“Sometimes it can’t be warm on the outside so we have to warm it up on the inside,” Sam Herring, frontman for Future Islands, told a rambunctious crowd Thursday night at New York’s Terminal 5 concert venue, their first in a two-night series. Future Islands aren’t a new band—their first release together came with 2006’s Little Advances—but thanks to an electric Letterman performance last spring (one of EW‘s top videos of the year), Herring has been playing to bigger and bigger crowds and beguiling them with his with his arsenal of grave crooning, death-metal roars, and propulsive dance moves.
Thursday’s show was just the band’s second time playing Terminal 5, a 3,000 person venue, and their biggest U.S. show to date. Their first appearance here was back in 2011 where, Herring told the crowd in his slightly Southern lilt, the band played to just about a hundred people. Thursday night saw a sold out crowd of dancers, moshers, and bodysurfers ready to dance, jump, and mosh as prompted. (“I wanna see what kind of moves y’all got!” Herring declared at the opening of “Doves.”)
While the rest of his group are efficient, heads-down performers, Herring puts on a rare show. Chest-thumping, growling, jumping, slinking, kicking, and at times crawling around the stage, he moves through and between songs at breakneck speed, stopping only long enough to fit in a “Let’s keep the show going!” or “Let’s shut the f–k up and keep it going!” The crowd responds in turn: less than halfway through the set the room was as sweaty and thumping as any dance floor in the city, and stayed that way through the two-song encore.
“Seasons (Waiting On You),” “Balance,” and “Tin Man” got the biggest responses, as well as the biggest performances from Herring—and they were followed by several sincere thank-yous to the crowd. It’s a special thing to see a band so exceptionally excited to exhaust themselves on stage.
Future Islands is touring through March. All dates are listed here.