Standing on stage at New York’s Terminal 5, Portugal. The Man’s John Gourley held a guitar that read: “Breaking the law.” It was a statement that framed the performance to follow on Wednesday night (June 7) — the second of a two-night run at the venue — as the setlist crafted by the indie rockers was lush with defiant tracks, sending a clear message from the start as they dove into the instrumentals of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
Following the tone-setting intro, the Alaskan natives seamlessly transitioned into a mixed medley jam session that included recent hit “Feel It Still” — in which opening act Electric Guest‘s Asa Taccone joined in to sing, “I’m a rebel just for kicks now” — and “Purple Yellow Red & Blue,” where they relayed, “All that I needed/ Is something to believe in.”
As the band — consisting of John Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Jason Sechrist and Eric Howk — delivered a sonic treat with their explosive rock production, they also gifted the audience with engaging visuals, too, projected on the screen behind them (that also captured their silhouettes). The imagery ranged from what appeared to be organisms under a microscope to what was most certainly artistically illustrated pornography, and every now and then the upcoming song title flashed on the screen serving as the equivalent of a new chapter in a book.
While the majority of the songs were from of the band’s impressive decade-long catalogue, like “Modern Jesus” and “All Your Light” — which they turned into a rock epic drenched in distortion, as literally all the lights on stage beam over the crowd in a rainbow of lasers — a handful came from the group’s upcoming album Woodstock. Those efforts included its lead single, “Feel It Still,” and the sultry slow jam “So Young,” which skews optimistic when they sang, “One day the world may end/ But there’s still plenty to discover.”
More than an hour into the set, Carothers finally addressed the crowd, only to plug the upcoming album’s release, before revisiting “Feel It Still” and “Purple Yellow Red & Blue” to perform in full form and reiterating the sentiment of needing something to believe in. The band didn’t say much, so the music did all the talking — and the message of rebellion and non-complacency came through loud and strong.
As the group returned for its encore (“These are my friends, my coworkers,” Carothers said), they welcome Cage the Elephant’s Matt Schultz to the stage to assist on their final song, an emotive cover of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” which they dedicated to the English city of Manchester.
While Portugal. The Man is one week away from releasing what will be its first album in nearly four years, for a band that grew accustomed to releasing an album a year, the result of the lengthy time away is an invigorated and fired up attitude that plays out on stage in all the right ways.
— Lyndsey Havens (@LyndseyAlana) June 8, 2017