Future Islands at House of Blues Anaheim - Photo: Steven Ward
Future Islands at House of Blues Anaheim – Photo: Steven Ward

Future Islands made their bombastic return to live shows this week, kicking off their tour at the House of Blues in Anaheim to a sold-out and absolutely mad crowd. Led by the original mad lad himself, frontman Samuel T. Herring was as much a conduit for the riotous energies that were coursing through the crowd as he was their very source. If there ever was a more perfect concert to shake loose all the stagnant woes and anxieties that have built themselves up within us during the last year-and-a-half, it was this one. Full of unbridled passion, Herring and company sought to obliterate whatever burdens you carried in through the sheer will of their songs.

When he wasn’t dancing mindlessly, letting the emotions that fueled his words roll over his body like a wave, to crowd favorites like “Seasons (Waiting on You)” or debuting their newest single “Peach” live, he was dishing out little pearls of wisdom to the crowd. A Future Islands show unfolds like a session of music-oriented therapy might: with Herring offering songs to the crowd and prefacing them with words about the kind of people they’re for, from the elastic driving melody of “Beauty of the Road” to the jaunty “The Painter.” For those who feel lost and alone, for people embarking on a new journey in their life, those who are missing loved ones — both gone only temporarily and those lost for this lifetime. With all the euphoric catharsis that oscillates from within their lush collisions of synth-pop that still echo Future Islands‘ raucously emotional beginnings, Herring led the band through a monstrous run-through of their discography that left the crowd overflowing with the blessed high for life that they came to be reminded of.

Oh, Rose opened the night for Future Islands — a last-minute replacement that was forced because Spanish rockers Hinds were unable to obtain their visas. Fronted by Olivia Rose, the Washington-based band gave a similarly galvanizing set to a crowd that wasn’t even expecting them. And yet the four-piece absolutely floored the crowd with their eclectic mixtures of gutting rock numbers, buoyant and riveting guitar lines, and bubbly synth-pop echoes. But it was without a doubt Rose’s vocals, one minute a pained growl and the next a stratospherically piercing wail, that stole the show and left the noise to fill every song’s end as massive applause.

Photos: Future Islands and Oh, Rose at House of Blues Anaheim