1 Year (And A Bit) On: Remembering Future Island's Career-Changing Letterman Performance

It started with a growl...
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It started with a growl...

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Every once in a while, a live performance comes along that defines a band’s career. A performance that is so good, it deserves its own article commemorating the one-year (and a bit) anniversary since it was placed on YouTube and took the music scene by storm.

Future Islands’ appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman last year on the 3rd March catapulted the band into viral stardom, when their performance of single ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ was placed online the day after. Since then it has been viewed 3,702,304 times, for which I feel I am personally responsible for at least two million of those.

To put those figures into perspective, David Letterman announcing his retirement on the show has fewer views. A Foo Fighters performance of ‘War Pigs’ has fewer views. In fact, the only musical act from that year that has been watched more times is, unsurprisingly, the creator of music as we know it and all round great person, Taylor Swift.

But to lump their performance into the viral video bracket would be unfair. I mean, it’s not quite a funny looking cat hilariously pushing things off a table or a song about the day Friday, but lets give credit where it’s due. Their album Singles was one of the releases of 2014 and proves that their cut of skewed, electro-indie doesn’t stem from their lead single alone.

‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ went on to be named best track of 2014 in a number of publications and became a certain dancefloor filler at any rock/alt/indie club worth mentioning. Four albums in and years of hard grafting were finally paying off for the band and, with the addition of a tour drummer adding an extra dynamic to their live act, Future Islands were finally getting the success they deserved.

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Enigmatic front man Sam Herring has never lacked confidence and his stage presence along with his vocal style started drawing comparisons with all walks of musical royalty. From Tom Waits to Mike Patton, from Morrissey to Henry Rollins, no one quite knew where he fitted in. With every high kick, thump to the chest and fist pump though, Herring’s death metal growls were winning over fans from all over the world.

Sold out tours, numerous festival appearances and prestigious support slots confirmed just how far Future Islands had grown in popularity. One performance springs to mind when appearing on the same bill as Arcade Fire over the summer at a very hot and clammy Hyde Park gig.

It seemed Herring was immediately sweating before even one hip grind and the eager and interested crowd grew and grew as the set went on. A friend of mine admitted that he only went to the concert because Future Islands were playing. Arguably one of the biggest bands in the world was not a big enough draw for him to attend what was obviously going to be another great Arcade Fire show. Future Islands on the other hand.

Their meteoric rise from alt-underground sweethearts to mainstream big-hitters doesn’t look like slowing down in 2015. Two sold out shows at the Roundhouse await them at the end of March, both of which arrive after playing Noel Gallagher’s Teenage Cancer Trust gig at the Royal Albert Hall. They’ll also return to Hyde Park as well, this time supporting The Strokes in what will be the New Yorkers first UK appearance in four years.

So approximately one year and a few days on, I sit back and remember opening the video link that someone had sent me, unaware that what I was about to witness would go down in some echelon of musical history. Sam Herring’s stage moves are forever etched into mine and many others memories as we eagerly await the next chapter in one of the most compelling live bands in years.

Long live Future Islands.