Imagine a “Deliverance” era Burt Reynolds, bobbing and weaving about like a caged speed-skater, singing with a style reminiscent of the iconic Fine Young Cannibals. Frontman Sam Herring and Future Islands explode on stage with a uniqueness that this sensory amalgamation just barely suggests.
The performance of “Seasons (Waiting on You),” showcased on Letterman and since viewed more than 1.3 million times on YouTube, offers an indelible glimpse of the group’s showmanship.
Charged lyrics like “You know — when people change / They gain a peace, but they lose one too” and “Come see me through / Come through the sea / To share / To bare / The light inside of you” make it easy to appreciate Herring’s passionate on-stage theatrics.
Herring uses his songwriting to tell often very personal stories. Several of the most memorable come from Future Island’s first two albums, while each one of the 10 new songs on the 2014 album “Singles” consume listeners with a wave of emotions.
In live concert mode, the charismatic Herring humbly introduces the impetus for each song before he proceeds to mesmerize the audience — on this occasion at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz – with his now-infamous smooth-dance moves and vocal gymnastics. (Several songs into the set he surveys his sweat-drenched dress shirt, notices one dry spot, and laughs as he declares that it too will be wet by the end of the next song.)
The challenge for fans obsessed with the incomparable Future Islands is to find new ways to tell friends about the best new music of this year and beyond.