by Andrew Norman
It quickly became clear after walking into the Waiting Room Lounge to see Baltimore's Future Islands Nov. 2 that what has happening on the stage was worth capturing. Stalking his crowd intensely while pantomiming his lyrics, Future Islands' frontman Samuel T. Herring performed as if he was on Broadway, rather than in Omaha for the band's first time, playing to a few dozen people who chose this two-bill show over a strong competitor, Real Estate, at the Slowdown. Daniel Muller and I pulled out our cameras and shot the final song, "Little Dreamer," off the band's 2008 album, Wave Like Home. Watch it, then read Lazy-i's review of the show below.
Video: Daniel Muller, Andrew Norman
Editing: Andrew Norman
Audio: Matt Hovanec
Despite playing to a small crowd (made so by another strong show that night at the Slowdown, Real Estate, which drew the same audience),I don’t think any of the 30 or so people at The Waiting Room expected what they got from frontman Samuel T. Herring. Never mind that the trio’s music, half of which was pre-recorded samples (including the synth-drum-percussion), is like an homage to early Factory Records / New Order dance tracks — dramatic and fun. It was Herring that was the centerpiece, an absolutely mesmerizing frontman intent on connecting with the audience eye-to-eye from the stage.He looks like a young Streetcar Brando combined with Deliverance Burt Reynolds and Kirkian Shatner, but with the intensity of a Rollins or Morrissey. He owned the stage like a Shakespearean actor performing a spotlight soliloquy with a voice that ranged somewhere between Richard Burton, Pee Wee Herman (in la-la-la-la mode), a monster and Billy Idol. Like a caged gorilla pacing with knuckles dragging on the floor, Herring leaned down trying to glean any sort of eye contact from anyone who would look at him, shifting from one to one to one to one. Dramatic, and the stage lighting only added to the drama — colored floor-mounted flood lights (think Mercy Rule but with colored gels).But then between songs, Herring turned into a bro’ just chilling with his roomful of new friends, laughing and talking about the road and how much he loved being on stage (despite, he said, his recent misgivings about performing). Charming. While all this was going on, keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and bass player William Cashion were stone. They never cracked a smile or changed expression. Welmers merely stared straight-faced at his battery of synth/computer equipment, poking out melodies while Brando pounded his chest and slapped himself in the face and bounced on all fours and held his hand skyward as if singing to a Hamlet skull or to an invisible moon. You can tell this guy was once an art student — or a closet thespian.One of the best performances I’ve seen this year.