Future: Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, MD 1/10/09

Now, if your bands name is “Future” you have a lot to live up to, don’t you? As a caveat, allow me to note I for one think they need to change that over to “The Future”. It just sounds cooler when somebody asks “So who are you going to see tonight?” to say: “The Future man, The Future”. Just my double copper, but guys, if you’re reading this, seriously…

But that quibble aside, these guys have quite a bit of potential. Hailing from the mean streets of Northern Virginia, Future takes a genre busting approach to music, switching in and out of and sometimes fusing elements of funk, soul, psychedelia, gospel, hip hop, punk and rock into what often can be a very engaging blend. On Saturday night, they brought all these to a not large, but energetic (and feeding off the energy of a Ravens victory earlier in the day) crowd at the Rams Head Live in beautiful downtown Baltimore.

The focal points of the music are DJ/singer Chuck X., who is a very active frontman, alternately stalking the stage like a rapper and then changing up, jumping about and diving into the crowd like no less than HR himself, and guitarist/vocalist Gordon Sterling who combines his effect drenched guitar workouts with a huge, booming soul/gospel inflected voice that rang out loud and clear, even defeating the notoriously wretched Rams Head Live acoustics. It was simply stunning to hear him belt out his verses. They are ably supported by second guitarist James Helle, who combines with Sterling to give the band versatility and lend some depth to those aforementioned long psychedelic workouts and the rock sold rhythm section of Deron Pinchback on drums and Tony Moreno on bass, who manage to handle what can often be jarring time changes with aplomb. Also on hand for the final number was Candice Mills from the band “See-I” who provided her amazing pipes to the last song of the evening, trading off with Sterling in the best ear pleasing soul tradition. It was a real highlight. Those folks can sing their heads off, which is something you don’t get nearly enough from bands these days.

This could all go to pieces in the hands of those less capable, but Future finds ways to make it all work without sounding trite or silly.

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