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Live Review: Future Islands at Doug Fir Lounge

Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, at Doug Fir Lounge

Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, at Doug Fir Lounge

Devan Schwartz/OPB

“Really look at your life, even if just for a night,” said Samuel T. Herring, the Future Islands lead singer during Saturday’s jam-packed show at the Doug Fir. The prominent basement venue reverberated with the sounds of the Baltimore-based synth-pop group throughout a performance that pushed well past midnight.
Recently, the group been going supernova — on the strength of a notable Late Show With Dave Letterman performance and the recent release of their LP, “Singles.”
Future Islands emphasized their latest album, with notable tracks including “Seasons (Waiting on You),” “Back in the Tall Grass,” “A Dream of You and Me.” They also dipped into songs off their 2010 and 2011 releases (“In Evening Air,” “On the Water”).
Although the band has obvious talent on bass, drums and keyboard, all eyes at the Doug Fir were on the frontman and his irrepressible showmanship. Herring pranced and preened and shook with frenetic beauty. He pounded his chest like a wounded saluting soldier. He step-danced like a fifties fop. His voice ranged from high and affected to low and guttural to deep and demonic.
By the end of the show, actual blood dripped from Herring’s elbow. Sweat greased the singer’s black t-shirt. None of it stopped fans from touching him as he reached out.
For their part, the crowd was devoted, obedient. They listened as he spoke, sang in unison with him, and created vestiges of a mosh pit. Based on the band’s growing popularity, they will be booked at a larger venue during their next visit to Portland.
After the encore, the house lights revealed a milieu of broken bottles and astounded faces – reflecting the raw yet polished performance they had just witnessed.

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