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Portugal. The Man - 60 Years
Mar 15, 2011
Total plays:
30 times
Why do we like this?
Portugal. The Man continue to be the best thing to come out of Wasilla, Alasaka (enter Sarah Palin joke here), and may be the hardest working band laying in the grass, watching the clouds float by. They are some mellow dudes, but they don't fuck around. They're a tight band that plays a heavy set. Lead singer John Gourley drives a feverish pace, releasing at least an album a year, even doing the album art sometimes. An artistic drive on display at Chicago's Lincoln Hall this past Thursday night.

Gourley's calming vocals guided the crowd through the swirling psychedelic dust storm of nation-sized sound that is Portugal. The Man. Ryan Neighbors is a wizard behind the keyboard, bassist Zachary Carothers plays like a conductor of a magical flying train, and Jason Sechrist hammers away at the drum kit like a man possessed. It all comes together to create a unique shape-shifting, free-form style that allows them to easily tweak their songs live to present a set sonically unrecognizable from many of their studio albums, a set that was still widely accessible, but challenging. For example, they played an extended, grittier version of "60 Years" that included a dash of reggaeton.

By maintaining the spirit of the original songs but displaying them from a fresh perspective, they maintained one of the best elements of their studio album: not knowing exactly which direction they're headed next.

The first time I saw Portugal. The Man was last spring shortly after they had signed to Atlantic and a few days after they had played an overflowing tent at Coachella. So naturally, they were playing to 30 or so art students in a college cafeteria. Before the show, I sat down with the band, watched Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader and discussed their artistic process, but generally just made fun of Jeff Foxworthy.

Signing to a major label could stifle many creative DIY-leaning bands, but Gourley made it clear: although they were writing music for a larger demographic, it wouldn't alter their methods. Almost a year later, as their influence and popularity expand, this sentiment has held true. If anything, while operating as a four-piece, they've become even more progressive.

Portugal. The Man is one of my definite picks to click in 2011, their ongoing tour includes three shows at SXSW: Wednesday (tomorrow!) at IFC House, Thursday at Stubb's, and Saturday at Atlantic Record's Chop Shop Party. If you're in Austin, be sure to catch their set.

More photos from their live performance in Chicago below!

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