There was a long, sustained applause after Future Islands finished playing 'Seasons (Waiting On You)' at Windjammer last Saturday night. It was more than a crowd recognizing its favorite hit—though there was a bit of an echo from the pavilion seats trailing Sam Herring's words as he sang the soaring verses. The roar at Pier Six Pavilion was so loud and lasted for so long that it felt like something more, an acknowledgment of the band's achievement of getting to this place, a sold-out crowd of thousands after years of gutting it out on the road and putting in the hard work—work that started here in Baltimore.
Though it could not be distilled to one audible moment, the same reverence was given to the night's two other headliners, Beach House and Dan Deacon, both acts who have also grown from their local DIY roots to a place of national prominence in independent music. While the show had all the typical trappings of a big-venue rock concert—fancy lights, expensive beers, long lines for the bathroom—Windjammer felt as much like a communal gathering. This was due in no small part to the proceeds of the show going to the Living Classrooms Foundation's Believe in Music campaign, but it was also the sight of hundreds of familiar faces, many from Whartscapes and warehouse shows of a not-too-distant past. The same people you still see watching young bands play at The Crown.
Only this time there were thousands more. A part of Baltimore's music scene had gone big tent, but that didn't stop Windjammer from feeling like something more intimate. In the moments before the set from Ed Schrader's Music Beat, members of the three headlining acts could be seen catching up with friends in the seats.
The moment was clearly not lost on them, however. And they all acknowledged it in their own ways. Before performing 'Wham City,' an ode to the arts collective he helped found, Deacon thanked anyone who has ever booked a show, whether in their own house or at a small club, for making his own career in music possible. Later, acknowledging Believe in Music's work, he talked about the importance of music in classrooms and finding the ability to express yourself. And perhaps most important, there was a moment when he had the crowd join hands and asked them to think about the people important to them and those they may not think about, such as the homeless or those killed by people of authority.
Even if Beach House seemed a bit more reserved in their stage banter, they were no less enthusiastic, applauding the "Maryland love" and echoing Deacon's sentiments on the less fortunate.
Herring, in turn, echoed Deacon on musical education. He went on to talk about how the city nurtured Future Islands after they moved here from North Carolina, and the importance of Deacon in helping them to come to Baltimore.
The performances were all great, in spite of a mix that sometimes sounded a little muddy and a sound system that sometimes gave off squealing feedback. Just as important as the song choices—including throwbacks such as 'Little Dreamer' for Future Islands and 'Gila' for Beach House—and the execution of them were those sentiments offered by all the performers. What became clear in those words is that these three bands will always be ours, no matter where their careers take them.