Review by Kevin Donnellan
Photos by Ronan Shaw

Have you seen the ‘All My Friends are Dickheads‘ video on YouTube? No? Check it out now, you’ll need to watch it to get this opening paragraph, it’s ok I’ll wait…..Done? It’s good isn’t it? The problem with it is that you need to be a bit of a dickhead yourself to get most of the references. Fixed gear bike, big fake glasses, synths. I’m definitely a dickhead cause I got it all. Vegan crunk night indeed…

Anyway the cast of the ‘All My Friends Are Dickheads’ video were out in force on Wednesday night for the Future Islands gig in The Workman’s Club. I was coming to the gig in blissful ignorance, I’d heard good things about the band without ever actually hearing any of their music. And the sheer trendiness of the crowd almost put me off at the start. I started to picture a crowd of synth-playing, ironic moustache sporting, fixed-gear bike riding, pretentious art school students striding on stage. All style and no substance. All mouth and no loose-fitting trousers. But it turns out that scenesters (hipsters, call them what you will) have got it right with this band, because Future Island were savage (I’m bringing back savage as an acceptable adjective, it’ll be used by all the hippest people quite soon, promise..).

Firstly, the Baltimore three piece are not cool at all, they just happen to play music that cool kids like. For someone as shallow and insecure as me this is a major plus – it means I don’t envy and hate them right from the start. But – as Simon Cowell is wont to say as he kicks off another tearful X Factor wannabe – it’s all about the music. And the music is great. The crowd are won over from the start, it takes me a bit longer to come around, but at around song three I’m a convert.

Singer Sam Herring is a revelation. First off, he looks like Meatloaf, there’s no getting around it, a quick google search reveals that every Future Islands gig refers to it. But how can you not mention it when it’s one of your main thoughts for the hour that the band are on stage? “Oh my god he looks like Meatloaf, oh my god he looks like Meatloaf, oh my god he looks like Meatloaf”. But his voice means that it’s not the sole thing that strikes you. His voice is rich, deep and theatric. It adds gravitas to the lyrics and when you’re in a synth-led post-wave (Wikipedia’s word, not mine) band that’s a tricky feat to pull of without looking ridiculous. It’s also refreshing to see a singer so unashamedly involved in his performance – hand gestures abound. With a lesser or less charismatic singer the act would be cringe-worthy but this guy pulls it off – he’s just so likable.

The tunes themselves help as well of course. Big Super-Mario-Brothers-Boss-Level beats drive the crowd on and create a proper party atmosphere. The packed venue helps but these guys could play to a crowd of three and put them in a good mood. They won’t be back in these parts for a while (though surely a Electric Picnic slot would be perfect for them?) but in the meantime they should be going on everyone’s houseparty playlist. Sometimes the dickheads know what their at…