Future Islands, Ear Pwr, Shield Your Eyes @ Brighton Freebutt
Future Islands, Ear Pwr, Shield Your Eyes.
Brighton Freebutt. 15sep09.
Judging by their opening couple of numbers it might be easy to cast Shield Your Eyes as just another run-of-the-mill post-punk/hardcore band. However, little bits of Hendrix-like magic squeeze out amidst the only-vaguely-in-control scream of vocalist/guitarist Stef Ketteringham. The guitar work and the bass are lithe and intense, but it is drummer Henri George that is in charge here. Usually all eyes are on whoever has got their mouth to the mic but this evening it is the man with the sticks that demands the attention with his percussive dexterity. He raises the bar and Ketteringham and bassist Tobias Hayes come to meet his challenge.
A solid foundation for the evening having been laid, Ear Pwr then come on and immediately own the dance floor, if for no other reason than they set up their table-top operation in the middle of it. Devin Booze flails around the arc of punters to the point where the stale sweat of the sleeping-in-the-van-and-travelling-light-clothing-wise US-band-on-tour becomes all too evident. He ensnares several front-rowers with the loop of the mic cord, whilst Sarah J. Reynolds hops up onto the stage for a short visit, before collapsing to the commandeered dance-floor singing into her partner’s mic now dangling down by her face. The songs such as I Like Waterslide and Future Eyes swirl around, all echo and pulsating electro, morphing together into one long, chaotically exhilarating performance.
Baltimore’s Future Islands are returning to the UK not long after their long-stint travelling around as part of the Wham City collective with Dan Deacon, and continue to offer more bounce and durability than an inflatable castle at Fat Camp. A Future Islands show is all about the fling, both in terms of Sam Herring’s infectious physicality, and the way the playschool chirp of J. Gerrit Welmers’ synth lines and William Cashion’s bass collide with Herring’s lyrical melancholy and arresting vocal performance that veers from a Rex Harrison-like waspishness to a Joe Cocker-esque dry growl.
Welmers and Cashion are studious behind their instruments whilst Herring bounds around like an uncaged ape, a ball of energy dripping with a quota of sweat usually attributable to a nelson of wrestlers after a particularly rigorous battle royale. They require two attempts at single Pinocchio after the bass amp switches off mid-way through take one, Herring quipping, “if it doesn’t happen next time, that’s it for Pinocchio. That song will be dead to me.” Happily, the amp plays ball when the eventually return to it, as it is, along with Tin Man, a clear highlight of their set.
They finish with their haunting ballad, Little Dreamer but are then requested to return for “one more…and make it a feisty one” from a particularly demanding audience member. Clearly a giving band, Future Islands were more than happy to oblige.
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