Future Islands connect amid high expectations at The Chapel

Future-Islands_postBy Pedro Paredes //

Future Islands with Ed Schrader’s Music Beat //
The Chapel – San Francisco
Thursday April 10th, 2014 //

While outside in the streets of San Francisco the weather seemed typical for a spring night, a sold out Chapel was experiencing its very own microclimate, with a diverse crowd energized by the atmospheric electricity generated by Future Islands’ highly anticipated show. The band’s notorious network debut on Letterman plus a series of energetic performances at SXSW kept expectations as high as they can get, and I was not surprised to hear a few people wondering if Sam Herring, Future Islands’ charismatic frontman, was going to be able to keep up with his own pace.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, the Baltimore duo in charge of opening the night, did not have an easy task, as one could argue that their post-punk rowdy style wasn’t necessarily in line with the main act’s more polished sound. Nevertheless, it took no more than one song for the audience to quickly connect and engage with them, as they moved along their setlist in a refreshingly awkward, authentic manner. Equipped only with a floor tom and a bass guitar, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat delivered a wide range of songs that went from highly energetic lo-fi numbers (“Gas Station Attendant”) to hypnotic ballads beautifully carried by Schrader’s gravelly voice (“Air Show/Can’t Stop Eating Sugar”).

After that, the tone was set for the evening’s main course.


Around 10:30 PM, the lights went out and the crowd got loud. Sam Herring and band descend upon the stage and allowed themselves some time to get a feel of the attending crowd before beginning their set. As the audience roared and cheered, it became more clear the source from which the North Carolina native draws the energy required to make his performances so intense and unique.

He promises to bring the house down. We believe him. We are at The Chapel — the ceremony is about to begin.

The setlist began with “Back in the Tall Grass” from the band’s celebrated new album, Singles. Sam Herring is in no rush, and he takes it slow while the bass line marks a steady beat. He wants the people not just to feel, but to listen as well, and he takes time to give some context before commencing a new song. “Balance”, for example, was written in a dark time of his life, when the support from a friend saved his life, and as the lyrics go by, we could all feel the intensity level of his performance boosting up.


As the show progressed, it became clear that Herring is all about making a connection with the audience. To make this happen, he uses a wide set of resources that have made his appearances reach an almost legendary status. His style seems to draw inspiration from multiple sources, and I can’t help but to be reminded of the insane intensity of Ian Curtis, the shamanic charisma of Jim Morrison, and the storytelling skills of Johnny Cash.

By the end of the concert the bond was established and the band and crowd become one, with the stage becoming public domain. As the last chords were played and the Baltimore trio waved goodbye, we were all reminded of Herring’s first words before the show; the house had been in fact brought down. Until we meet again.









  1. […] Check out the Showbams review of the Future Islands “Fauxchella” performance in SF HERE […]

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