Photos By: Rachel Frank
By: Dennis Moon
Future Islands mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and frankly, they don’t seem to know it yet. If they do, it hasn’t shown.
2014 has been their biggest year, as the release of their fantastic fourth album Singles, a transition to larger label 4AD and a banner performance on Letterman have resulted in a surge in popularity: they seemingly emerged from the obscurity of indie circles and onto the posters of major festivals in a matter of weeks. Such a giant and sudden rise in fame might cause younger, less grounded bands to become pretentious and yet, Future Islands have retained the same self-denying, intimate philosophy that lent itself so well to their previous releases. Their sold-out show at the Irenic on August 22 proved no exception. Bassist William Cashion joined energetic tour opener Operators for their final song, smiling uncontrollably from beneath his nifty moustache but standing in the back, content to let the band have their own moment. The first glance I caught of the band backstage, they were awaiting the arrival of a Papa John’s pizza. Yes, it is apparent Future Islands have been here before (almost 900 times now, but who’s counting?).
Modesty in tow, the band were spot on once they overcame some feedback issues and galloped into Singles standout “Back in the Tall Grass”. From there, things only got sweatier. “Sun in the Morning,” “Long Flight,” “Spirit,” “Light House,” the list of highlights is endless. I’m starting to think frontman Samuel T. Herring defies superlatives, but in the converted church setting of the Irenic, his impassioned chest pounding and intense gaze felt nothing short of religious. In theory, you wouldn’t think songs about the darkness of the human soul, North Carolina tobacco fieldsand the simple joys that dissolve when love dies away would make people shake their asses, but thankfully, that didn’t ring true. A rowdy crowd came ready to bust a move and never held back their sheer joy in having perhaps 2014’s biggest breakout act all to themselves. I can’t verbalize what Future Islands’ music has meant to me in the past year of my life, but I can sincerely say this performance validated the meaning and trust I assigned to this unassuming band of indie lifers. They played for 400 people on Friday, and you get the feeling these size shows are going to be few and far between from here on.