Longtime fans of Future Islands have always known what to expect from animalistic frontman Samuel Herring’s live performances. There will be the pained kisses to the crowd, simulated heart-ripping-out sessions, angry thumping of his chest, and, of course, incredibly unorthodox dance moves.
Now, after a memorable performance on David Letterman’s late night show, most of the country is familiar with Herring’s enduring showmanship. A cynic could view the band’s subsequent explosion in popularity as a guffawing public’s condescending reaction to a strange-looking man (Michael Hutchence, he is not) cavorting maniacally onstage.
But if the newcomers are only there for Herring’s antics, they’re either deaf or dense. Herring is an incredibly endearing fella — you really feel there isn’t an ironic bone in his body — and his growling, harrumphing and snorting vocals make the Future Islands sound so inimitable. That’s particularly true, since they’re set against the backdrops of warm, hazy synth lines and the never-miss-a-note bass playing of William Cashion (the group’s secret weapon.)
The band’s clash of sounds makes them feel both timeless and placeless (it’s pretty crazy to think that they call North Carolina home), and their collection of songs are so emotive because they come from a place that’s so real (again, Herring and irony just don’t mix.)
It would be easy for Future Islands’ diehards to take the high road and say, “I liked the band way back when . . .,” but I think most fans are just happy that the rest of the country is beginning to appreciate the beguiling draw of the group.
That appreciation is certainly starting to manifest itself in big ways for the band, who have been touring seemingly nonstop since the release of 2014’s breakthrough album, Singles. Whereas once they played smaller local venues like Bottom of the Hill, they’re now set to headline a show at the 2,800-seat capacity Fox Theater, a major step up for a band that has put their dues in on the road. Future Islands will play the Fox (along with Dan Boeckner-led opening act, Operators) on Friday, September 25. Unsurprisingly, the show is sold out.
While fans lucky enough to get tickets will likely hear plenty of the band’s back catalog, the group has been in the studio recording new material, so some preview of their next album could be in store at the Fox. New or old, everyone can expect Mr. Herring to sing each song like it’s his last.
Future Islands, Operators
September 25, 2015
8 p.m., $29.50 (Sold Out)