Islands @ Troubadour 1-21-14 Islands @ Troubadour 1-21-14

Photos and Words by Madelynn Elyse



You know you’ve made it when Benedict Cumberpatch is checking out your band. That’s my definition of success. He snuck into the Troubadour and politely ordered drinks from the giddy bartender before turning to watch Islands make music.

I turned to my friend Eric. “Sherlock is here!”

Eric didn’t seem to hear me. He instead asked, “Have you ever heard these guys before?” His thick-rimmed glasses slipped down his nose.

I shook my head, no. Okay, that was a lie. I had heard Islands once before while driving to the Troubadour. But I was essentially here cold-turkey.

“They’re great,” Eric said, sipping his beer. “I’ve been following them for a while, since the singer (Nicholas Thorburn) was in a band called Unicorns. Really cool island rock.”

It was difficult to focus with the presence of Smaug the Terrible next to me, but – alas – I was here to catch the band at work.

With a sudden swell of cheers, Islands began their set. Eric hooted and raised his beer. The lead singer of Islands instantly owned the stage with the kind of charm that seems inherent in some people. In no time at all, the crowd was in trance. I pulled out my camera and set to work.

Islands is the perfect name for this band. Their songs are indie rock templates spiced with guitar riffs and keyboard parts that give them a… well… ‘island’ vibe. Every time I heard a major-key moment that reminded me of sailing around a small tropical archipelago, I smiled. The band keeps their movement on stage to a happy low, focused more on feeling the music in their playing. This suits me just fine. There is nothing more tiring than a stage-hopping band with no groove.

Now I have a confession to make. I haven’t drank the kool-aid. I don’t get into a lot of these indie bands nowadays. To my taste, they seem mewling and lacking real musicianship. It’s like listening to a 13-year old picking up a guitar for the first time and everyone seems to love it and think it’s ‘cool’. Give me some musical chops and passion! I want real music, not hipsters. Surprisingly, Islands defied my feelings and brought new elements and energy to the genre that made me do a double take and hear their uniqueness, even when they might be sticking to some hipster conventions.

I’ve got to give Islands some major props. They made some brave choices with their set. Towards the middle they cooled down and shared some straight-up lullabies, which soothed the crowd. They also showcased a new tune, one which they had written the night before. I love hearing a song coming from a band when it’s fresh and inspired.

Towards the end of the band’s set, Eric turned back to me and asked, “What did you think?”

“Really cool,” I answered genuinely. A good band, a fun sound to listen to, and a room full of people sharing a love for island rock.

Islands @ Troubadour Pictures

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