Future Islands are undoubtedly one of those bands that will divide opinion, but they are most definitely one of the most theatrical and startling bands you’ll see live, if you like this band once you’ve seen them, live you’ll love them.
Tonight sees the Baltimore based trio on their third visit to Glasgow and the Captains Rest basement is rammed with a crowd anticipating one of best shows of the year so far.
First up in the no small matter of support and we’re not let down with Glasgow/London guitar/drums all female duo Scared Paws who delight the already healthy crowd with funky, angular punk tinged pop.
It’s fun high octane stuff that gets the crowd nicely warmed up, you can easily see them go way beyond an opening slot at the Captains, the girls seems to be having the time of their life onstage as their guitarist dances without a care despite admitting to have munched a huge kebab just before.
Next up are Shropshire’s Way Through, another guitar/drums duo, who give a the show a new vibe as guitarist Christopher Tipton hits out with frantic vocals after the duo fill the room with noise, before bringing it a touch to add a more poppy feel to their indie punk sound.
Their chaotic sound, sporadic vocals and powerful heavy guitar are more than enough to keep a by now packed basement interested as they get ready for, no disrespect to the support, the highlight of the night.
Future Islands lash onto the stage and vocalist Samuel Herring is quick to make himself the focal point of the show with a “fuck” filled monologue that all but captures the audience before they launch into ‘Give Us The Wind‘.
Herring is certainly one of the most intense frontmen you will ever see, he completely takes over the show and has the basement transfixed on his every word and movement, whether that be manic grinning to full on slapping himself in the face.
His vocals at times have drawn comparisons to Tom Waits, but Herring is a completely different beast his vocal style changes from line to line, at times hitting a powerful baritone and then being seemingly possessed into a guttural snarl.
It’s certainly Herring’s vocals that will make or break someone’s interest in Future Islands, the music is hard to fault as keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and bassist William Cashion, who looks remarkably like Zach Galifianakis, switch from playful yet chilled electronica soundscapes to full on dance floor filling new wave.
But for people who love this band it is Herring that steals the show, he’s dramatic, engaging, amusing, and any other superlative you want to throw at him, he’s over the top in just the right way.
His stage banter is engaging too, whether it be confusing geography lessons, the north of the UK is like the south of the US, trying to draw similarities as they from the south, North Carolina, to him and Cashian, and then the crowd, sharing a bottle of Buckfast, he certainly knows how to stir up a Glasgow audience.
The set is scattered with tracks that sound great on record but this is where you want to be seeing them, it doesn’t really matter what songs these guys are playing Herring will make sure you are swept up in the show regardless.
The show ends on one of the band’s best tracks and probably the bands most recognisable, although possibly due to the remix featuring Beach House’s Victoria Legrand’s added vocals, ‘Little Dreamer‘ but everyone will take away a different highlight from this evening, it’s just brilliant, go see these guys next time you can.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Gordon Ballantyne