Concert Review | Portugal. The Man concert features psychedelic music, visuals
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
Only loyal fans of this Portland, Ore. band know to spell Portugal. The Man’s name with the period, and based on the great atmosphere at their show at the House of Blues on Sunday night, it’s safe to say that most everyone there knew how to spell it correctly.
Following the recent release of their latest studio album this past May, entitled “Evil Friends,” Portugal. The Man embarked on a world tour, stopping at several big festivals including the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and the Governors Ball in New York City. The band’s eighth studio album included such hits as “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and “Evil Friends,” with the album peaking at number 28 on the Billboard 200. Following a series of hit or miss records, the release of consecutive albums “In the Mountain in the Cloud” (2011) and “Evil Friends” has cemented Portugal as an important part of the popular psychedelic rock scene. Thankfully, their set avoided focusing too much on their new content, as some bands unfortunately tend to do when trying to promote an album. The fact that a few months have passed since the album’s release also allowed fans enough time to learn lyrics so that they could sing along.
This was Portugal’s second time performing at Boston’s House of Blues. During the show, the band’s bassist, Zachary Carothers, declared how much the group loved the city, having recorded two albums here. Of course, any mention of Boston was sure to generate some cheering, but it was still a nice, sincere gesture on his part. Carothers was also sure to mention the opening band, Crystal Fighters, who he commended for a great set.
British band Crystal Fighters are probably know to most as “that band on FIFA,” having been featured twice now on the game franchise’s soundtrack. Despite being relatively unknown by most of the audience, the group managed to create a great atmosphere. The crowd danced along with lead singer Sebastian Pringle, who was covered in rhinestones and resembled James Franco’s character, Alien, in “Spring Breakers” (2013). Crystal Fighters’ opening generated a nice buzz and set the bar high for the rest of the concert.
Portugal then arrived on stage and immediately set the tone with “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” During the opener, a projector created silhouettes of various cutout shapes to accompany the group’s psychedelic music with an even more mind-bending light show. The projections changed to match the songs, and appeared in the form of strange creatures, echoing the figures on their album covers. Portugal. The Man has generated quite a following thanks to their strange but well-produced music videos, and this show reflected their attachment to the relationship between audio and visual. Images of hand-eyes and six-eyed elephants leading spectators into a forest of birch trees made for both an aurally and visually-engaging experience.
The high-octane beginning of the show, packed with Portugal’s hit songs, was unfortunately followed by a lull in the middle of the performance. Indeed, during this part of the show some audience members seemed more entertained by making shadow animals on the walls. The band’s choice to combine songs without pausing in between also contributed to this lull, causing the concertgoers to lose energy.
If anything were to be criticized about the night, it would be Portugal’s stage presence. They didn’t converse much with the audience, failed to get the crowd involved on most songs and their movement on stage was limited. These are minor criticisms, however — the concert ultimately did its job by providing a safe space for avid fans to sing their hearts out, without the pain of hearing their own voices.
The show picked back up at the end when the band decided to play “Day Man” from the cult comedy series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (2005-present), triggering those who understood the reference to chant the lyrics along with them. They then went on to perform a strange, but welcome addition to their set: “Hey Jude” by The Beatles — the quintessential sing-along. Portugal. The Man bookended their show with a reprise of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” leaving the audience feeling happy and satisfied as the evening came to a close.