live review: Future Islands @ 529, 7/19/2010 (setlist)

I guess a lot can change in a couple of months. When Future Islands played 529 on a Saturday night back in May, they played to a respectable but far from capacity crowd, many of whom seemed to be there for headliner Balkans. Last night was a different story. Future Islands were the headliner and clear main attraction, and they packed out 529 with moving (if not totally dancing) bodies. If it wasn’t a Monday night, I’m sure things would have been even better.

So, what has happened in those last two months? Word of mouth, probably. When they played here back in May, In Evening Air had just been released, and the positive reviews were just starting to come in. Since then there’s been more reviews, interviews, and profiles written, and their live show has prompted some to declare Sam Herring one of the most interesting frontmen in indie rock. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who caught them back in May showed up again last night, and that more than a few of them brought along friends.

If they keep playing shows like last night’s, the crowds are just going to keep growing. Herring is so interesting to watch and hear that even the slower songs like “An Inch of Dust” maintain the intensity, and the more upbeat ones like “Vireo’s Eye” or “Walking Through the Door” feel even more cathartic than they do on record. I haven’t been shy about how much I love In Evening Air, but it was nice to see some old songs pop up last night, too. They encored with “The Happiness of Being Twice” and “Little Dreamer,” the latter of which they played with all the house lights up in the interest of a more communal experience. Herring said they want to be open about what they do and how they’re doing it, so up went the lights. It was a nice moment, and an affecting way to end the show. Herring described “Little Dreamer” as a sad story that used to be a happy one, and it’s hard not to connect it to the breakup narrative that keeps popping up in the press surrounding the new album. It’s a reminder that no matter how over the top Herring might go on-stage, the emotions he’s expressing in capital letters are still genuine. It’s more than just showboating or empty performance art. When he thanks the audience for showing up and sharing in the experience, there’s no doubting his sincerity.

Setlist after the jump.

The Inkwell (new song)

An Inch of Dust

An Apology

Tin Man

Long Flight

Walking Through the Door

Old Friend

In the Fall

Vireo’s Eye

The Happiness of Being Twice

Little Dreamer

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  1. November 18th, 2010

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