Future Islands at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX
The night began with a non-conventional "hip-hop" performance from Busdriver, curator of the disorienting FR/BLCK/PR (Free Black Press) radio show. I’m not sure, however, that “hip-hop” accurately describes this man’s genre or performance. His persona could more accurately be described as a modern poet who curates disorienting atmospheres with sound. The ambient and sometimes harsh beats accompanying his lyrical prowess challenged the audience not only in-ear but in-mind as well. With no DJ or hype-man accompanying his performance, Busdriver remained the center of attention and was able to deliver powerful messages about society and America’s current cultural climate during his set. Should you ever have the chance to see him perform live, I would highly recommend it.
Shortly after Busdriver, Future Islands took the stage and continued to stretch the emotional tensions of the room. While casual listeners likely latched on to driving bass lines and hi-hats of the group’s top songs, loyal fans more attuned to the words being sung, experienced an hour of introspection while their bodies bounced and moved to the beat of each song. With lyrics like “And what’s a song without you? / When every song I write is about you / When I can’t hold myself without you / And I can’t change the day I found you” (Track: Ran) immersed throughout their discography it’s not surprise that front-man Samuel Herring often looks up to the ceiling pensively, beats his chest, lies on the floor, and leans in to sing directly to front-row supporters throughout the show. Though stemming from a condition called Reinke’s edema, you can also hear Herring belting painfully deep growls throughout the performance, which adds to the emotional complexity of the band’s music and shows. In a conversation with Ryan Leas of Stereogum, Herring noted “If I’m not hitting [a note], I growl more to compensate for that, or to reach an emotional peak otherwise, since I can’t hit the note.” Overall, the band is not one to be missed - both live and in-ear.
Their most recent album “The Far Field” dropped in April of this year and has yet to get old. I would highly recommend giving it a listen and catching the group as they finish out the North American leg of their tour over the next month.
Photography and Coverage by Marshall Heins II
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