Future Islands at The Casbah
With Ed Schrader's Music Beat
Saturday night’s sold out show at the Casbah featured Baltimore bands Ed Shrader’s Music Beat and Future Islands. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat is Ed Schrader on floor tom and vocals and Devlin Rice on bass and vocals. This band is what would happen if Ian Curtis of Joy Division joined up with Lightning Bolt.
Their songs alternated between dark and moody, and fast, distorted, and screamy. E.S.M.B. had songs about current events like Occupy and Qwikster, and cracked jokes between the songs. Given how simplistic their songs were, they were surprisingly engaging and intense as a band. Unsurprisingly, their debut album will be released by Load Records (long-time record label of Lightning Bolt) in the near future.
Future Islands, a Baltimore synth band that is constantly on tour, took the stage to a completely full room. There was definitely a buzz in the air before they started. Most of the set consisted of high-energy, danceable tracks from their two albums for Thrill Jockey, In Evening Air (2010), and On the Water (2011), although they played a few tracks dating back to the days when they were called Art Lord & the Self Portraits.
Future Islands operate like three separate entities onstage. Keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and bassist William Cashion stand like pillars on either end of the stage, neither of them showing any expression or movement for almost the entirety of the show. It’s as if frontman Samuel Herring sucks all the energy from the other two and adds it to his own performance - truly a sight you have to see in person. Herring dances/paces around the stage, yells, hits his torso with a closed fist over and over, and even jumps into the crowd. Upon first listen it would seem completely incongruous with the bright and fun sound of the music, but Herring sings with a soulfulness that makes the songs complete.