Coinciding with this year’s edition of Coachella, there was a damn near month of top-notch shows from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and beyond.

On a recent Tuesday night in Santa Monica, Future Islands usurped the stage to record a robust 16-song live performance and interview with Jason Bentley for an upcoming broadcast on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. Sandwiched between their Sunday sets at Coachella, Baltimore’s best is on tour to support new LP, The Far Field.

In many ways, the album is a continuation of the emotional magic on Future Islands’ 2014 breakout effort, Singles. The band’s performance, too, was in step with live appearances that made them famous.

You have William Cashion’s liquidy bass grooves, Gerrit Welmers’ masterful keys and buttons work hidden under a stoic presence, and then of course, the wild card of Samuel Herring as otherworldly front man with a Victor Price growl, and a cache of moves that will make your head spin. Altogether, it’s a emotionally dizzying experience, and a sort of wistful disco for hopeless romantics.

Future Islands preceded their set (and new album) opener “Aladdin,” as they do all shows – with a team huddle and handshake. Before you knew it, Herring was snatching imaginary stars from the sky, reeling them in, and then singing to them as they sparkled in his grasp. Cashion wasted no time in bringing the room up and down staircases with a trademark circular bass line.

During “Beauty of the Road,” Herring somehow melded cutting a rug with a mimed version of a hanging himself with a noose. But he let himself off the hook, resolving to lose himself with another hybrid concoction; a joker’s-grin-turned thousand-yard-stare of longing during the desperate refrain of “Time on Her Side.”

By the fourth song, “Walking Through That Door,” Mr. Herring had self-flagellated his own skull until a bright red mark appeared as backdrop to cascading beads of sweat. Ever loathe to rest, he turned outward and worked the front row like a politician, singing eye-to-eye with audience members, then lunging side to side like a skulking speed skater.

The set included all but one song off of The Far Field. Touring drummer Mike Lowry laid down excellent work on new one, “Day Glow Fire,” which segued in to “Through the Roses.” The latter contains an affirmation that could aptly sum up the resolve in Future Islands’ ethos: we can pull through, together.

Perhaps the high point of the LP, “North Star” kicked off with a Talking Heads head-bobbing groove, and then saw Herring battling the elements for his dear against a howling synth wind.

The latter part of the set reached farther back in to the catalogue for “Seasons,” the song which buttered the band’s bread, and a few particularly emotional cuts in the encore (“Black Rose,” “Tin Man,” and the wrenchingly beautiful, “Little Dreamer”).

The evening began with a discussion between Future Islands (Herring, Cashion, and Welmers) and KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley. Details are to be saved for the broadcast, but the conversation touched on Herring’s mom’s observation on the band, their unique relationship with fellow Baltimore artist Dan Deacon (and his Daffy Duck t-shirt), and Future Islands’ beginnings “in the neon days of the early 00’s,” as “wild feral children with crazy ideas.”

For a relatively brief exchange, the interview sheds much light on the history and inner workings of the group, and how the “succinctness of form” in The Far Field is a logical output at this point in their evolution. Listen in, and find out which new song contains a discrete shout out to James Taylor.

KCRW will broadcast portions of Future Islands’ set and interview on Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday, May 9.

Future Islands is back in LA at the Greek Theater on September 19.

All photos by Brian Feinzimer

KCRW’s Apogee Sessions featuring Future Islands Setlist

Aladdin
Beauty of the Road
Time on Her Side
Walking Through That Door
Ran
Cave
Candles
Day Glow Fire
Through the Roses
Ancient Water
North Star
Seasons
Balance
______________

Black Rose
Tin Man
Little Dreamer

For more information:

Future Islands
KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic