Future Islands’ Surprise Stubb’s Set
Pre-SXSW “secret” gig by the synth-pop phenoms Wednesday
By Neph Basedow,
11:55AM, Thu. Mar. 12, 2015
Securing a spot at Mohawk last April proved difficult after buzz gigs the month previous at SXSW – plus a Letterman performance heard ‘round the world – catapulted Future Islands into hot-ticket territory. In contrast was Wednesday’s scene at Stubb’s, where the Baltimore quartet played an unannounced set following ad agency Digitas’ Battle of the Bands.
Free and open to the public – for lucky passersby or those savvy to “secret” pre-festival shows ramping up SXSW – the Vevo-sponsored performance felt as intimate as Stubb’s gets, the synth-pop outfit taking the stage before the venue’s hardly half-full crowd.
Bathed in blue light and skintight garb, frontman Samuel T. Herring hooked fans straightaway, his impressive squat-like dance moves tiring even those simply watching. Locking eyes with audience members, one hand on the mic and the other often stretching outward theatrically, the North Carolina native’s exaggerated delivery entertained endlessly. “Seasons (Waiting On You),” standout on the group’s fourth album Singles – released last spring – piqued the crowd’s awe, the singer pounding his chest emphatically and adding low, heavy-metal-like growls to the otherwise bouncy tune.
Five cover bands preceding Future Islands were each advised to keep sets around the 15-minute mark. Most exceeded the limit, however, and following lighthearted critiques from a panel of judges – later announcing Chicago’s the Deliverables the event’s winners – little time remained for the headliners before the outdoor venue’s weeknight sound ordinance forced a too-short set. Closer “Spirit” teased enough excitement for the group’s remaining festival dates, including Tuesday night’s SXSW slot at Clive Bar.
Impassioned and energetic despite six quick songs, the opportunity to experience this band live shouldn’t be squandered in the coming week.