It has been a very good year Future Islands in fact it has been a tremendous year. Despite making and playing a unique form of electo-pop groove for over 10 years, it was the release of the most recent album Singles that finally gained these three unlikely rock-stars from Baltimore all the attention they deserved. Musically accomplished in skill and uniqueness, it is front man Samuel T. Herring that makes their fondness that little more appealing. You think you know how to cut some rug? Well, think twice, as you haven’t witnessed Future Islands.
It feels a little like groundhog day when attending gigs in Melbourne, most semi-popular bands always play the stage at Corner Hotel, so like any other gig night, the doors open at 8pm and the punters slowly drizzle in on what will be a packed full sold out show. Getting there a little early to support the support act, Mossy take the stage to a simmering audience and burst into a powerfully confident set. This is a band I know very little about (and hard to find anything about), but live they pull out some pretty big punches with a full sound that comes across like one big mix of British inspired swagger bands. I cant help think back on my Primal Scream days with the sometimes groove of The Verve and for me, a band that I actually quite adored back in the 90s called Regular Fries
A great live band all in all despite a visual sense of disconnection and lack of contact between each band member, perhaps it was just nerves. What makes Mossy enjoyable to listen too is the solid sound that comes from sample beats (they have no drummer), general samples, mixing and frequencies by one of the members, it really holds it all together to a rather steady flow. Some definite stand out tracks, strong vocals, nice guitar licks and excellent samples make them a band to check out sometimeBut of course, it is not Mossy we are here to take up your time with but the Internet success story that is Future Islands. For those who do not know, Future Islands, or should we say Samuel T Herring made a name for himself as the overtly passionate and emotive dancer who song some 80s inspired synth pop song, supported by some average joes who play along. Google Future Islands and the first hit is this:
The band performing their hugely successful Seasons. It pretty much speaks for itself and tonight this is exactly what we get, a backing band who are perfectly tight and somewhat contrasting in emotion, taking a massive step back while Herring just lets absolute loose on stage and gives 150%. By track three, the man is dripping in sweat and all I keep thinking is will he do a costume change. He does not, there is no time, instead he belts out song after song, beating his chest, swallowing his, throwing himself to the ground, and grinding his hips…you get the idea. It is quite a spectacle to watch and truly one of a kind.
The set covers a sweat splattering collection of songs from all 3 albums and clearly the punters here tonight no more than just their latest album, although many, like me really only recently jumped the bandwagon recently.
Herrings vocal range is quite something too as he carries us through soft harmonies, grunts, baritone and right down to the deep pits of his growl that would best be suited fronting a death metal band, it is quite disturbing to hear but rolled in with some rolling basslines and synth pop sounds, it melds together oddly well.
Spirit, their latest single closes the back to back set before a dripping wet Herring bows to the audience and leaves the stage, I think the others left shortly after. I guess that is the thing, you don’t really notice the others so begs the question, what would they be without such a charismatic front man.
After the usual chanting and yells that we expect from an encore the band grace the stage for a few more tracks and it appears that this was slightly unplanned as one song becomes a nod to do another, followed by a final nod to do a third, perhaps due to the fact that it was their final show before heading home. Closing with Little Dreamer from their debut album, a nice calming way for all of us to get a good nights rest, feeling spent after watching a man give it his all.
Leaving the gig, I was quite adamant that I witnessed a brilliant show but as I write this, think back on the night and re-watch the clip above, it gets me thinking, how much of this performance is stage, every move appeared calculated and considered, so I am just not too sure now. Passion for performance comes from the heart but how much of it really does with Future Islands? It was going to be an 8 but after Ill take of those lambs back and reserve them for when the band release album 4.
Artist – Future Islands
Venue – Corner Hotel
All images courtesy of The Wandering Lamb