Five thoughts on Islands’ January 24 show at Beauty Bar

Islands, performing inside Beauty Bar on January 24.
Photo: Spencer Burton

1. Beauty Bar should have more shows inside. Its small interior makes any show look well-attended, though Friday’s didn’t need helping. The turnout for Islands was huge, like, near capacity—not surprising when you realize most nostalgia-bent 25-year-olds there were 15 when they first heard Return to the Sea. More surprising was Beauty Bar’s mix, solid if you landed a spot anywhere but behind the stage.

2. Singer Nick Thorburn is a showman. Mix The Hives’ Howlin' Pelle Almqvist with Freddie Mercury and you’ll get something close to Thorburn, who greeted the crowd zealously with, “Las Vegas, what the f*ck is going on?” Islands opened with the low-key “Switched On” from 2009’s Vapours before diving into cuts from latest album Ski Mask. On “Death Drive,” Thorburn moved to the ledge of the stage, gripping the pipe attached to the ceiling above him as he leaned into the crowd, bringing his casual theatrics to even the most understated songs.

3. “Let’s do some drugs,” Thorburn said, before venturing into one of my Ski Mask favorites, “Gunship.” The song marked a turn in the set—it was followed by an onslaught of dancier tracks with quick disco beats, twinkling keys and magnetic guitars. “The last time we were here on Halloween,” Thorburn says, “I saw a bunch of people dressed like they were coming out of a Jimmy Buffett concert.”

4. Islands unveiled post-Ski Mask song “Snowflake,” hinting at Vampire Weekend’s Caribbean-styled sensibilities, before going deeper into its eight-year catalog and appeasing fans with “Volcanoes,” “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” and “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Whalebone” from Return to the Sea and “Heartbeat” from Vapours.

5. “I could take a cigarette and a tequila shot,” Thorburn said toward the end of the set. The cigarette request was met immediately, and a bottle of tequila followed shortly after. The band encored with “Hallways,” during which Thorburn hung upside down from the ceiling before jumping into the crowd for final track, "Can't Feel My Face."

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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