Future Islands Gig, Dublin
90 min • Vicar Street, Dublin • November 2nd, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
On their first of two nights in Dublin’s Vicar Street, there’s an electricity in the air before Future Islands take to the stage. A certain furore pervades the night as the Baltimore trio are now fighting with bigger weapons than the last time they played in Ireland. Brought on by early television promotion of their newest work, Singles, a commotion stirred around lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s distinctive performance style as their Late Show with David Letterman went viral. A spotlight finally shone on a band who have been grafting it for years. When they reach the stage, Herring is quick to recount the journey the band has been on to get to where they are today; listing the litany of venues they’ve played in Ireland – from the small clubs to seizing their current two night residency in the sizeable surroundings of Vicar Street. Whilst their sound has amassed over time, so too, has their following.
The band appear unfazed by the significant attention thrust upon them. From their opening ‘Back In The Tall Grass’, they deliver a mesmerising and engaged set with songs spanning their three recent records. Their synths are brought up loud, as their guitars and bass writhe with urgency. Although Herring’s early dance moves are merited with breakouts of applause, the zealous crowd soon settles in and the focus is strictly on the music.
What becomes clear from their live show is that they passionately embody the songs. From the get-go, the formidable frontman exists as a juggernaut; tearing across the stage, pulling at himself and berating his chest to his audience. He introduces several songs with their meanings, many of which are caring words for the broken-hearted. He urges “Don’t let anyone fuck with your heart” before bursting through the likes of ‘Long Flight’ and ‘Light House’. Their lyrics are of men firmly standing in the light, yet fully aware of the shadows that lie behind them. When Herring sings “I asked myself for peace”, it’s profound and captivating from a man giving everything he has to the crowd. His stamina and vocal backflips cuts through the plethora of indie bands who fail to grasp the concept of performance and showmanship.
They close out their performance with a four-song encore including the climaxes of 2009’s In The Evening Air with the feverish ‘Vireo’s Eye’ and the majestic throb of ‘Inch of Dust’. They are a ball of energy catapulted into an audience who were more than happy to reciprocate. They came in with determination and steely muscle that has been taught and trained by several years of hard work. As they send the Dublin crowd off into the night with the lullaby of ‘Little Dreamer’, it echoes the sentiment of their Twitter biography: “Too noisy for new wave, Too pussy for punk”. Future Islands are certainly walking a path quite distinctly their own.