Since Islands released their fifth studio album, Ski Mask, in September, frontman Nick Thorburn has repeatedly suggested that it may be the band’s last. So when it came to their live show, the question lingered…were the revered indie rockers really giving up?
By Thorburn’s entrance, it couldn’t be decided. Seated on the drum platform with a beer in one hand, he pushed himself up with the other and trudged toward the microphone. He spent a portion of the opener “Switched On” standing on a speaker with his back to the audience. The first words he spoke were “Las Vegas, what the fuck is going on?”
But after a couple of songs, it became obvious that the band wasn’t giving up, if anything, they were warming up. “Let’s do some drugs!” Thorburn joked, tousling his locks as he launched into “Becoming the Gunship.” On “Disarming the Car Bomb,” band mate Geordie Gordon loosened his own pomade-slickened strands banging out a keyboard solo with a Little Richard level of enthusiasm.
Further easing doubts, the band debuted a song that was “only a few days old,” entitled “Snowflake.” Its bouncing bass line was the sonic equivalent of the optimism instilled by the very idea of new music from Islands.
Then in the encore, after the commercial hit “Hallways,” during “Can’t Feel My Face,” Thorburn once again stepped on the speaker, this time using it to hoist his legs around a raised pipe and swing from the ceiling. He came down into the audience, touching fans on the shoulders and singing to their faces. In doing so, he was showing us that Islands are forever…at least a little while longer. ★★★★✩
Drowned in Sound
Becoming the Gunship
Disarming the Car Bomb
Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Whalebone
Can’t Feel My Face
Photos by Myron Hensel