• Dennis

  • Joe McCabe / The Denver Post

    Sam Herring of Future Islands performs at South By Southwest Music Festival in March.



It’s sad to say that David Letterman is done. After a long career, his final episode last week featured a ton of guests representing all decades of the “Late Show.”

I’ve always loved watching the musical acts perform. When I was a kid, I would videotape episodes just to watch the musical performance at the end. Even up until the last chapter of the show, I
recorded episodes (now, with the magic of DVR) just for the music.

And judging by critics’ recent top lists of performances, I was clearly not alone. For the most part, critics agreed on the top acts that featured a standard list of the Foo Fighters, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and… Future Islands?

Yes, Future Islands. A band that is so painfully generic in its indie rock sound that, without Letterman, you may have never discovered. Still, many critics agree that it was truly a memorable performance.

And I agree with the critics. For some reason, hours before Letterman’s last show, it was the only performance I could actually remember. Sure, I ended up recalling many of my favorites over the years, like The Smashing Pumpkins and Mute Math, but the Future Islands performance will probably stick out forever in my mind.

I had heard the band’s song before I saw the late-night performance, I probably would have fallen asleep. It features an upbeat tempo, with generic hipster synths.

However, the performance is one you have to see to believe. Three guys — who look like the average My Morning Jacket wannabes — blend in the background and try to act to cool as they play their instruments.

Meanwhile, apparently nobody told lead singer Sam Herring that the band was aiming for something a bit more mediocre
in “Seasons (Waiting on You).” The performance becomes all about the slightly creepy and seemingly drug-possessed guy dressed in black. Clearly rhythm is not his thing, as he was dancing in weird patterns while slouched over — similar to those who’ve had too much to drink at the Louisville Street Fair. The whole time, he would look off in the distance, almost like he was communicating with aliens about what odd dance move he should perform next.

What would have otherwise been bland became a hilarious, yet strange display of musicianship. Adding to the oddity, and perhaps the most iconic part of the performance, was the singer’s guttural screams that he belted out at random. They didn’t even slightly fit the happy indie-pop tune, and were easily the most hilarious part of the performance.

Lead singers are often the ones who make a band iconic, and this rings absolutely true for Future Islands. In many instances, what makes a great lead singer is solely based on image, and this guy will add to his repertoire as being the one who danced like a freaking drug-possessed lunatic on Letterman.

And this is what I’ve always loved about the Letterman musical acts — they always offered a chance for up-and-coming artists to get their names out on national television, and a chance for viewers to see an iconic and unique performance.

The show will be missed by the music industry. For years, Letterman gave artists like Future Islands that chance to make a name, and

that’s what helps keeps excitement in the industry.

Caleb Dennis: twitter.com/TheWriterCalebD

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