Despite commercial success, Portugal. The Man showcase a well-crafted show with indie roots

 By Jared Allen 

September 19, 2018

Portugal. The Man’s sixth studio album Woodstock and smash hit single “Feel It Still” didn’t just grow the band, it sent the Alaskan six-piece now residing in Portland into the mainstream stratosphere. The upbeat and poppy makeup completely transformed the perception of the indie rockers, yet the new sound isn’t what shined through Monday night during their stop at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre.

Instead of closing out the night with the single that won Portugal. The Man a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, the band slid the song into the middle of the setlist in a sneaky manner. There was little buildup, just a message displayed above them reading “That song is next.” Perhaps unexpectedly, the show wasn’t built on the band’s most commercially successful song to date, but instead on their psychedelic, creative mastery that frontman John Gourley has developed over the years.

John Gourley and Zachary Carothers of Portugal. The Man. Photo: Jared Allen

They opened with a cover of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” before seamlessly transitioning into “Purple Yellow Red And Blue.” Portugal. The Man didn’t stop to chat. Instead, three lines that admitted the band’s ineptitude of mid-show banter projected on the large white curtain that draped across the back of the stage. But what Portugal. The Man lacked in repartee, they made up for in musical showmanship. The jam sessions produced a fluid, never ending wave of energy that flowed in and out with the start and stop of each song. While some of the bands newer work found a home in the 14-song set list, they didn’t neglect the fan favorites of previous albums– “Modern Jesus” and “Sleep Forever.”

Coupled with the band’s personally designed lighting arrangement, that featured the entire color spectrum and bizarre graphics, Portugal. The Man created a dynamic sensory experience. Bright spotlights panned around the stage casting silhouettes of each band member with larger than life shadows projected on the screen behind them.

Photo: Jared Allen

Portugal. The Man has a storied past of critics calling out and misconstruing their messages pasted across the backdrop for all to see during the show.

“That’s right kids. No computers up here. Just live instruments.”

There’s no backing tracks, which makes the full electronic ensemble even more impressive. Portugal. The Man showcase a respect for their craft and it shows in their live performance and identity. Despite their booming success in 2017, they haven’t lost what make them unique. They still feel like an indie band at heart, that largely flew under the radar for the majority of their career despite a few hits. That unconventional appeal that has shaped the band throughout their 14-year career is still at the forefront and truly needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Check out the remaining 2018 tour dates for Portugal. The Man.

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