Sam Herring, the frontman of Future Islands, is a madman in the best way. Future Islands played to a packed house at Bowery Ballroom, creating an energy level that kept building and building to intense proportions. Herring started off with bounds of energy immediately, striking like a snake at the crowd and bobbing and weaving all over the stage with fancy footwork. He used the stage to the fullest, and got right in the faces of everyone in the front. By the end of the set, the front had become the splash zone for getting sweat dripped on you, but that did nothing to dissuade fans from reaching their hands up as far as they could and screaming for more.
Herring, along with bassist William Cashion and keyboardist Gerrit Welmers played mostly songs off the new album, On the Water, as expected, with a few other gems on the setlist. They played a new one, “Tomorrow,” that Herring described as a new song with old soul. He growled and crooned lyrics of frustrating heartbreak, while looking both pained and satisfied. The way he took his sincere emotion and played it up further for his performance was incredibly intriguing to watch. He knew he had a captive audience, and fed off it to the fullest. Girls were screaming when he was pounding his heart and pounding the stage, and guys were giving him fist pounds. The more response he got, the more emotion he gave. It was a great give and take, and he gave it to everyone good. Below is a clip of "Before the Bridge" to serve as a taste of the intensity, despite the blown out sound.
Every time Herring announced what song they were playing next, everyone screamed in approval. “Before the Bridge” and “Tin Man” are a couple of the songs that received considerable responses, but not as much as the appropriate closer, “Vireo’s Eye.” That’s when the entirety of Bowery Ballroom erupted into a pit of dance. Fans were handing Herring signs hand-made with marker and calling out to represent North Carolina, where Future Islands are originally from. It was no doubt that the band would have to play an encore. The first song they came back with had been a request from one of the magic marker signs: “Beach Foam.” Future Islands were there to make people’s night and put on a show to remember, and that’s exactly what they did. The last song was an old song of theirs, “Little Dreamer.” Herring told us this was a happy song 4 years ago, but now it’s a sad song. This turned out to be the most outwardly emotional delivery yet from him, as he looked completely pained when he wasn’t singing. It was almost like watching a grown man cry, except that he snapped right back to his vocals on the beat with absolute strength, never actually shedding a tear.
Herring had joked earlier in the set about Future Islands fans being unemployed, and he not having a real job either. “You guys know anyone hiring?” he asked. “Who knows how long this shit is going to last…nah I’m just having fun with you guys.” The playful joke was well understood. Between Welmers’ blessed out beats, Cashion’s driving bass, and Herring’s intensely soulful performance, none of these guys have anything to worry about in the foreseeable future.
Future Islands are now makign their way back down to their home base of Baltimore, before continuing their tour across the water in Europe. If you haven't heard the new album yet, it's one of the best of the year. Pick it up, and go like them on Facebook while youre at it.