Show Review: Portugal. The Man at House of Blues

Portugal. the Man

USD Radio checked out the Portugal the Man show May 7th at the House of Blues in Anaheim.   The band performed a variety of new songs and old favorites for a sold out crowd in support of their new album, “In the Mountain, In the Cloud”, set to be released on July 19th.

By: Chuck Cartwright

A few of us made the two hour trek up the coast to Anaheim to see one of my favorite bands.  Yeah, it was at that House of Blues in Disneyland, and yes, we had to deal with the typically brash House of Blues staff in their visually abrasive bright yellow shirts, along with other obstacles associated with attending a concert at ‘the happiest place on earth’.  But  as expected, the trials and tribulations payed off in the end.

After catching a bit of Portugal the Man’s set at Coachella last year, and missing them last time they visited San Diego, this was my first time seeing the band in their element.  I’ve been listening to Portugal. the Man for about a year, and I quickly realized that this qualified me as a new fan amongst their ranks within the nearly sold-out concert hall.  One kid who couldn’t have been past 16 showed me a picture he drew for the band–he said it took him thirty hours to complete.  Another person I spoke with said that this was her fourth time seeing the band live.  This type of dedicated fan following only got me more excited for the show to start.

When the show was set to begin, a prelude video began to play on screens above the stage.  It started out with landscape shots of the band’s native Alaska, before a plot formed around lead singer John Gourley driving a team on a dog sled.  An instrumental played as the plot precariously thickened, until Gourley accidently killed himself with his hunting rifle.  The clip then took an animalistic twist when  our protagonist’s sled dogs began to instinctively devour their master.  Shortly thereafter the curtains pulled away, revealing the band in the midst of a variety of multi-colored lasers as they began to play.  Personally I thought the whole production was genius.

They played new songs and old songs, though the crowd maintained an enthusiastic even keel throughout the performance.  It was one of those shows that could have kept going long-past the venue’s curfew and no one would have minded.  Most of the crowd excitedly sang along to the songs, especially during The Sun, and People Say.  I’d almost venture to say that the show had a jam-band quality about it, with the band effortlessly transitioning from one song into another without interlude.

When their set was over, it appeared that most of the crowd wasn’t ready to go.  After a fifteen minute encore it seemed the folks in attendance were still hoping for another hour long set.  I couldn’t believe how much these fans loved the band.  Their music truly does have a very genuine, soulful flavor about it.  Their songs carry a quality and a vibe that cannot be explained–even by the lyrics.


Portugal. the Man's new album, "In The Mountain, In The Cloud", will be released on July 19th, 2011

I’m quite confident that this band is going to be huge.  First of all, its the only non-DJ artist that my friends have ever really been excited about seeing live.  In fact, PTM is disproportionately popular at USD versus the national scene–which is interesting because USD typically is slow to embrace non-EDM artists.  Portugal the Man has an effect on those who will give them a chance, and makes the listener want to hear more.  After the show a few of the band members took the time to talk to fans and sign autographs, embracing the “take care of your fans, and they’ll take care of you” mantra. They have an authenticity about them that could only have originated on the frontiers of Alaska.

Give them a listen if you haven’t yet.  Their new album, “In the Mountain, In the Cloud”, will be released on July 19th via Atlantic Records.

Check out their new single “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)” here.

Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now) - Single - Portugal the Man