Future Islands drifts into Boone
Art, passion, drama and emotion buoy along in the archipelago
collectively known as Future Islands.
The synthpop band is floating back to its home state on its latest tour, washing ashore at Boone Saloon Thursday, Feb. 2.
Embarking on its musical expedition in Greenville, N.C., Future Islands is three former East Carolina University art students who were interested in advancing their creativity beyond visuals.
Gerrit Welmers (keyboards and programming), William Cashion (bass, acoustic and electric guitars) and Samuel T. Herring (words and vocals) formed the band, Art Lord and the Self-Potraits, with some friends in 2003.
In 2007, the group narrowed to three members, adopted the name Future Islands and soon relocated to Baltimore, Md.
In the following years, Future Islands became an attention-grabber on the indie circuit, gaining notoriety for their theatrical vocals and minimalist instrumentation. Their stark individualism, along with support from a vibrant local music scene in Baltimore and hard touring, garnered the three-piece a deal with Thrill Jockey Records a couple years ago. Their subsequent releases on the label, 2010’s “In Evening Air” and last October’s “On the Water,” have captured praise from NPR Music, music website Pitchfork and Paste Magazine.
Sam Herring calls Future Islands’ music “post-wave dance music.” The band draws heavily from its progenitors, whose music and stage presence are not so distant from their own.
“Ian Curtis for his words and darkness, Morrissey for his style and Robert Smith for his imagery – those were big influences and probably things that are most linked to what we do,“ he said.
There are also some surprising entrants on Future Islands’ list of influences. As for his showmanship, Herring credits David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears. His writing, he said, is driven by hip-hop verse.
Future Islands’ concerts magnetize people who are curious to see Herring dramatically unfold on stage. Often encouraging concert-goers to dance, he does a lot of his own movement. Herring is vocally and physically engaging and expressive in his performance, rarely standing in one place or keeping within a narrow range of notes.
“I perform the way I do because I love performance,” he said. “I love a strong performer. I like to watch a good performer, so I try to be the best that I can be.”
The intensity Herring displays is due to his lyrics being based upon personal experiences. Because of this, he said, it’s impossible to present Future Islands’ songs without passion.
“It allows me to channel that onstage, to tell a story with great conviction and great belief and how I feel and what I think and what I believe,” he said. “I’m not singing about this third-person story. I’m singing about my life.”
Herring’s on-stage vulnerability has proven to be a major draw for Future Islands. Showing the audience that “you’re of them,” getting to the honesty of the song and sharing with people is what the band’s music is all about.
Travis Reyes, who works at the Boone record store, 641 rpm, convinced Future Islands to add Boone to its tour itinerary. He said he’s a fan of the band because of its distinctiveness.
“I’ve never heard a band that sounds exactly like them,” he said. “The rhythms and melodies are so upbeat, and it’s a weird dichotomy between the melancholy and the uplifting, positive part of it.”
Reyes hasn’t yet seen Future Islands perform, but he said he’s been told by several people that Future Islands puts on the best live show they’ve seen.
“They’re entertaining and engrossing,” he said. “It’s an incredibly engaging show.”
Doors open at 10 p.m. Boone-based electronic act, Human Pippi Armstrong, will open the show at 10:30 p.m., followed by Baltimore rock band Ed Schrader’s Music Beat at 11:15 p.m. Future Islands, the main act, will hit the stage around midnight.
The cost of the show is $10 and, pending availability, tickets will be available at the door. Pre-sale tickets are available at 641 rpm, located at 691 W. King St. in Boone. Only ages 21 and up will be admitted. Boone Saloon is located at 489 W. King St.
For more on Future Islands, visit http://www.future-islands.com.