7/23/15 – The Sinclair

If you ever need to break your shoes in, call up Bad Rabbits – the Boston-bred band danced their way through the set and wore out their fresh Converse hi-tops.

Opening for Future Islands at the latest Converse Rubber Tracks Live series, the Bad Rabbits crew danced and danced, moving from side to side, sliding across the stage in unison, guitars swaying with the beat. The crowd couldn’t help but mirror their moves, waving their hands with each slide. Lead singer Fredua Boakye tore up the setlist at his feet, prompting the question: “Ok, what’re we doing next?”

If you just listened to their recorded music, the Bad Rabbits-Future Island pairing might have seemed like a strange match. But in person, it made sense; both acts performed with such an intense energy, and the lead singers had dance moves that would have painted the stage black with scuff marks had it not already been. Combined, the two covered both extremes of the vocal range; While Boakye’s vocals shot up for ear-popping notes (of the Sam Smith register), while Future Islands’ Samuel Herring spent his time roaring low, growling screams that belonged more in a screamo metal band than an indie synth-pop one.

Then again, Herring’s performance itself was a mix of extremes. One minute, Herring was sharing sentimental stories – “This song is about a guy who went on tour for four months. And when he got back he realized he lost all the things he loved. It’s a true story,” he said before beginning “Long Flight” – and the next, he was furiously beating his chest with one hand in a manner that would put King Kong to shame. But Herring’s strange antics didn’t stop there. He speed-skated his way through “Seasons (Waiting On You)” dancing and sliding from side to side, and became a human sprinkler as he slapped his face, sweat flying through the air.

At one point, he recalled their first time in Boston, a grimy, Great Scott gig: “I was wearing a shirt that I was wearing for like, seven days. It smelled like garbage. It only gets worse as you heat up. And I was like, to the ten people there, it’s so good to be in Boston! And they’re like ‘Fuck you, it’s Allston!’” And his intro to “Sun In The Morning” prefaced the wardrobe-malfunction-to-be: “Seems like every time I come to Boston I rip my pants. I really don’t want to do it but I also wore my tightest pants.” Soon after, The Sinclair crew was handing him black duct tape to cover the new tear in his pants.

“Just tell people I sat in bubble gum,” he said, before sticking on what he deemed a “DIY jock strap.” It was no surprise his pants ripped; he had been dancing and lunging bizarrely throughout the set. It was like watching clips of Lord of the Rings, mashed up with a disco dance video; we watched a better-looking Gollum with killer moves belt songs into the air. Herring constantly had a crazed look in his eye, sinking to the ground, hunched over. It often felt like The Ring was present, only visible to him. He sang to his hand, watching his fingers as he slowly waved and twisted it in the air, occasionally kissing it. He even dived to the ground to save the invisible ring. (He didn’t go so far as to calling it his Precious, though.)

“This is a song about a man looking for his heart” he said, and the set came to a screeching close (literally, thanks to his harsh screams) with “Tin Man.”

Rip-Roaring Good Times: Future Islands
Pros
  • Energetic dance moves
  • Sentimental stories
  • So much eye contact with the crowd
Cons
  • Sometimes too much screaming
8.3Overall Score

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