When I first arrived at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, I was completely unaware of who “Portugal. The Man” was, or so I thought. I had heard friends and colleagues raving about their performances at SxSW, but I was never given the opportunity to see them. Since then they have been stuck on my “bands to listen to” list, waiting for the chance to impress. To me Portugal. The Man just became one of those bands that I didn’t know I knew. I was familiar with the songs, but the band had yet to grab my full attention. And yes, there is a period in their name.
Looking back at my Shazam music list, a bit of shock and shame came over me. Apparently I had inquired about the band via mobile device many times but it wasn’t until Sunday night that their talent really hit me. With a stage show meant for an arena Portugal. The Man took me by storm.
The Flaming Lips were right, the stage set up that Portugal. The Man was definitely something to be envious of. With large white globes engulfing the stage there was more than a little intrigue to the near capacity crowd than a show at The Bottleneck was used to. Even if the band could impress visually I still wasn’t sold that Portugal. The Man was the power house I’ve heard they are. That was until they kicked into their first song.
With “So American” the band had shown that the lasers and lights were there more for respect to their fans and less as a gimmick to fall back on. Portugal. The Man was delivering a show that was well worth the 15 dollar entrance fee. In the day and age of stripped down musical mannequins it was refreshing to see an up and coming band put on a bit of a show. The bar quickly filled from fog and the orb like tentacles began to dance with color to the psychedelic rock sounds of Portugal. The Man. With big rock guitars and strobe light triggered drums the band had taken control.
Then just like that Portugal. The Man blasted into a daring cover of “Helter Skelter” a song that more than fit the mood. This bold decision was greatly received, there are not many bands out there that can pull off a song like “Helter Skelter” and still manage to add a bit of themselves to the classic melody but Portugal. The Man did just that. Even with John Baldwin Gourley sporting a raspier than usual voice the band was able to deliver.
To say I was taken back by the sounds of Portugal. The Man would be an understatement. The band more than delivered on the high praises they rode in on. You can bet that the next time the band rolls into town I will be there. With so many bands trying to recreate that vintage feel, it’s hard to ignore the bands that do it right and Portugal. The Man is a band that is screaming for attention.
by Ryan Davis
photos by Angela Davis