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Review Sun Feb 20 2011

Review: Future Islands @ Empty Bottle 2/19

Future-Islands.jpg

Some things are just hard to describe. Like trying to describe the torment and intensity inside of Future Island's front man Sam Herring. Or Herring's theatrical command over Empty Bottle on Saturday night. Or like trying to describe the genre Future Islands fits into. Luckily, Future Islands has already solved the issue of trying to describe their sound by creating their own genre; they call it post-wave. It's something like a heavily texturized post-punk slash new-wave set to growling, howling vocals. The Saturday night show was a little harder to depict. It was like the moody, jarring and distorted saga of the band's album In Evening Air (plus a few new tracks) were taken over and re-enacted by Herring with irrepressible drama.

Herring commandeered the Empty Bottle from the second he took the stage. With an ominous eyeball he isolated and stared down the individuals in front of him before stepping further into character and growling into opening track "The Great Fire". Herring, balanced out by stoic band mates J. Gerrit Welmers (keyboard) and William Cashion (bass/guitar), proceeded with two more unreleased tracks before getting into the reverbed, industrial noise that opens up beat driven "An Apology". The song won instant recognition from the Bottle crowd. Following the song, Herring stepped out of character for a minute, to exclaim "I am so fucking happy to be in Chicago! Goddamn!".

Back in character, with the crowd hanging on his every motion, Herring then pulled the room into "Tin Man" with a wild-eyed, anathematic and gnarled chorus "I am the Tin Man". Welmers and Cashion accompanied the roughness with steel drum beats falling underneath rich reverb and synth textures.

While the room was under the control of Herring, Herring was under the possession of the music. The lyrics "Walking Through That Door" welled up inside of him, took over his body and gutturally rolled from his throat escaping to contorted facial expressions. At times he aggressively beat his chest with his fist or leaned over the crowd with fingers clawed towards the ceiling. And the lyrics to the dramatic ballad "As I Fall" seem to crawl out from him as he half-cried the "I feel safe / I feel whole / Knowing that it wasn't your fault / Fall / Fall / You were my best friend".

Herring brought the formal set to an end to the dance beats of "Veiro's Eye" and a garbage bag full of pink, orange and red balloons. Bodies pulsated frenetically underneath the bouncing balloons to the song's layered, building beats. Rather than ending with a cliffhanger, the trio encored with the down tempo ballad "Little Dreamer". "Viero's Eye" was like the dramatic climax, to "Little Dreamer's" denouement.

Future Islands is currently touring with the tongue-and-cheek energy of Ed Schrader's Music Beat — a post-punk band that yells about amazing airshows and sugar addictions.

Photo credit: Sarahana

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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