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That Time Vince Went to See Future Islands in Philly


Future Islands

Five times at SXSW was simply not enough. Not even close! I need my fix of Samuel T. Herring’s dance moves and death growls. NEED THEM.

So when it came to my attention that Future Islands’ NYC show was on the same night as Cloudkicker’s first and very likely last ever NYC performance, I had to find another solution. Down the Turnpike to Philthadelphia. Blech!

I’ll tell you this much, Philly: The First Unitarian Church — the walls of which could not possibly contain Herring’s rubber legs — is one helluva venue. BYOB, as long as there’s no glass! Is there another venue with that policy anywhere else in the U.S. that books such high caliber acts? (They book metal bands on the regs, too).

What went on inside that venue was more like a party with special guests Future Islands than it was a show — the energy was electric, and everyone was part of it. Rumor has it that once the show sold out the band was offered to take it across town to the much, much bigger Union Transfer, but they declined in favor of keeping it intimate. And why not? Future Islands are exploding, and this could be their last chance to play such small venues for a long, long time. As if they know they need to savor it.

The band pounded through the “hits” from their aptly-named new album Singles — “Spirit,” “Doves,” “A Dream of You and Me” and the ever-present “Seasons,” among others — and fan-favorites from the band’s catalogue including “Balance,” “Tin Man” and “Long Flight.” The three musicians sounded OK, fine — don’t they always? — and perfectly played the part of backup, whether intentionally or not. Looking at the bassist’s perpetual scowl of boredom, I found myself wondering whether he’s angry at Herring for stealing the spotlight every single moment, whether he’s accepted his fate as a sideman or if maybe he even prefers it that way.

As for Herring, illnesss may have dampened his death growls — he announced he was “a bit under the weather” and belted out maybe two growls all night — but it certainly didn’t dampen his mesmerizing, jaw-dropping shimmies, nor did it mute one bit of the audience’s excitement. The entire front half of the room was one big old mosh pit, tame by metal standards but explosive to all the normies standing awkwardly on the side, shouting and fist-pumping along to Herring’s every move. It was sweaty, it was drunken, and it was glorious. We were most certainly not the only metal dudes in the audience, although one from our group was absolutely the only person to attempt crowd-surfing all night.

See Future Islands before they blow up if you can; it may already be too late.

Below, some video from this week’s performance on Jimmy Kimmel. Enjoy!


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