Portugal. The Man shock fans with experimental performance

Portugal. The Man with Hollerado, at Vogue Theatre, 2/2/18

Portugal The Man @ Vogue
Photo by Olivia Lowe

Portugal. The Man delivered a creative masterpiece of experimental musicality and manipulative illumination to their first of two back-to-back sold-out shows on Friday night (Feb. 2) at the Vogue Theatre. In support of their most recent album Woodstock, the Portland-based indie rockers checked into Vancouver for the second stop of their 2018 Winter Tour.

Though Woodstock’s vibrant and poppy consistency boosted Portugal. The Man atop the charts last year, their new mainstream sound did not shine through on stage. Hit songs like “Feel it Still,” and “Live In The Moment” took on psychedelic renditions, and grungy covers of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” and  Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” were weaved in between.

Portugal The Man @ Vogue
Photo by Olivia Lowe

Moments before the opening riffs, the band’s bassist Zachary Carothers confessed to having weak stage banter, and told the crowd that all banter will be displayed on the screen throughout the night. What initially seemed dispassionate soon began to make sense. The projected crowd  banter allowed for more jam sessions and heightened fluidity in the setlist which created a non stop wave of throbbing energy. Though the setlist was fluid, the unpredictable transitions between heavy rock and groovy pop had the crowd interested and on their toes. From the headphone-wearing children, to the Pilsner-drinking college students and fresh-to-death older crowd, Portugal. The Man had the Vogue Theatre jumping from start to finish.

As the natural expression of artistry made for a surreal night, the concert’s lighting and visual displays was a worthy act in itself. Vivid projections of malformed human sculptures, pulsating colours, and a blown up silhouette of frontman John Gourley occupied the stage’s background. The cinematics were paired with intense strobe lighting, and multi-coloured beams synced to the melody, creating an innovative, mind-blowing visual experience.

Yes, Portugal. The Man has lost an element of uniqueness over their rise to stardom. A poppy, colourful, and accessible sound dominates the majority of their new music. After witnessing the band perform on Friday, it’s safe to say that their unique identity is still here. Perhaps a live concert is in store to fully understand why they’re commonly known as “The Lords of Portland.”