Last night I saw the next big thing in a living room off Haight Street in San Francisco at a house party turned concert turned music video shoot. When you see music all the time and spend every day scouring the internet for something worth falling in love with, it’s moments like the one I’m describing that you wait for to make it all worthwhile. Last night I saw Future Us.
What a name! When I walk into the living room, swirling psychedelic visuals dance patterns across the wall on top of their logo, which reads FUTURE US and depicts 2 child astronauts rocking acoustic guitars. Megan and Daniel are setting up in front of this scene, between them they have an APC 40, Kaoss pad, a keyboard, bass, electric and acoustic guitar and an old school Elvis mic adjusted to an adorably short height because Megan is tiny.
You wouldn’t guess it unless you went and stood right next to her because when she saunters up there in a sideways snapback and picks up her guitar she looks enormous, especially when she gets on the mic in a raspy voice and gently whispers, “I want to fuck – shit – up.”
There’s a wall of sound when Future Us starts up and I can’t stop smiling because it sounds like Sleigh Bells, old Royksopp and Broken Social Scene with a totally modern twist I can’t compare to anything. “We have intricate parts but most of it is based on the ability to improvise and go with it, which is what makes playing the music so fun – it’s very in the moment,” explains Daniel. My favorite part of the show is when he runs over with a giant smile on his face to give Megan a kiss on her forehead, it’s their one year anniversary playing together and the gesture seems to say, ‘I still can’t believe you exist’. I can’t believe either of them exist and that they had the good fortune to find each other – she sounds like Etta James and he looks like a muppet up there, head bouncing and arms stretched between each musical component of the song they’re playing. Future Us is undoubtedly going to be on the festival circuit in the next few years and they might even change the game with this whole acoustic guitar/DJ concept.
I know Megan a little bit from LA, she was on her singer-songwriter hustle there a couple years ago – and what a death march that is. You’re in a city full of people trying to do the same shit you are, all the good venues are pay to play, and there’s next to no one eager to become a fan. It’s the ultimate Catch 22 – you have to break through and generate some hype before anyone wants to be your fan, but how are you supposed to get to that level in a city full of ‘artists’ who don’t see themselves as ‘fans’? I’m trying to imagine what kind of venue or label would stand behind a brand new experimental acoustic guitar/EDM project in LA and none come to mind because no one wants you til you’ve already made it.
After a year, Megan got frustrated and moved to the Bay to get out of LA for a little while – then she never came back. In the fishbowl that is the Los Angeles music scene where everything worth a damn in EDM gets sucked up into the mainstream and spit out just as fast and you can’t have a rock band that doesn’t lose money unless you have tons of friends to sell $10 tickets to every time you want to play a gig, how are you supposed to develop? Back in the old days before everyone and their mother had a recording studio in their bedroom, labels used to actually develop artists – if they heard a sound that was raw but had potential they invested in the artist like it were a business developing a product not yet ready for market.
Since that paradigm no longer exists, it makes sense to live in a community that serves as an incubator for the development process. If there’s still an underground music scene in LA, I have no idea where it is and neither does anyone else I know. But every time I go out in San Francisco I see something totally new and I see people who want in on the groundfloor. This is a place that supports artists and forms a community around any sort of good time. Since that’s all the underground really is, forming a community around some new art form or artists, I would argue that the underground has migrated north. More and more I’m finding boundary-pushing artists who gave up on LA and came up here to settle and prosper, I believe we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of new music about to be coming out of San Francisco.
Check out the music video for ‘I Belong To You’ above (starring Megan’s luscious girlfriend Kirsten) and their Soundcloud, but be advised that in my humble opinion, the Future Us sound is not fully captured by their recordings at this time. My favorite is actually a live recording from their show this weekend of a new down-tempo track called ‘Masochistic’. And don’t get me wrong, you can hear the Future Us greatness shine through in their recordings – but once this sound gets in your bloodstream, you’re just going to want for a studio-quality recording played through really expensive over-ear headphones. Consider yourself in on the groundfloor, we are all Future Us.