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Over The Weekend: Portugal. The Man at the Granada Theater

Portugal. The Man, Telekinesis, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Granada Theater

May 20, 2011

Better than: trying to put on your own laser show.

Die-hard fans lined the front of the stage for Friday night's Portugal. The Man show, a group ranging from the young fans attempting to conceal their conspicuously X-ed hands to Gen X-ers.

The venue hummed with excitement, and, as the lights dimmed, an enthusiastic cry erupted in the crowd. With their eyes glued on the stage, waiting for the screen that obscures the stage to rise, fans would have a little bit longer to wait before seeing the band.

The speakers pounded out songs from Portugal's as yet unreleased album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, while the screen cut to scenes of icebergs, snow and picturesque horizons -- an homage to the band's hometown in Wasilla, Alaska. (Yes, that Wasilla.)

At the start of the second song, the pretty views were swapped for a music video, in which Portugal. The Man singer John Gourley faces isolation in the Alaskan wilderness and, in a surprising turn, meets his early demise.

The video was briefly met with stunned silence, while the crowd digested the strange visual. Finally there were hearty cheers. To this crowd, the band could do no wrong.

Finally, the screen lifted to reveal the band, and assuring the crowd that Gourley was, in fact, alive. Met with rousing cheers, Portugal. The Man launched into their set.

The songs on their set list were difficult to predict, as, just two months ago at 35 Conferette, the band ignored their latest album in favor of pulling heavily from 2009's The Satanic Satanist. This time, the songs were more evenly divided, drawing from each of their five released albums almost equally, as well as a few tracks from In the Mountain in the Cloud.

And the Granada seemed to be the perfect venue for Portugal: The band's stage effects that were wasted at the outdoor stage at 35 Conferette had a chance to really shine here.

The fog machine seemed to be on high the entire night, wisping around the band and, at times, completely obstructing them from view. Meanwhile, green lasers darted through the crowd while the audience watched the stage, fully enthralled.

Not known for being talkative onstage, Portugal. The Man substituted the typical "How're we feeling, Dallas?!" for seamless song transitions, effectively maintaining the carefully constructed psychedelic atmosphere. The onstage silence broke only when the band returned to the stage for their encore, insisting that they loved Texas just as much as Texas loved them.

And the fans were all too-eager to display their love for the band -- they proudly lifted their lighters in the air for "And I," a crowd favorite from Portugal. The Man's third album, Censored Colors. The room, illuminated by dozens of lighters and lasers, swathed in smoke, was an impressive sight.

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Ending on that high note of mutual appreciation, Portugal. The Man left the stage, as fans assured themselves that with their seemingly-endless touring schedule, the band would definitely be back soon.

Critic;s Notebook
Personal Bias:
When it comes to Portugal. The Man, I am a superfan, which is similar to a regular fan, but slightly more creepy.

By The Way: I really hope we bring back this whole "lighter raising" thing. When it's warranted, it's a really cool experience.

Random Note: John Gourley's mustache has its own twitter account.

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