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The Futureheads
June 16, 2005 - Neumo’s - Seattle, WA
by Catherine Mun

I was right on time. The show started at 9:00pm but my intuition as to when the headliners would be coming on stage was spot on. As a result of my late arrival, a spot in the back seemed decent. I wasn’t anywhere near the stage but it would suffice for my purpose. 

There were at least 200 people; people hanging over the balcony railings (me included), and not a single square of the (possibly checkered) floor visible from the aerial view I had--it was a packed house. The Futureheads came out at exactly 10:52pm. Their amiable visage was pleasant and radiant. Black, white, and red striped cardboard (or wood) cut-outs created layers of space along the edges of the stage while the letters forming “THE FUTUREHEADS” in Pac-Man-like font decorated the back wall. The flippant flair of Barry Hyde’s (23) voice (somewhat reminiscent of Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays’, I decided) resonated immediately throughout Neumo’s. I can’t recall their opening song but that’s inconsequential because by then, I was already preoccupied.

With a total of 19 songs that night including 3 for their encore, their set list consisted of the tunes from their self-titled LP released October 26 of last year, such as “Robot,” “A to B," “Meantime," “Stupid and Shallow," “Alms," “He Knows," with the encore subset consisting of the tunes, “Le Garage," “Danger of the Water," and ending the night with, “Piece of Crap." "Picture of Dorian Gray," also an older work, was sung that night as well.

Overall, stage acts were limited; Couple of duo guitar riffs, a guitar pose over the head, and the rocker stance with the bum facing us. For the last song, The Futureheads made a nice gesture of introducing the band members, their instruments, and short bios which I was fortunate enough to catch as I headed out.

I would have to say that I enjoyed bobbing my head and locking my knees only in the beginning and at the end of the show because of the dragging down time in between. I could tell you all of the colors that beamed in my face that night from strobe light display because that’s the only thing that didn’t remain constant! The songs began to sound the same and their level of activity for each one remained low too. I entertained myself to see if they were all in the same key as well.

The crowd wasn’t bored, however. Their clapping hands were raised and a wave of shaking heads and swaying hips signified some energy equivalent to that which they perceived on stage. There were several interactive instances that kept me alert, though. In “Hounds of Love” (the best cover I’ve heard in a while), I was assisted by guitar and vocalist, Ross Millard (22) with the “Ah uh oh”, while bassist, Jaff (22) led the other half.

Hearing about The Futureheads for the first time, I did my homework. After hearing their album, I instantly distinguished my most favorable tracks where all their positive elements prevailed from the rest; “Hounds of Love”, a cover of Kate Bush, and “Man Ray”. For those that are new to The Futureheads, maybe you should start off with these first; I didn’t get such a recommendation.
I remember being a little skeptical about their upcoming live performance. I didn’t fully agree with the one thing I identified to be their most influential weapon to slice through today’s music industry; their voice interplay! My primary thoughts focused more on the amount of work that could have been put in the numerous layers of harmonies and combinations of syncopated exchange. I have to admit, the music wasn’t “a piece of crap”; but it wasn’t the shi* either.

But with all new things in life, my approach to The Futureheads and their show was optimistic soon after. And just like I had hoped, my reluctant inclinations to attend were soon dismissed by the genuine and wholesome attitude of their role on stage and in their music, and that much was clear to me as crystal. With the Futureheads, I was able to eliminate all that I didn’t quite get yet, and fixate on that fresh feature present in their songs; their conversation of vocals. It was that idea that I agreed to adopt, and seeing it integrated throughout their live show corrected my doubts.

Whatever the scenario is and despite the work that lies ahead of them, just to witness the growth and potential that the young Futureheads can mark in today’s music is enough of an incentive for me to go see them again.