Future Islands Impress in Their Biggest Show to Date

January 9th, 2015

Future Islands – Terminal 5 – January 8, 2014

Future Islands – Terminal 5 – January 8, 2014
Future Islands’ own expectations are a motivator, fueling their quest to connect with people through their music, pushing them through gutting recording sessions and endless stretches of performances. From their listeners’ standpoint, expectations are confronted—and subsequently suspended—upon taking in a Future Islands album or live show. In essence, this duality of expectations is what’s made this Baltimore band the attraction they now are. And that phenomenon was on full display last night at a sold-out Terminal 5, the group’s biggest headlining appearance to date. “Let’s bring a little sunshine to this room,” said frontman Sam Herring. “It’s fucking cold outside.”

Future Islands’ passion comes across so strikingly that as the audience was swept up by the synth-propelled rhythmic progressions, animated by Herring’s flair and multifaceted vocal dimensions, thoughts of categorizing the music, or the swirling, kinetic atmosphere surrounding it, gave way to an irresistible visceral sensation. But one thing’s for sure: There is a dark beauty formed by their sound that has a paradoxical aching forward motion to it, like a wounded bear not stopping to rest. Plus Future Islands’ material hits on every level of what make humans respond to great music. And when all of these zones are stimulated, it’s a high particular to music—the animal that wants to pounce and flail while the sentimentalist wants to ponder.

Future Islands create the lush landscape of dance-inducing sounds, and Herring travels over and through it, providing the story as its narrator and its protagonist. He’s the chief of the campfire, telling his story, gathering everyone closer. Herring’s dancing and gesticulations somehow emphasize his voice. Prowling the edge of the stage, bowing his head and looking for faces to make eye contact with, he plead his case by singing, like someone trying to impress something deeper upon the listener than what seems to have gotten through. Herring is saying, “No, I want you to really feel what I’m talking about, beyond your indifferent nods of acknowledgement.” He’s looking for a hallelujah. And judging by the rapt exuberance of the dancing crowd looking on, his service was heard loud and clear. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante |