In a short film Future Islands released last month titled Road Dawgs
, members of the band touched on the trying realities of a life on the road. "A lot of people think touring is like a big vacation...it's very grueling, it's very difficult, it is hard for your mind. Being in a different city every night for months on end is insane...like, humans are not supposed to live like that." Tack on the kind of nightly, emotional wallop the band delivered in NYC on Friday, and the exhaustion of being a blue-collar, much-buzzed-about band is potentially overwhelming.
Part of the band's year-long grind was sparked by the now-famous Letterman performance in early '14
. The hips, the kicks, the ducking, the diving, Letterman's priceless reaction ("I'll take all of that you got!")...Samuel T. Herring endeared himself to the American living room with the ultimate late night appearance. When it plays out over 4 minutes on national television, well...it's a refreshing, give-it-what-you-got for the cameras kind of moment. When it plays out over the course of an hour plus long performance, as it did during Future Islands 2nd sold out show at Terminal 5, it's mind-blowing.
Herring is an absolute explosion of energy. It courses through him, ebbing and flowing in these pent-up fits of extreme body contortions. One minute he's poised and statuesque at the helm of his band, thanking the hundreds gathered before him for coming, delivering the songs of the band's break-out album Singles
in a rich, almost Elton John-esque way of crooning. The next he's scouring, spinning, twisting, and kicking his way across the stage, accentuating choruses with a frightening horror-film growl, pounding his chest like a Superfan having a heart attack
. It's exhausting just taking it all in. Perhaps that explains the band's approach, who strike a polar opposite image behind him. They sit back, hide under a heavy blanket of lights and haze, pushing a cool wash of synth and dancy rhythms for Herring to set his anthems to. Herring is the star, obviously, but the whole thing wouldn't work without his stoic sidekicks.
The biggest takeaway from Friday goes back to that whole Letterman thing, though. That moment wasn't Sammy T seizing something for the band by hamming it up for the cameras. He was just doing what he always does. He was leaving it all out there on the stage. Imagine how difficult all that other stuff - the drives, the sound checks, the interviews, the photo shoots, the fans - is when you've spent all your energy on the show. Still, as hard as being this
band on the road must be, a night like Friday - the biggest headlining show of Future Island's career, by the way - only adds new perspective to why it's worth it. 2014 may have been Future Island's breakout year, but it's hard to imagine this band slowing down anytime soon. So, hang in there boys. Given his energy, my guess is that's not something Mr. Herring will have a hard time with.