As anyone tightly packed in the Lincoln Theatre Friday night can attest, Future Islands is not your average indie-rock band. Is it Synth-pop? Yes. New wave? Yes. But that isn’t enough to describe the sound of this trio, consisting of Samuel T. Herring (vocalist), Gerrit Welmers (keyboardist), and William Cashion (guitar). Although I’m guilty of it myself, it would be rash to interpret their recent album “On the Water” (2011) as a romantic and placid reflection of the waterfront backdrop of their North Carolina recording site. As their show revealed, this is merely one dimension of their sound.
Their live performance emphasized the infectious hooks, pulsating beats, and melodic climaxes of their songs. Samuel Herring’s dramatic Bowie-esque vocals are undeniably cathartic on the album but become something more aggressive and dynamic when coupled with his physical vigor and animated stage antics. At times, his vocal reaches and emotional force bought to mind a softer version of a heavy metal singer.
It was obvious that connecting with the crowd was essential to them. They played familiar songs from their previous album “In Evening Air” (2010) in addition to the more recent “On the Water.” Herring’s dancing encouraged one to do the same. The feedback from the Lincoln Theatre audience was tremendous, eventually leading to crowd surfing and dancing on stage with the band. You might say it was a sort of 80’s, electronic, rock, dance party. No matter how you choose to explain Future Islands, they definitely succeed in doing “it”.