Future Islands @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts 2-3-14 Future Islands @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts 2-3-14

Photos and Words By Ben Irwin


When I heard that Future Islands’ upcoming release Singles was to come out on indie powerhouse label 4AD I was filled with swirling emotions. Some of my favorite music comes from 4AD’s roster, and I unequivocally trust in their ability to nurture unique artists, but still I was uneasy with the news. Future Islands stole people’s breath at FYF 2011 and sold out the Echoplex a few months later. Even still, for the most part, the general west coast music scene hadn’t yet clued into the brilliance of this Baltimore based three piece (now foursome), and I cherished their music like it was a private treasure. The fear that resided within me when I heard about the 4AD release plans didn’t stem from some narcissistic need to know about bands the general public hadn’t, but rather it was rooted with anxiety that the increased exposure would pacify the almost visceral nature of the band’s music. If Future Islands recent gig at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts is any indication, it’s the general public that will be changed by Future Islands and not the other way around.

The politically correct way to say it is Los Angeles crowds can be fickle and hard to impress. The truth is they are regularly ineffectual pieces of shit. It’s an everyday occurrence to go to club shows in this city and see crowds that stand 10 feet away from the stage, arms crossed, and faces unaffected as they smugly watch some band they paid to see with an air of entitlement that’s consistent with their privileged upbringing. Couple this with the specifics that Future Islands were recently announced for Coachella, and that this was to be an all-ages show, and you have a perfect formula for attracting a stagnant crowd whose only concern is being seen in the right place. Except it was nothing like that, not even a slightly.

Future Islands walked through the sold out crowd and climbed onstage with a demeanor and dress as unassuming as ever. For those who hadn’t seen them live, which I assume was the vast majority of the crowd as they hadn’t played LA in 2 years, they had no idea how different the live show was from the recorded material. If the records are a gentle caress down the neck while making love, the live show is the type of good hard fucking that leaves you doe-eyed. Lead singer Sam Herring was in typical form, like some J-Crew cutout just revived from cardiac arrest with adrenaline therapy. The band, now for the first time with a live drummer, provided a beautiful juxtaposition by standing back unpretentiously and letting their music speak for itself. Spastically stalking the stage, Sam alternated beating on the ground and himself while belting out yaps soaked in an agony so fresh you could smell the salt from the tears. The change of pace was Sam getting two inches from the front rows face and serenading them while maintaining a look in his eyes that’s 1000 miles away.

The crowd this night was going nuts, with kids barrel rolling over each other, and the entire room was flailing in unison as the dancier numbers took hold. All wrapped up with taking photos and having my own 1 man dance party I took pause to bathe in what was happening around me; Future Islands hadn’t been phased by the moment, and they weren’t going to change, instead they were going to change everything around them.

Pictures of Future Islands @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts

Future Islands – One Day (B Side from “Singles”)

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