Monday, August 11, 2014

[review] Operators @ the Vogue (8-9-2014)

Operators debut new jams in Indy 

This weekend, I ventured down to Nap Town to see Dan Boeckner’s new rock outfit, Operators, which opened for Future Islands at the Vogue on Saturday night. My road trip playlist consisted of Operator’s fresh EP1, Spoon’s new LP They Want My Soul, and Future Islands’ Singles (it was a rad mix!).

With Divine Fits on hiatus and Britt Daniel / Alex Fischel busy promoting Spoon’s new LP , Boeckner and Sam Brown are taking no breaks. Their new band consists of Boeckner on vocals/synth/guitar, Brown on drums, and Devojka (Macedonian singer/songwriter) on drum machine/synth/blips & boops. Since Operators had only released their 5-song EP a mere four days before the show, I was unsure what to anticipate. Based on their release, I was expecting a synth-driven, post-wave set, but what I heard was slightly different.

Operators kicked off their set with "Ancient", and immediately incited a dance party. Just listening to that track, how can you not want to groove? Songs that I recognized from their EP also included "Start Again", and "True" (which according to Devojka, is "written about sex so good, you think you’re in love"). Devojka's necklace broke during the performance of "True", and afterward she added, "and like good sex, sometimes your jewelry breaks..." The other songs of the night mostly featured Boeckner on guitar, and were definitely leaning more toward the Fugazi/punk influences that he hinted at in earlier interviews. I was slightly disappointed that "Book Of Love" made no appearance, but perhaps this song isn't ready for live shows yet.

While it was clear that the majority of attendees were there for Future Islands, it seemed that Operators wowed some Hoosiers into instant fandom. The energy during the set was at approaching level 11, and the trio authentically appeared to be having fun. Operators also seem to be tinkering with their sound (it’s only their 2nd show on this tour!). Taking a page from Fits band-mate Britt Daniel’s stage dress code, Boeckner donned a suit jacket for most of the show. However, toward the end, his trademark cut-off t-shirt made an appearance. Their quick 40 minute set left me hungering for more, and I’m already eagerly wishing for EP2 (if it exists).

The last song of the night reminded me of punk Springsteen (if such a thing doesn't exist, it does now). It was incredibly catchy, and a perfect send-off. Future Islands were expectedly fantastic, and the pairing of these two bands is an unbelievable gift from the rock gods. Please find a way to see this show if it happens to swing by a city near you.

Buy :: Operators - EP1

Pics :: Kristen Jackley @ NUVO

Operators Tour Dates
8/8 - Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small's Theatre w/ Future Islands * 
8/9 - Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue w/ Future Islands
8/10 - Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall w/ Future Islands
8/11 - Sioux Falls, SD @ Latitude 44 w/ Future Islands
8/12 - Fort Collins, CO @ Aggie Theatre w/ Future Islands
8/13 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
8/15 - Boise, ID @ Egyptian Theatre w/ Future Islands
8/16 - Portland, OR @ Doug FIr Lounge w/ Future Islands * 
8/18 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's w/ Future Islands * 
8/19 - Fresno, CA @ Star Palace w/ Future Islands
8/20 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre w/ Future Islands
8/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre w/ Future Islands * 
8/22 - San Diego, CA @ The Irenic w/ Future Islands * 
8/24 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
8/25 - Tucson, AZ @ 191 Toole w/ Future Islands
8/27 - Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre w/ Future Islands *  
8/28 - Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room w/ Future Islands
8/29 - Des Moines, IA @ Wooly's w/ Future Islands
8/30 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas
8/31 - Columbus, OH @ The Big Bang w/ Future Islands
9/2 - Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe w/ Future Islands * 
9/3 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Ballroom w/ Future Islands
9/4 - Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall w/ Future Islands
9/7 - Toronto, ON @ Horshoe Tavern
9/10 - New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage w/ Spoon
9/11 - Munhall, PA @ Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead w/ Spoon
9/13 - Hamilton, ON @ Supercrawl / FREE EVENT
10/23 - Halifax, NS @ Halifax Pop Explosion


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

[review] Future Islands @ Pyramid Scheme (3-25-2014)

Future Islands in Grand Rapids

Last night, Future Islands treated Grand Rapids with a stellar live performance. This was the band’s second visit to the Pyramid Scheme (the first time in ’11 during Art Prize), only this show was in front of a sold out Tuesday night crowd. Michiganders welcomed the musical act with open arms, and the sentiment seemed to be deeply felt by the band. Last night also marked the release date of their newest LP, Singles, which created a celebratory atmosphere on stage.

Those in attendance – either long-time fans of the band or those just discovering them after their breakout appearance on Letterman – came away with an experience never to be forgotten. Future Islands showcased most of their new material, and peppered the set list with some of their classics. Kicking the night off with “Back in the Tall Grass”, attendees soon realized they were in for a night of entertainment. Lead singer Samual T. Herring sings with such conviction and emotion on stage, and tells honest tales of heartache and love. Each song was introduced with quick dialogue, setting the stage for what was to come. It's this simple act that connects the crowd with the passion behind Herring's croons. During the 16-song set, he channeled all the emotion on stage, and he served as a perfect foil to the rest of his bandmates. Stoically providing the rhythm and groove to the dance-worthy tunes were bassist William Cashion, keyboardist Gerrit Welmers, and drummer Michael Lowry.

This dramatic difference in stage presence between Herring and the rest of the band made it impossible to draw your attention away from his theatrics. Personifying heartache and love through Elvis-inspired hip gyrations and fist bumps to his very soul, listeners were directly connected to his beautifully-crafted stories. Herring stretched the very limits of his vocal cords on stage, which added emphasis at the perfect moments in songs. At times, Herring projected the voice of a death metal singer, and these guttural growls are part of what creates the uniqueness of Future Islands’ sound.

The songs from Singles received as many cheers from the audience as did the classics from On the Water and In the Evening. After some early encouragement from Herring, the Pyramid Scheme erupted into an all-out dance party. The band concluded the first set with a raucous version of "Long Flight", and later returned for a 3-song encore. The last song of the night was a torn-down version of "Little Dreamer" from Wave Like Home. Herring requested that the house lights be turned on so he could see the crowd more clearly. It was a perfect nightcap to an amazing show, and it sent everyone into the night with a new appreciation for the wonderful work that Future Islands has been crafting over the years.

This band is about to blow up, and this tour is going to continue building that wave of chatter. If these dudes are coming to a town near you, do yourself a favor and go to that show. You will not be disappointed.

:: Photos :: from the night by Anthony Norkus (here).

:: Buy :: Future Islands - Singles (vinyl) (CD) (cassette!)

Setlist: Future Islands @ Pyramid Scheme (3-25-2014)
Back in the Tall Grass
Sun in the Morning
Before the Bridge
A Dream of You and Me
Tin Man
A Song For Our Grandfathers
Seasons (Waiting On You)
Inch of Dust
Walking Through That Door
Long Flight
Fall From Grace
Vireo's Eye
Little Dreamer