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Future Islands Bring the Heat

December 2nd, 2011

Future Islands – The Bowery Ballroom – December 1, 2011

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Samuel T. Herring, the lead singer of Future Islands, is without a doubt the hardest workingman in post-Wave, and he proved it at The Bowery Ballroom last night. Breaking into a dripping sweat just one song into the set, Herring poured his everything into each word he sang—and it visibly showed. At times sitting on his knees before the front row like he was making a desperate plea, other times gesturing wildly like he was ripping out his own heart and handing it off to the dancing crowd for the taking, Herring’s showmanship only added to the poetry of his songwriting.

And that voice. While Herring’s uniquely soulful crooning might be the first thing to stick out on Future Islands’ recordings—it absolutely defines the band’s live performance—transitioning from throaty growls to strained high-pitched proclamations seemed to all but suck the oxygen out of the packed room. All this was set to the backdrop of William Cashion’s rolling bass and Gerrit Welmers’ keyboard and synth lines that kept the crowd in motion.“This means a lot to us and I don’t know what to say,” said Herring halfway through the set. His ear-to-ear grin showed genuine disbelief that the group was performing before a wildly enthusiastic crowd in a sold-out venue.

Following opening acts Zomes and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, it was an impressive showing for the well-established and ever-expanding Baltimore music scene, with all three bands hailing from Charm City. Set highlights included the opening song, “An Apology,” a high-energy rendition of “Tin Man” and “Before the Bridge.” At the chorus of “Before the Bridge,” Herring stuck his finger out to the audience during refrains of “Do you believe in love?” like he was personally asking them to believe. If they didn’t already, this heartfelt performance might have been just enough to push them over the edge. —Dan Rickershauser