If we distilled the Baltimore music scene's year to one video clip, the result would be Future Islands' network TV debut on "The Late Show with David Letterman" in March. As of now, the YouTube video has more than 3.1 million views, and it's easy to see why.
Performing "Seasons (Waiting on You)" from this year's "Singles," frontman Sam Herring delivered the impassioned performance Baltimore fans have come to expect. But to a national audience, including an amused Letterman, Herring's soulful singing and captivating dance moves announced a cutting-edge band's arrival.
We knew better, but it was still beautiful to witness hometown heroes conquer the world. When the trio returned in September to surprisingly headline Hampdenfest, their smiles said it all. Our arguably most popular band had traveled the world, spreading a sound honed in Baltimore to the masses, but seemed happiest right at home. After years of relentless, unglamorous touring, Future Islands came full circle this year.
Of course, no single entity could ever encapsulate a week of our city's music scene, let alone a year. We saw Baltimore Club heroes like Rod Lee and Scottie B broadcast the city's dance music across the globe together from New York, while young producers like DJ Dizzy and Matic808 injected youthful energy into the sound. Rappers Lor Scoota and Young Moose showed mainstream potential, while Ellis dropped incredibly worded knowledge on an overlooked album. Rising bands including Have Mercy, Horse Lords and Pianos Become the Teeth released solid full-lengths. Wye Oak and Ed Schrader's Music Beat finally dropped new material, as well, and it was worth the wait.
All of this barely makes a dent in our music scene's year, so we asked other artists their favorite local music moments of the year:
"My favorite local music moment of the year would definitely have to be when Lor Scoota performed 'Birdflu' at The Mixx event at Morgan State University over the summer. The whole city was out there and ung every word. The crazy thing about it is, after his set, the show got stopped by the police but almost everyone in attendance migrated to a nearby parking lot on the campus and it basically turned into a block party ... I guess that's what you could call it." — Jay Verze
"Baltimore has had some awesome music moments this year, between Invitational releasing 'Composite,' War On Women being signed to Bridge 9, Birthright putting out the amazing three-song EP 'Waste Away,' and not to mention all the awesome shows this year between Charm City Art Space, Sidebar, Metro Gallery and Ottobar. But I think my favorite moment this year was the release of 'Chapter One: An Introduction' by My Heart, My Anchor. If you haven't listened to this album your missing out on a good time." — Andrew Johnson of Have Mercy
"My favorite Baltimore music moment was seeing Ellis' movie 'The Education of Ellis' at the Harbor East theater. I knew how much time and effort he put into the project. His hard work paid off." — Al Great
"LadyFest was my absolutely favorite local musical moment this year, and it lasted 48 hours! The vibe was just so positive and welcoming. It really just felt different than other male-dominated shows and spaces. Yeah, we played, but it wasn't about us, it was about everyone there feeling part of something bigger." — Shawna Potter of War On Women
"Seeing some guys I knew previously, but frankly had been too busy/lazy/preoccupied with [Tanner's Pickles] to check out in any sort of detail completely murder it on 'Letterman.' I watched that Future Islands clip 15 times in row. Made my week." — Evan Tanner of War On Women
"No. 1 show in Baltimore for 2014: Sister Midnight show at Tribal Haus. Just totally destroyed and rebuilt the whole format of a D.I.Y. show. Instead of paying a door fee or donating, there was an insane raffle for different gifts and services from houses, hosts and touring homies. Everything about this show was so beautiful." — Schwarz
"My favorite local music moment was the build-up around and release of Rickie Jacobs' 'Remember To Smile.' I actually did smile when I saw those singles coming one after another with national artists such as Smoke DZA and Dubb, and the reaction to it." — Rome Cee
"I found a ton of new music just by seeing who was playing at the Crown, Metro Gallery, Ottobar, etc. on any given night. Probably my favorite moment of the year was getting to see two of my favorite local bands play so much — Dungeon Kids and Us & Us Only. One particular night more recently at the Crown stands out to me because it was the first time I'd gotten to see Dungeon Kids play in months, as I'd just come back from a long tour. Even for a band I already love they totally blew me away, as the singer/songwriter of the group, Dan Windsor, has some of the best stage presence around in addition to writing great songs." — Ricky Eat Acid
"The release of Al Great and Street Scott's 'Great Scott.' Being a fan of both these guys I was extremely happy to see them work together to create a full-length body of work. No features, just pure authenticity. It was one of the best projects to ever come out of Baltimore this year. My favorite cut off the album is 'Marty Mcfly.'" — Rickie Jacobs
"My most memorable Baltimore music moment of the year was when the homie Greenspan dropped that 'Stairway to Heaven' project! That's a very dope project with some clean production. I had that entire project in the deck for at least three months straight." — Dunson
"I would probably have to say that Lor Scoota's 'Still in the Trenches 2.5' CD stood out to me. He worked on more original music and he did a good job on making music for different types of audiences. Doing that shows his versatility and how he can rap on all different types of beats. I think he's doing a good job and it is only a matter of time before he makes it really big." — DJ Dizzy
"I got to see Young Moose live this year when the police were really shutting down his performances. They were saying he wouldn't show up, but he walked into the Downtown Cultural Art Center and I heard a crowd of kids erupt like Justin Beiber walked in. He tore through three songs and made the stage impossible to follow." — Shawn Smallwood
"My favorite local music moment in 2014 would have to be Soohan's album release show. I've never seen a crowd dance like that at the 8x10. He played his first ablum in order in its entirety with visuals to match. The whole room loved every moment. I stood just off stage and was absolutely amazed by the production on the album, the way it sounded on the sound system there, the careful details that went into the accompanying visuals and the huge crowd that came out to support." — James Nasty
"My most memorable moment in Baltimore music this year was Greenspan's performance at Indy Fest at the 8x10. It was a packed house and Green effortlessly ran through a medley of his records backed by a live band. His stage presence and command of the microphone was, and is, what makes him one of Baltimore's best live performers. The show was not only entertaining but inspiring." — Ellis
"My personal favorite moment in Baltimore music this year was Future Islands' new record, 'Singles.' From the moment I saw the performance on 'Letterman' to playing the Pitchfork Festival in Paris to a sea of people, I couldn't be more excited to see a band like them getting the recognition they deserve. They have been at it so long with some incredible albums under their belt. It's awesome to see them ending up on so many album-of-the-year lists and really getting recognized for how good they are. They are truly an inspiring band.” — Mike York of Pianos Become the Teeth