Ah, the glorious glitz and glamour of life on the road…

4:30pm: Weary-looking and bleary-eyed, she tumbled out of the passenger van positioned conveniently in front of The Abbey’s main entrance. Sporting an oversized knit ski cap and hidden behind huge, dark shades, the petite 24-year-old drummer almost slipped by unrecognized, as she staggered from the sidewalk to the venue’s ladies’ room and back out to the dirt-covered vessel with Ontario plates.

5:00pm: Boasting a distinctive, half-bleached coif, the tall, dark-skinned 20-something was chatting up a couple of early birds who already had begun lining along Pine Street — the “All-Access” laminate dangling from his belt loop flapped in the springtime breeze as the rather cordial bass player bummed a smoke from a generous, random fan.

Watch Courage My Love’s official video for the single “Stereo” just below.

5:30pm: Strands of pink hair poked out the sides of her black hoodie like sticky-sweet cotton candy as she tiptoed from behind the club — stealth-like. And under the supervision of a watchful security guy, the 28-year-old singer then darted off into a secluded nearby parking area — cell phone pressed tightly to her face. Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?

8:00pm: The show playing out offstage now had been upstaged by the show playing out onstage. And what an impressive, explosive production it was.

“MAKE SOME NOISE ORLANDO,” commanded irresistible 24-year-old frontchick / guitarist, Mercedes Arn-Horn, as Courage My Love stormed the soiree — kicking off with the infectious fan fave, “Animal Heart.” Arguably the hardest-working kids on today’s rock scene, the Canadian combo has toured the planet relentlessly since embarking on last summer’s U.S. Warped Tour — yet they forge ahead, possessing all the gusto, drive and determination of the Energizer Bunny.

This is MAKEOUT’s “Crazy” music video.

Fueled by the fire of drummer, Phoenix Arn-Horn, and driven by the rock-ribbed swagger of bassist, Brandon Lockwood, the Courage My Love cavalcade was culled entirely from the band’s latest record, Synesthesia. The sizzling 30-minute set also included “Love Hurts,” “Need Someone” and the oft-played video single, “Stereo.” Equally noteworthy — the number of Courage My Love fans gobbling-up VINYL copies of Synesthesia at the band’s after-show, merch table meet-and-greet. #HopeForTheFuture

Frontman/guitarist, Sam Boxold, proved engaging, connecting quickly with the 200+ O-Town fans as his Massachusetts-based brigade, Makeout, hit the stage at around 9pm. Oozing pop/punk panache, the four-piece troupe sliced-up savory selections from their 2017 debut record, The Good Life. The six-week 2018 spring tour effectively served as a precursor for the band’s upcoming 2018 summer Warped Tour stint.

Delivering a massive, arena-caliber light show, the Icon For Hire presentation was a retina-burning affair. With her pink-dyed, shoulder-length coif and a form-fitting, Gene Simmons circa ‘76-meets-Jon Bon Jovi circa ‘86-inspired body suit, co-founding frontchick, Ariel Bloomer, looked simply stunning. While Bloomer’s longtime musical partner, guitarist Shawn Jump, also was dressed to dazzle in a white leather jacket, complemented by airbrushed white skinny jeans, drummer Ryan Seaman merely did what he does best — crush, kill and destroy.

Check out the video form Icon For Hire’s single “Supposed To Be” below.

Packed with non-stop crowd-pleasers, the hour-long set featured an array of such career-spanning staples as the opening number, “Pulse,” from the 2016 album, You Can’t Kill Us and “Off With Her Head,” from the band’s 2011 debut, Scripted. Along the way, fans also were treated to several rousing cover tunes, including “Numb,” a heartfelt tribute to the late Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington.

“Hey, look what I did,” Bloomer announced gleefully as she held a copy of her just-released debut memoir, Turn Your Pain Into Art, high above her head. In short order, Bloomer shared an excerpt from the recent Amazon bestseller — a riveting read that reveals her personal experiences of battling and rising above life’s challenges.

Icon for Hire wrapped up the shebang on a super-fun, super-high note with a spirited salute to retro hip-hop and a raucous rendition of their signature hit, “Make a Move” — a crashing crescendo that prompted one enthusiastic and sweaty front row female teen to comment, “WOW — now, THAT was a GREAT show!”


Christopher Long is a celebrated author, entertainment writer, TV / radio contributor, award-winning musician, popular speaker and international missionary. Referred to once as "the rock and roll Erma Bombeck," Long is known for his conversational, common sense writing style and possessing a passion for sharing his unique perspectives on pop culture, faith and politics. Raised in Missouri's rugged Ozark Mountains and on Florida's sunny Space Coast, Long currently lives near Cocoa Beach. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)