Portugal. The Man
7 p.m., Main Stage Two
About 10 minutes before Portugal. The Man began their set, it seemed as though they wouldn't draw a large audience because of !!!'s near-simultaneous performance on Main Stage One.
That turned out not to be the case, though: By the time the band started playing, it seemed the entire 35 Conferette audience had moved over to the second stage to see what all of the fuss was about.
And, man, the fuss was well-deserved. After beginning their set with a lively jam session, Portugal immediately broke into "Guns and Dogs" off of their 2009 album, Satanic Satanist, the band's most energetic and decidedly political anti-war album.
Seeing the band live is a much different experience than listening to the album -- the quiet spaces that are on the record are filled with dramatic guitar solos and sweeping instrumentation, definitely a pleasant surprise that earns the band the tag "psychedelic".
Singer John Gourley is a small man with a big voice, shifting between calm and whispered to a high pitched falsetto without a hitch, while bassist Zachary Carothers provided back-up vocals that were a bit more grounded in contrast. This dynamic worked especially well during "New Orleans" with Gourley belting out lyrics as Carothers calmly sang the support, rhythmically accented by his maracas.
As a highly prolific band, it seemed like Portugal's choice of songs to play were an interesting combination, taking bits and pieces from the four albums that they've released since their debut in 2006. Instead of focusing more on their latest album, American Ghetto, the band performed the most songs off of Satanic Satanist, including "The Woods," "Do You," "The Home," and arguably their most popular song, "People Say."
Portugal. The Man is not a chatty band by any means, though. In fact, they barely spoke while onstage, aside from a periodic "Thank you" from Carothers. But this didn't make them seem distant, as the band seemed genuinely pleased to be performing to such an attentive audience.
The band ended the night with "AKA M80 The Wolf," a spastic art-rock tune from their debut album, Waiter: You Vultures!, which was punctuated by red and green lasers darting into the audience, inducing the crowd into an almost trance-like state.
An hour is a very short set for a band with so much beloved material, no doubt causing fans to unsuccessfully chant for another song after the band had exited the stage. They'll just have to wait until the band returns to Dallas in May, where they'll hopefully be performing cuts from their recently finished, yet unreleased (and unnamed), new album.
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