Fun Fun Fun Fest: Future Islands

Ursine wrestling of the mind

Future Islands worked hard to get to where they are today. Living in near obscurity through seven years and three LPs, the Baltimore trio finally broke out with its fourth full-length, last year’s Singles on 4AD. The impassioned nobodies have since become electro-pop ringleaders.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

“I feel like we’ve gone places together,” affirmed vocalist Samuel Herring. “First time we were [in Austin], I think we only played to 25 people.”

That was 2008. Three years later, they played an afternoon slot on the main stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest. They returned to Auditorium Shores on Sunday – just over a year after taping an episode of Austin City Limits – but in a later slot. It was only a matter of time.

Herring’s delivery ricocheted from feral growls to heartbroken croons and vaporous whispers. His enigmatic and demanding presence echoed David Bowie and Iggy Pop. In pop contagion “Seasons (Waiting on You),” his gyrations received a collective swoon, while in “Spirit,” he slapped his face several times until falling to the floor like an ursine manic wrestling with his mind.

This unhinged demeanor goes hand in hand with impulsive lyricism.

“This is for the youngins’. Life is fucked up at times,” proffered Herring before launching into “Light House,” where he actually sings, “You know what you know is better is brighter.”

In their simplicity, Future Islands’ earnest zest unleashes something universal – the redeeming power to music.

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Future Islands, Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015, Samuel Herring, David Bowie, Iggy Pop

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