Listening Party Live: All Of It featuring Future Islands
Originally Aired: Tuesday, January 23, 2024
*FREE livestream available. Visit this page on 1/23 to watch the show live.
Join All Of It host Alison Stewart in-conversation with the new wave synth-pop band Future Islands and hear them perform songs from their newest album, People Who Aren’t There Anymore.
Doors open at 6PM; show starts promptly at 7PM; there is no opening act.
All Of It with Alison Stewart is a live daily conversation about culture and the culture in and around New York City.
Credit: Photo by Frank Hamilton
Future Islands is a new wave synthpop band composed of Gerrit Welmers (keyboards and programming), William Cashion (bass, acoustic and electric guitars), and Samuel T. Herring (lyrics and vocals). Their sound has been described as “terse yet passionate music wrought from a stripped back palette,” where “Gerrit Welmers’ synthesizer melodies tumble across the austere wilderness of William Cashion’s post-punk bass pulse, driven ever forward by ecstatic electronic rhythms.”
From their start, Future Islands have been singular and instantly identifiable. Samuel T. Herring’s life-worn croons and cries backlit by Gerrit Welmers’ melodies and charged by the rhythms of William Cashion and Michael Lowry. That premise hasn’t changed on their newest album, People Who Aren’t There Anymore, but the people have. There’s a pain and a joy that’s in Herring’s voice that’s only been rivaled by their legendary live performances, but never captured in their studio albums, that feels like it’s been untethered for the first time.
Herring brought that enigmatic live performance to the small screen for the first time in 2023 (with his riveting ‘how-had-this-not-already-happened’ acting debut in Apple TV’s The Changeling), and you can hear the confidence of someone who was challenged by, but ultimately unlocked, a new art form on the fly.
Future Islands finished their last album, As Long As You Are, just as the world shut down in 2020. Since 2006, they’d been tireless in their touring, doing so much healing, living, and grieving onstage, until abruptly, there was nowhere to go, no more stages. Divorce, separation, cross-country and cross-continental moves, a new birth, exploring new mediums – all would present themselves as the process for making People Who Aren’t There Anymore began.
Herring and Cashion found themselves both pinned beneath upending breakups, with Herring unhappily returning to the room he rented in a former Baltimore punk house after spending years in Sweden with a partner, and Cashion heading west to Los Angeles after a divorce. What did it mean for Herring that he couldn’t find lasting stability, he wondered aloud in “The Thief,” or that his life seemed to be a series of loops with paradoxical dead ends? He’s living through therapy, out loud and on tape here, and he vows to keep trying. “I’ll stay, because I won’t give you up,” he sings like a mantra to and of himself – this is music for getting on with the living.
Future Islands’ other half—keyboardist Gerrit Welmers and drummer Mike Lowry—had remained in Baltimore, with Welmers becoming a new father. Their roles within the band evolved. Welmers began salvaging busted synthesizers and incorporating them into sessions, and Lowry’s expansive musical interests became central to songs for the first time. “Iris,” a crucial testimonial about trying to break hard old habits, emerged from a beat inspired by the obscure 1978 debut of Niger’s Mamman Sani, and became the fitting core of People’s emotional fulcrum, where it pivots from the past toward something better.
Future Islands have played nearly 1,500 shows – shows that have bruised bodies, frayed vocal cords, provided escapes for audiences, and healed their messengers. People Who Aren’t There Anymore is a major work from a band at an inflection point: they’re discovering new ways to experience the world, because the old ways weren’t working. That freedom has led to the most fully realized, most transparently honest statement in their 17 years as a band.
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