Future Islands Played Their Biggest U.S. Headlining Show at Terminal 5
It's been a whirlwind for Baltimore synth-rock outfit Future Islands who have risen from a solid support act to a bonafide concert hall headliner. Those figurative winds were absolutely whipping with the hellacious walk to Terminal 5 in New York City, requiring at least four Manhattan avenues of walking in 15-degree weather. That didn't stop a sold out crowd from filling the three level converted warehouse, though.
Wing Dam and Operators opened the night with the latter fronted by Dan Boeckner, fresh off a year of touring with Spoon's Britt Daniel as Divine Fits. Operators are decidedly more synth and dance-driven with Boeckner handling the keys one moment while up strumming his guitar in the next breath. The impressive new band, with an EP out last year, was also backed by Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy for the majority of the set who was severely less menacing, but just as powerful. Several cries of "We love you Meredith" were made throughout the crowd.
Than it was time for Future Islands who strode on stage without much of an opening explosion, quietly taking their instruments with front-madman Samuel T. Herring doing his best version of what we've come to expect of him over the years. Before briefly thanking the crowd for braving the cold, the band kicked into 'Back In the Tall Grass' with its rolling bass line kicking off a night of impassioned dancing, kicking, lunging, and posturing from Herring.
Herring's demeanor is still new to a lot of people, many of whom are responsible for Future Islands being able to sell out two nights at Terminal 5 -- so the transcendent lens through which one can truly enjoy his heart and soul bearing was lost on many who openly guffawed at his growls and air humping. Not that it isn't entertaining -- it is, but the talking after the laughing was entirely mean-spirited and way too loud.
(Terminal 5 is made for EDM and jam shows where the focus isn't so much on actually watching the band. If the show sells out, you are not guaranteed a sight line or an area of the venue where the sound is louder than the person speaking next you. The no sight lines encourage over-drinking which leads to people trying to crowd surf to 'Walking Through That Door' to get to the front.)
"Hey, we want you to dance with us and have a good time, but don't do anything that's going to make them kick you out," Herring said in one way or another more than once. Listen to 'Singles' and imagine people trying to crowd surf and mosh at a non-festival concert.
The crowd aside, we were lucky enough to have a solid enough spot to take in what was the sum of years of touring and furthered interests. The production was excellent, the new songs are great live, and Herring doesn't crawl around as much, but you can still hear how hard his hand is slapping his chest through his mic.
"This song was written when I was in a dark place. Help a friend out who is going through the same if you can," said Herring for the mid-set catharsis of the new cut, 'Light House.'
The inevitable wave of excitement came as 'Seasons (Waiting On You)' rose up and burned through the crowd with that huge chorus. Future Islands then gamely closed the regular set with 'Tin Man,' 'Long Flight,' and 'Spirit,' with the left sleeve on Herring's signature black t-shirt nearly torn off.
Future Islands hit Philadelphia this weekend, followed by a string of festival dates in Australia. Get their full tour itinerary here.