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Future Islands rides high tide


This article was published April 24, 2014 at 2:40 a.m.

Future Islands

Return with us now to the days when synthesizers ruled the rock world, as important as guitars. A time when singers like David Byrne cavorted on stage, making life more interesting for highly motivated insurance agents, accountants, bankers and other - let’s not say nerdy - but rather, normal, neat personages.

Future Islands, whose members call Baltimore home, is a band that brings to mind The Cure, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and the Psychedelic Furs, thanks to the pulsating dance floor sounds of keyboardist and programmer Gerrit Welmers.

However, it’s the singer, Samuel T. Herring, who will likely leave you slack-jawed in amazement with a stage performance somewhere between indescribable and amazing, combining apparently awkward and stagy movements more reminiscent of a rock star.

From his dance moves to his chest-thumping, growling and even his eye contact, Herring has something, and it’s not what you’d expect.

William Cashion is the band’s bassist and guitarist (although bass figures more prominently than guitar). Michael Lowry is listed as as the touring drummer.

In 2003, five students at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., started a group they called Art Lord & the Self-Portraits, which lasted for a little more than two years.

Two of the five left, and in 2006, Herring, Cashion and Welmers formed Future Islands with a drummer who has since left. They quickly issued a self-released album, Little Advances; another, Wave Like Home, came out on a London label in 2008, soon after the trio moved to Baltimore. Thrill Jockey Records, a prominent Chicago independent label, signed them and released In Evening Air in 2010 and On the Water a year later.

Earlier this year, Future Islands signed with 4AD Records, whose roster has included Bon Iver, Cocteau Twins, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Iron & Wine, M. Ward and This Mortal Coil.

On March 3, Future Islands performed “Seasons (Waiting for You),” the first song on a then-unreleased album, Singles, on The Late Show With David Letterman. Music fans soon began sharing the video, and other media soon took notice - National Public Radio, the Pitchfork website and People magazine, which called it “One of the best standout live performances of the week so far.” Later in March, the band went on to wow audiences at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Singles came out March 25, just as Future Islands began a 40-date tour that, besides Little Rock, includes New York, Philadelphia and Washington, the Coachella Festival in Indio, Calif., and a scattering of smaller locales, including Pioneertown, Calif., and Marfa, Texas.

Music Future Islands

Openers: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Fine Peduncle 8:30 p.m. Friday, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show (501) 372-7707

Weekend, Pages 35 on 04/24/2014

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