I haven’t anticipated a show this much since FreeFest over a month ago, and both Future Islands and Lonnie Walker. Touring to promote their new split 7-inch out on Friends Records, the two bands kicked off the show Thursday night in Washington and are going to close it November 20 in Baltimore, another show at which the Fresh Heirs family will attend.
I’d never listened to Lonnie Walker before Thursday night’s show, but I’d heard good things. The band opened its set with “Love Turn,” the Lonnie Walker side of the split. The feel to the music was very folky and almost Dylan-esque at some points. As the set went on, the music resembled Born Ruffians at various points, and just had a very different feel than most of the other music I’ve been listening to lately. The instrumentation was fantastic and I loved it immediately. Seeing the band made me forget about missing Romantic States, the first opener, and I watched the members intently to see how they were making this awesome music.
But the real stars of the night were Future Islands. I had the privilege of interviewing William from Future Islands for The Diamondback, and that talk made me even more excited for the show. Something else I didn’t realize until today is that Future Islands is now tied with Sonic Youth, Neon Indian and Matt & Kim for the band I have seen the most times live, with three tallies. Of course, Future Islands is going to break this open in two weeks at Ottobar in Baltimore.
Sam, William and Gerrit opened their set like Lonnie Walker did, with their side of the split, “The Ink Well.” I’d heard the song back in September at The Cherch in DC (exactly two months before Thursday’s show) and online, so I thought I knew what to expect. But still, I was floored with how powerful the song came out and how strong Sam’s delivery was. I know it’s the usual, but it still floors me every single time out.
After playing another new song, “On The Water,” the band broke into tracks from 2010’s epic In Evening Air with “An Apology.” From that album, the band also played “Inch of Dust,” “Walking Through That Door,” “Tin Man,” “Swept Inside,” and “Long Flight,” which I’m willing to say was the best song of the night. I often overlook it when I listen to In Evening Air because of “Tin Man” and “Inch of Dust,” but the energy behind “Long Flight” was just too much and just amazing.
The band also mixed in some old cuts as well, with “The Happiness of Being Twice,” “Old Friend,” “Beach Foam,” and “Little Dreamer” to close the show. I’m not as familiar with the material as I would like to be, but it’s still great and the fact that the band is so skilled at eliciting emotional response to music is enthralling. Sam introduced another new song, the name of which I didn’t catch, that was written during the winter that was a great track as well.
I feel like I’m going through stages of seeing Future Islands. The first stage, which occurred on July 20, 2008, was surprise and enchantment at seeing something so new and amazing for the first time. The second stage, September 4, 2010, was a renewal of the fascination and realization of how amazing the the band actually is. The third, November 4, 2010, was just love. That’s the only way I can really describe listening to and watching the band played. It just makes November 20 loom that much larger on my calendar, as I know the band will deliver, and it will be an amazing experience.