“This is not a production,” Future Islands frontman Sam Herring informed the audience at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles before he and his band launched into On The Water highlight "Balance.” He proceeded to do a dance not dissimilar to the moves a brace-wearing Forrest Gump showed off to Elvis on that fateful Alabama day in the late 50s.
Unsurprisingly, Herring had his dancing shoes on throughout the concert, which he announced at the top of the show as the band's biggest headlining gig in their history. Considering that they’ve played well over 1,100 shows, that's no small feat and Future Islands seemed like they were in something of a sentimental mood. Between songs, Herring repeatedly made allusions to the current zeitgeist of disillusionment and offered touching affirmations about perseverance, togetherness and solidarity.
He also danced his ass off, as fans who have seen the band in concert already know. But as Herring made clear with his “production” comments, his earnest gesticulations are not just his cathartic release, but the crowd’s as well; witnessing Herring give it his all on stage has become one of the great joys in live music over the past several years.
If Herring’s repertoire of moves are an amalgam of everything from the chest-pounding machismo of metal to slinky hip-hop body rolls, his band's sound is all its own. Future Islands makes driving synth pop that’s indebted to both ‘80s icons like New Order and the much weirder Baltimore underground scene from whence they sprang. Their two-hour set afforded the band the chance to reach deep into their catalog (having dispatched with “Seasons (Waiting On You)” toward the end of their set, they gave the rare “deep cuts” encore). The resulting 25-song set, while heavy on songs from their excellent new album The Far Field, had plenty for both longtime fans and those who got on board following their breakout 2014 album Singles.
From the first note to the last, one got the sense that Future Islands’ “biggest show” might also have been one of their best. No wonder Herring had happy feet.
Future Islands’ tour continues with shows in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, before wrapping up with a three-night stand at Brooklyn Steel in New York on Oct. 10-12. Click here for tickets to those shows and check out our slideshow of the band’s performance at the Greek above.