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