The biggest moment of applause came about 30 seconds in to Future Islands' biggest hit, their breakthrough hit, right when Sam T Herring was going to sing the first word of the song -- "Seasons" -- and, with expert timing, Gerrit Welmers' keyboards completely crapped out. The song completely fell apart and Herring, who had been cracking jokes with the crowd all night, laughed, remarking that they're "still figuring things out" after taking almost a year off to make the forthcoming The Far Field. They quickly got things working again with the crowd picking back up, too, but Herring had had them in his pocket since walking out on stage.

Future Islands have many very catchy songs, but the band's appeal lives or dies with Herring, who is part Pentecostal preacher, part lounge singer, part Tony Monero, part motivational preacher, and pugilist shadowboxing a title fight. When he's not busting the moves that made Letterman a fan, he's acting out lyrics, frequently picking imaginary cherries from the vine, eating and then admiring the stems. He is 100% in the moment and sometimes, like after playing new song "Cave," seemed entirely, emotionally drained. He ripped his pants and his shirt last night. You cannot take your eyes off him.

This surprise Valentine's Day gift, complete with free Future Islands grade-school style valentines at the merch table, was one of a few small shows the Baltimore band have been playing to get their sea legs back before the release of The Far Field. We got about half that, including first single "Ran," and all of which were very much in the mold of 2014's Singles. Solely judging by Sam's "into it" level, "Day Glow Fire" seems a likely future (islands) single. There were plenty of familiar favorites, too, and main set-ender "Spirit" seemed to get the biggest crowd reaction. They returned for a three-song encore. Fun show and nice to see them somewhere small, where Sam noted they've played a few record release shows, unlike their next scheduled NYC date. Bowery Ballroom setlist, and video of them playing "Ran," is below.

Opening the night were Future Islands' North Carolina buddies Zack Mexico, who came up just for this show and make a new wave-y brand of surf rock with a two-drummer, three-guitar attack. (They seemed like a band who might've toured with Oingo Boingo in 1982.) What they lacked in Big Hooks they made up for with super tight playing and exuberance. They were a lot of fun. Pictures from their set, and more of Future Islands, in the gallery above.


SETLIST: Future Islands @ Bowery Ballroom 2/14/2017
Through the Roses
Aladdin *
Ran *
Long Flight
Cave *
Time on Her Side *
Candles *
Beauty of the Road *
Day Glow Fire *
A Dream of You and Me
Seasons (Waiting on You)
Walking Through That Door
Tin Man

Light House
Vireo's Eye
Inch of Dust

*new song

photos by Amanda Hatfield

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