Future Islands just played The Andy Warhol Museum in November, but that was before the viral video of "Seasons (Waiting for You)" and before the release of the album, "Singles," in March.
The synth-rock band -- just keyboards, bass, drums and vocals -- now returns for a show at Mr. Smalls Friday night that had no problem selling out.
Future Islands, which formed in Greenville, N.C., in 2006 and relocated to Baltimore, is no stranger to folks who frequent the Brillobox. The band is just breaking wider now, though, with this fourth album, partly because of the record's bolder sonics, the band's performance at Coachella and also the jaw-dropping "Letterman" performance, which certainly got people talking about singer Samuel T. Herring.
Not the average-looking rock frontman, he bears a resemblance to a younger Brando, so you almost expect him to yell "Stella!" He's got the brute romantic thing down, beating his chest, dancing as if he's doing aerobics and even jolting his earnest love songs with harsh death metal growls.
The "Letterman" video lit up comments sections, with some viewers thinking it was the best thing they'd ever seen and others wondering if it were a joke.
Mr. Herring, who just came back from an overseas tour and was not doing interviews in advance of the Mr. Smalls show, acknowledged to the Minneapolis City Pages that he might be an acquired taste.
"I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people who are just like, 'I used to hate your band, and then I actually sat down and listened a couple times, and now I can't stop listening.' Even recent stuff with the whole [Late Show With David Letterman] performance, you'll find people online who were just like, 'I hated this,' and then two weeks later they come back and they're like, 'I can't stop watching this now.' "
Not everyone is prepared for Mr. Herring's sincerity in delivering a lyric like, "Sun in the morning/Mu sun, every morning/My star of the evening/My moon, always beaming."
"I think it takes a while for it to sink in," he told City Pages. "This isn't a joke. This isn't ironic. This is just us being as honest as possible in our music. Sometimes people can't accept that at first. They want the sheen, they want the glimmer, they want the catch, hook or the nice light voice, and when they don't get those things at first, not everyone understands. Some people get it right off, but sometimes it takes some time for people. Those are the people that you really want to get to ..."
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg