Icon for Hire
with Assuming We Survive, October Sky, Broken Streetlights
BackBooth; Orlando, FL • 5.25.17
by Christopher Long
From fabulous teenage girlies with faded DIY died coifs to sympathetic soccer moms sporting snug-fitting plain pockets, to middle-age creepers trying desperately to just blend in, the 200+ crowd pressing against the tiny BackBooth stage was as eclectic as the four-band collective set to rock on the stage. 7:20 – Showtime!
A relative newcomer on the Central Florida scene, Broken Streetlights returned to the popular downtown nightspot for another high-energy opening act appearance. This time performing with all five of its members, the band’s 20-minute set featured choice selections from their recently released debut EP, Shipworks. Greg Christovich proved an effective and entertaining frontman – connecting quickly with the early bird crowd and eliciting a raucous response.
“Are you guys ready to party?” singer / guitarist Karl Raymond inquired enthusiastically as October Sky took the stage at 8pm. Well-received, the industrial-tinged, two-piece combo leaned on their most recent record, 2015’s Rise during the 25-minute performance. And from the computer screen-type dealio built into Raymond’s guitar to the impressive-looking rack of electro gadgetry operated by drummer Alex Racine, the Montreal-based duo could easily have been mistaken for a couple of misplaced guys from over at Mission Control. “Let’s make some noise!” Raymond commanded, as he and Racine brought the set to an energized crescendo – amid a pit-full of spirited fist-pumping and jump-jump-jumping.
The lighthearted round of pre-set pat-a-cake between animated frontman Adrian Estrella and a young chickadee in the front row indicated that Assuming We Survive would likely be a lot of fun. And they were. “How ya fuckin’ doin’?” – Estrella posed the obligatory question post haste. And in short order, the California-based crew had whipped the O-town crowd into a bona fide frenzy with a barrage of break-neck tunes that combined pop core-type hookiness with punk-style cred. Focusing on the band’s latest release, All Roads Lead Home, the set featured such fan faves as “Next to Me” and the crowd sing-along “No Fairy Tale.” The ferocious 40-minute soirée also saw Estrella leaping from center stage, through the pit, onto the bar, and back to center stage again – just in time to offer a few show-closing words of life encouragement to potentially troubled teenage fans.
Even if it requires hiring a couple of pseudo players to just look cool onstage while going through the motions to a backing track, an authentic world-class rock band should at least look like an authentic world-class rock band. Icon for Hire once did. They don’t anymore – not after downsizing recently to a duo.
For all their flailing pink hair extensions and Hot Topic-inspired “rocker” fashions, founding frontchick Ariel Bloomer and co-founding guitarist Shawn Jump have become mere parodies of their past “god-like” personas – now as compelling to watch as a couple of carnies competing at a karaoke contest. Although newly-recruited former Falling in Reverse drummer Ryan Seaman is an undeniable badass, neither his awesome chops nor his super-cool glow-in-the-dark kit could distract from the glaring fact that most of this “live” 60-minute, career-spanning cavalcade of hits was canned content. And Bloomer’s in-between-song banter felt robotic and insincere – “I wish we could come here and do this with you every night!” she offered, brimming with Cher-caliber conviction. However, the stripped-down, unplugged version of “Make a Move” did provide a refreshing and straight-up legit highlight.
But be sure, the pre-recorded tracks, awkward white girl rapping, goofy-looking weaves and fan-pandering all seemed to suit the discerning die-hards just fine, as the “intimate”-sized Florida flock cheered with delight from start to finish.