The image that sums up this show is easy: Future Islands singer Sam Herring crowdsurfing with arms outstretched in a living room in Northwest Washington, DC. There is really nothing to add.
This DIY-show at The Cherch, apparently some bro named Cole’s house, was the ending of a summer of shows, yet the beginning of my foray into the DC music scene. A Friends Records showcase, Cole’s living room showed some of the best Baltimore has to offer, while also showing some awesome DC hospitality with a cookout prior to the show.
Weekends opened up the night with a set that reminded me of Japandroids, but also reminded me of the jams Anna and I used to kick out in our basement three or four years ago when we were both learning the tricks of the trade. The delay and reverb laden vocals fit in with the aesthetic of the fuzzed-out guitars and created a room-enveloping distortion that you couldn’t stand still during. With both members switching between guitar and drums, two different directions were taken with the music depending on who was playing what. But one thing remained the same: the shredding.
Dope Body was loud. Dope Body was aggressive. Dope Body was noisey. Dope Body was dope. The three-piece kept up a frenetic pace right from the start, climaxing with the lead singer laying in the middle of the living room floor going through the lyrics without missing a beat. The tones were abrasive, distorted, and manipulated, but the in-your-face nature of the music kept the crowd moving and entranced for the entire set.
When we arrived early for the cookout portion of the evening, Anna & I sat down at a table that had a mild-mannered and humorous man wearing a bucket hat (which made me immediately think of Avey Tare). He cracked jokes about the Baltimore-area and talked about more of the local bands he had seen. You can imagine our surprise when we saw him sit down at the drums (sans bucket hat) for Microkingdom’s set. Another duo, Microkingdom’s wordless set followed the instrumental vibe of Dope Body’s, but at the same time, the looseness of the set made it all seem effortless. The slaps on the drums and de- and re-tuning of strings added another dimension, creating noise, noise, noise. Fantastic noise.
Finally, the big draw of the night approached: Future Islands. Anna & I saw Future Islands at Whartscape back in 2008 and were immediately smitten with Herring and his brand of music. In Evening Air, the band’s 2010 release is working it’s way up my top albums of 2010 list steadily and could possibly be one of my all-time favorites. After missing Future Islands at Whartscape 2010, I knew it was time to see these guys again. And they didn’t disappoint.
Anna & I settled in and the band immediately launched into a new song called “The Sound of Autumn” (I think), which Herring said had just been written the week before. Then the band threw down another new track, “Ink Well” (again, I think), that had been working its way into the usual live sets. Both of these songs killed and make me really excited for future releases from Future Islands, one of which will be a split 7″ from Friends Records.
After those openers, the band launched into a set filled with tracks from In Evening Air. “Inch of Dust” immediately set the crowd into a frenzy with the chorus of “Call on me / I’ll be there always” moving the room, while the band flawlessly threw down “Tin Man,” “Walking Through That Door,” and “Vireo’s Eye” as well. At the end of the set, the band played “Little Dreamer” much to the delight of the audience and closed the set out with an encore of a track I’m currently forgetting. Other tracks played that I remember were “Long Flight” and “As I Fall” (hopefully those are right).
Future Islands was flawless. Everything was perfect. But what added to the experience more than just the music was the environment. A simple living room packed with people all there to experience the same thing as you is just an amazing feeling. And while there were some unchill vibes circulating, it wasn’t anything significant enough to dampen the night.
I also have to applaud the setup of The Cherch, as it was the first DIY show I’d ever been too, much less a show in a living room. It was exciting to see how something like that could be set up, creating a great atmosphere for socializing and for music. Hat’s off, Cole and all the others that organized this show.
But Future Islands. Words can barely do justice to the live show the three members put on. If you’re in the Baltimore area tonight (September 5), do yourself a favor and get down to the Floristree to see them play with Weekends and a bunch more awesome Baltimore bands, like Butt Stomach which features Dan Deacon. If you’re in DC and don’t have a chance to make it up to Baltimore, Future Islands returns to the District on November 4 to play at The Black Cat. Mark yr calendars. I know I will.
By the way, Jimmy from Head Underwater was some sweet pics up on his blog, and I’m sure he’ll have more as time goes on, aka it’s not two o’clock in the morning. Also, if you’re a Tumblr user, follow his blog. If you just like reading blogs, bookmark it. He’s a great bro. P.S. Try to find Fresh Heirs in the Future Islands picture. Enjoy.