I messed up at The Antlers show. I was worn down and worn out. Had gone out to the Catskills the night before, drank heavily, dealt with a friend’s nervous breakdown, nursed a hangover in the morning, and drove back two hours to NY. I took a disco nap but I was bruised and battered and really just not in the mood. Plus, Webster Hall is not my favorite venue.
It doesn’t seem to match The Antlers either. Too glossy and pretentious for Silberman’s soul shattering falsettos and the impalpable sadness that takes hold of you when listening to them. Webster Hall should be great – the spooky staircases and the ghostly-lit chandeliers in the main hall make you feel like you’re a visitor in someone’s memory. Maybe it’s the crowd that ends up there, the interruption of your flow by scantily clad teenagers in the “club” on the first floor, the disgusting bathrooms. The point is, I’d been looking forward to The Antlers for so long and I really wasn’t in the right place – mentally, spiritually or physically.
In spite of this, The Antlers were, as expected, devastatingly beautiful. Songs were transformed to fit the concert vibe – louder and longer with flashing lights, but they accomplished this with aplomb and without distorting their intimate sound. My favorites on the album were also my favorite live – No Widows, Hounds, French Exit, I Don’t Want Love.
And then there was Putting the Dog to Sleep. This song kills me with its tear-jerking guitar and bluesy drum. The melody goes in circles, like a whirlpool and this memory of a dream I had once always pops into my head.
I’m at this bar in some nameless town that’s been deserted because there’s a hurricane coming. I’m wearing a red sun dress because it isn’t cold, just gray and white and gloomy. I’m drinking a lot bourbon and slow dancing with this man who has been, up until this moment, intent on making it as difficult as possible to love him. The hurricane is not far off and we might die in it but it’s too late to escape our fate. So we continue to dance and drink straight from the bottle and stay close to each other and confess our final secrets and wait for the hurricane to come and do its worst. We’re scared, of course, but not alone. And of the terrible ways we treated each other when death was not at the door – it just doesn’t matter anymore.
Future Islands makes me what to go ahead and quit my job. I’ll follow them around the country and across the seas – panhandle for ticket money, flirt for drinks. Maybe they’d let me run the merch table. This could work out.
It’s no secret. I’ve been under a Future Islands spell all year. I can’t play it cool. I gush like a idiot. I turn them on and on and on again, knowing full well that listing to them is going to rip up my soul, but I just can’t stop. Every time I think I’m tired of them, I start to miss them. What is it that keeps me coming back for more?
Well, there’s Sam Herring. A man, not boy, of boundless, almost reckless energy. It took a second to get used to him lunging at us from the edge of the stage but by the end, we were all charmed. A special call out to keyboardist Gerrit Welmers. He really is a secret weapon. He lightens the darkness, makes you feel like you’re in a cathedral on one song and at a carnival on another.
I think I keep coming back because Future Islands awakens epic emotions in my modern heart. These anthems, these canticles, these cries – they just don’t fit in this day and age. Instead of irreverence, they play with imagination. They abandon the nostalgia and tinker with memory. If only for a moment, they shake us up and break us out of our little worlds.
This duo from Baltimore opened up for Future Islands at the Bowery Ballroom. Ed Schrader is on drums and sings, Delvin Rice is on bass, and that is absolutely all they need.
On one level, they’re just singing goofy tunes – Schrader used to be a stand-up comic and all of us that missed out on those gigs are very sad about that. But there’s something running under the radar of these seemingly silly ditties. Schrader is hilarious stage presence turns haunting on a dime. The songs are as short as pissed off suicide notes. Punk revels are broken here and there by almost sorrowful soliloquies. Most songs have quipster titles: I Can’t Stop Eating Sugar, Beautiful Transvestite In the Rain, Gas Station Attendant, In My Car – There was one song that Schrader dedicated to REM. It seemed sincere, no jokes, no screaming – I was, dare I say, moved. Let’s cross our fingers that these two put together a proper recording.
In a world where everyone seems to be trying so hard to sound just like everyone else,– Ed Schrader seems like he’d really just like to help us snap out of it and have a good laugh with him.
Can you call them a band? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s sort of missing the point. This project doesn’t seem to be trying to hit it big with their music. They will most probably never sell out Madison Square Gardens and thank God for that. I can never afford seeing anything there anyway.
Future Islands was off the hook. Sprinkles said he was going to write about it. We’ll all have to wait…