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Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #5 Future Islands – Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)

Future Islands live at Ottawa Bluesfest 2015

Artist: Future Islands
When: Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
Where: Bell Stage at 7:00pm
Context: (You may have noticed there wasn’t a ‘great set’ yesterday. This is because Bluesfest normally takes one day off during the festival, a sort of breather in the middle of the marathon, and it is typically the Monday. But now we’re right back to it. Enjoy the homestretch.)

I had been lukewarm on Future Islands since first hearing them back in 2010, really only enjoying a handful of songs and being only slightly more than ambivalent about the rest, but that one live performance I caught back in 2015 changed all that.

Frontman, Samuel T. Herring was quite the showman, all dramatic gestures and dancing all over the stage, and that’s something I wasn’t at all expecting. We all know about that crazy voice of his. It really is one of a kind. Watching him, you have no idea where it comes from, switching from lounge lizard to Tom Waits growl in an instant, much to the appreciation of the crowd. Indeed, he seemed hell-bent determined to connect with each and every audience member while the band behind him, Gerrit Welmers (synths) and William Cashion (guitars) and touring drummer, Michael Lowry, were just there, almost emotionless and motionless, providing a dense, synth pop palette upon which for Herring to work.

I found myself dancing along only three songs in and I wasn’t the only one. It was all a big Future Islands love fest party. And then… the skies opened up. Yes. It was another one of those sets.

Umbrellas and parkas came out and those without were soaked, including those on the stage. Yet to my surprise, they soldiered on, despite the downpour, and when the song they were playing finished, they started right into their popular single, “Seasons (waiting on you)” while the stage crew ran about the stage covering up equipment. The dancing picked up even more (if that can be imagined) and just when I thought the plug was being pulled, the band convinced the festival organizers to allow them to play one more song, “Spirit”, performed with much of the same gusto, Herring slapping emphatically at his chest through his rain drenched shirt. And amazingly, he called all of us warriors, in kind of a pot and kettle sort of way. It was awesome, a set I’m sure to never forget.

The intensity of Samuel T Herring
Gerrit Welmers and Samuel T Herring of Future Islands
Michael Lowry on drums
William Cashion of Future Islands
Gerrit Welmers, Samuel T Herring, and Michael Lowry, just as the rain is beginning
Samuel T Herring singing in the rain… downpour

Back in the Tall Grass
A Dream of You and Me
Walking Through That Door
Long Flight
Before the Bridge
The Chase
A Song for Our Grandfathers
Light House
Seasons (Waiting on You)

4 replies on “Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #5 Future Islands – Tuesday, July 14th, 2015”

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