Portugal. The Man at The Midland

Portugal. The Man shook me to the core with a killer live performance at the Midland June 16th by changing how I view and categorize this band completely. I’ll have to admit; I was not a die-hard fan of Portugal. The Man before going, but figured a concert is a concert; let’s give it a go. So my poser-self showed up to this concert knowing only their top four hits and shoved my way up to the fourth row of GA. Me and two friends then waited in a smog of hot body odor, and fake fog being pumped from the side of the stage for the main act.

A quick performance from opening band Electric Guest was more or less what I expected from Portugal. The Man. They were very energetic and interactive with the crowd, regardless of being unable to hear the lead singer or being able to distinct one song from another. They came and went then it was time for Portugal. The Man.

My classic rock-enriched self was instantly sparked to alertness when I heard the cords from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” being played as Portugal. The Man came out. They went on to sing this song all the way through and earned my respect.

They then went straight into one of their most popular songs that one would expect to hear during their encore, “Feel It Still”. I could feel the whole crowd kind of all look at their friends like “Are they really playing this right now?” This adjustment of from the typically expected set list was such a fresh change I didn’t know I needed.

Then, immediately after “Feel It Still,” they played another highly popular song, “Purple Red Yellow and Blue.” After hyping up the crowd but confusing us with the change-up in the set list, they then lost me to songs that I didn’t know.

They were not interactive with the crowd at all, and did not move around much except from when bassist, Zachary Scott Carothers, was really feeling it. Typically, I would be put off from this lack of interaction but we were all thoroughly entertained by the projected backdrop that changed to the beat of the songs. This backdrop made me question my sobriety at projections of animated humans multiplying, deforming their faces, and swirling color dye kept us on our toes.

Also a good dose of progressive politics was added to this concert as one of the backdrops designs stated “Resist,” to songs off of their new album, Woodstock. Being a little political is not new to Portugal. The Man, when looking at songs like “Modern Jesus,” but a new administration has helped inspire this new album from Portugal. The Man and that has also transitioned into their live performances. 

During the middle of this concert were some ongoing instrumental songs where the lead singer John Gourley and percussionist and backup singer Zoe Manville even went off the stage allowing the guitar player to really kill this song for about 10 minutes. It wasn’t until about minute 7 that I ecstatically realized he was playing their own version of The Beatles, She’s So Heavy.

They then capped off this very strange and trippy middle performance by re-playing “Feel It Still,” where then again the audience looked at each other wondering “are they really playing this song again right now?” while simultaneously dancing and singing along to the song like it was our own.

A few shotgunned beers by the guitarist Eric Howk in a wheelchair, and the very enthusiastic bassist, Zachary Scott Carothers, that transitioned into the encore and then the end of this very unexpected but respected concert.

By: Sara Wallace

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