Skye and Vincent joined them on stage to help them out and perform an insanely high-energy rendition of this song making it their own taking turns belting out the lines of the song. Ariel steps up and lets the crowd know they have one song left and we need to give them everything we have for this one called The Last One Standing and they turned the show up to an unbelievable level with the performance of this song. As they thanked the crowd, they walked off the stage and the fans immediately began chanting encore, encore! Suddenly you hear Ariel yell out to the crowd Texas are you still here and the crowd began yelling and cheering as they made their way back onto the stage and gave the crowd way more than they thought. They finished up with an intense 3 song encore and the fans loved every minute of it.

As the lights came back on and the fans began gathering at the merch booths and closing out their tabs you could see smiles and laughter everywhere you looked. It was really great getting to see this again and being able to experience an incredible live show. You could tell that all of the bands that performed tonight were excited and happy to be back where they were meant to be up on that stage performing for their fans old and new. Every one of the performers tonight wore and smile throughout the show and poured their heart and soul into their set for the fans that came to see them and enjoy the live music. This was not the first time to see the opening bands; however, it was the first time I had ever got to experience Icon for Hire and it will not be the last time to see them and look forward to the next time they come into town. It was an incredible night of sensational performances by all the bands on this tour and I would highly recommend getting to one of their shows when they come close to your hometown. Upon leaving the venue it was like your soul had been recharged by all the large amounts of energy the bands gave up during their set that night.

Words and Photos by Craig and Paula Youngblood

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