Future Islands close the Weekend in Style at First Avenue


Yet another Sunday night show to set the tone for the week. If last night’s show is any indication of how this week will go, I think I can go ahead and expect a fairly laid back and chill week. After last week being an insane week full of shows all over town and all over the place as far as genre is concerned, I think a chill week sounds pretty freaking amazing.

North Carolina based Jenny Besetzt opened up the show at First Avenue starting promptly at 8PM. I was instantly struck by singer John Wollaber’s voice. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before and, whether I liked it or not, it caught my attention. His voice was dark and boomy. Honestly, if there was ever a genre entitled “doom indie” he would be the king of it. Even with the dark lowness of his voice, there was an undeniable sense of elegance behind it. After doing a bit of research this morning, it only makes sense that he had been born to an opera singer. You can hear the classical training but it’s as if John has taken that and made it his own leaving fans with a completely new and different experience.

John’s voice along with the tasteful instrumentation that came from the other three band members on stage had the sold out First Avenue crowd lost in a wave of music. It was layers on top of layers and, although there wasn’t much movement on stage, you could see the movement in the music. The layers would come into the audience like waves, at some points the waves were heavier than others and you were left with an almost dark feeling inside you but, in just a couple of notes, a lighter wave would hit you lifting you right back up. It’s quite amazing when a band has a live show that can have this kind of effect on you. Regardless if the music is what you listen to or not, you can’t leave when experiencing something like this. It’s truly just that– an experience and one that should not be overlooked.

I may never know why the band name is Jenny Besetzt as there is nobody name Jenny in the group but, let’s be honest, what’s in a name? Judging by their Facebook and other social media accounts, this group is still a wee baby in the scene but, after this tour and past tours with other huge bands, it’s clear to see that they will be taking off sooner rather than later. I just hope that, with new found fame, they keep the raw power and emotion alive through their live show. That’ll be what keeps me coming back.

Synthpop/ post-wave darlings Future Islands closed out the quick show with a powerful performance that had me begging for more. I’ll be the first to admit (if you can’t already tell) that last night wasn’t a show I would typically go to. Honestly, I had the night off and was itching for some live music after skipping out on Saturday night’s show due to exhaustion and pure laziness. I went into the show without any expectations other than some live music and catching up with my friend and fellow blogger/ photographer. Jenny Besetzt was fine but I found myself spending more time socializing during their set than actually paying attention. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the music or the soundscapes they were creating, because I did. There just wan’t really anything to watch beyond the band members standing on stage and swaying with the music. Future Islands was the complete opposite and exactly what I needed to end my Sunday night and start my week off right.

Although Future Islands is from Baltimore, Maryland, they have a very exotic sound about them that makes you think they are from another planet. Much like John from Jenny Besetzt, Future Island singer Samuel Herring has an unnaturally low voice that seems to transport you to a faraway place with ease. His low and almost sinister voice didn’t quite match the upbeat pop music being played behind him but neither did his dark and melancholy lyrics. This complete set of clashing words, sounds and music had me instantly sold on Future Islands. Beyond the mind-fucking music and lyrics was Samuel’s pure fury on stage.

Sure, Future Islands’ music isn’t metal. Nothing about it is metal. That being said, I would love to see Samuel front a metal band. The amount of energy this guy showed on stage had my jaw on the floor within the first song. He seemed to attack every word he sang with a punch and, in turn, he would punch at the air or crouch down low and give the sold out crowd a sinister smile. It was quite amazing to see this one man completely control the older crowd the way he did. It was all eyes on him and, to help, the two other members of the band stayed a couple feet behind him and in the darkness as to just highlight Samuel’s talent and passion.

The older crowd stood there with mouths open and beers in their hands as Future Islands powered through their set. Other than the occasional nodder and toe tapper, there really wasn’t much movement coming from the audience but there was really none needed. The energy that Samuel had was more than enough to fill the entire First Avenue Mainroom and then some.

Future Islands has been around since 2006 and, with five full length albums out, have clearly already made their mark on the scene. With such a history and so many iconic albums out, choosing a set list for a band like this must be tough but, judging by the reaction of the crowd, Future Islands did the best they could. With an eighteen song set followed by a four song encore, the band did their best to keep everyone in the crowd happy.

You caught me, I’m not going to start listening to Future Islands on a daily basis as their music just doesn’t get me going like some good old-fashioned pop punk does. That being said, as soon as they announce another show in town, I’ll be snagging a ticket. Never judge a band based on their music– judge them on their live show. Sometimes passion and conviction can outweigh the music and have you falling in love with a band that you would have never given the time of day to. Thank you Future Islands for having such a powerful show. See you next time!