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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Sun Feb 20 2011

Review: Future Islands @ Empty Bottle 2/19


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.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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