Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Future Islands, Lilac Shadows (Local 506, 7/20/12)

Future Islands scheduled a last-minute show at Local 506 a couple of weeks back.  They asked locals Lilac Shadows to join them... a very appropriate opener.  I've written a couple of times about Lilac Shadows and their great EP, A Shallow Madness.  Suffice it to say their dark, dreamy pop is getting better and better live.  I heard a few new songs in there, and hopefully, they'll be recorded soon.  Here's a few shots of them, and more on Future Islands below.  Thanks to Adam Graetz for the great projection, which has made for some of my best photos in the past (Lilac Shadows, T0W3RS, Jenny Besetzt).  
I hadn't gotten around to seeing Future Islands live.  This band with coastal NC roots now resides in Baltimore, and are usually bunched in with the techno/dance/pop crowd.  Not my usual thing, which probably explains my neglect.  But live, they are some other kind of animal altogether.  Heavy, emotional, almost sinister.  Harsh white floodlights from below added to this effect (as did singer Samuel T. Herring's choice of outfit, intentionally I'm sure). 

Herring's vocals are operatic, romantic, and sad... a Pagliacci for the indie masses.  They're an acquired taste to be sure.  I hated Morrissey once upon a time, and only gave the Smiths a chance because of Johnny Marr's inventive and catchy guitar.  But it didn't take long before I couldn't see one without the other.  And Herring's voice has already grown on me. 

In this setting -- despite minimal instrumentation of bass and electronic miscellany -- he is undoubtendly a ROCK singer in a ROCK band.  This is hard, heady stuff.  He speaks... nay, preaches to the audience, in between hyper-energetic, somewhat awkward jumps and dance moves.  It's an aggressive performance, almost with the feel (though not sound) of hardcore.  Future Islands have a big sound, for sure.  All the more unexpected considering the recent, rather muted, On the Water.  But I LOVE the ocean sounds and overall atmosphere of that album. 

Anyway, here are some photos of Future Islands.  Shades of Joy Division on the last one (well, for the whole show).

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