The Shrine Auditorium | Los Angeles, CA | August 11, 2018 | Photos: ZB Images |
“Are you ready for the old guy who used to play in the White Stripes?”
“We are Portugal. the Man. Just making sure you’re at the right concert.”
“Don’t worry, we’re playing ‘that song’ right after this.”
There was another missive of management-approved witty banter sprung brightly and projected above and behind Portugal. the Man as they delivered a fairly typical quirk-tastic set of their progressively psychedelic weirdo indie-rock. It was a distinctly less than family-friendly message albeit straight to the point of giving less than zero damns about critics.
We feel you, Portugal. the Man. Bless your hearts.
Aside from preceding their set by ceding the spotlight to local Native American leaders for the purpose of reminding the room of the indigenous people that this country tends to forget, their show at the Shrine Auditorium was textbook Portugal. the Man: sprawling, fanbase faithful, dark, horny (referring to frontman John Gourley’s headgear), tongue in cheek, and blazing with confidently pointed juxtapositions between the sonic aesthetics of their dynamic songs and the offbeat covers of choice interwoven among them. It takes a special kind of musical balls to open your show with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” only to close it by seamlessly segueing from your original, “Sleep Forever,” into goodnight-ing everyone with “Hey Jude.” Like a band who has been waiting for 14 years to show everyone but rock critics how adept they are at such bold and brilliant transitions and flexing their musical muscles on titanic classics.
Sure they played ‘that song’ aka “Feel It Still” which literally caused the earth to move under one’s feet if you were in the balcony, but Portugal. the Man are and will always be more than that Billboard charting, Grammy-winning earworm. Flanked by horns, a string section and back up singers songs that spanned five of their eight album well of sound such as “Evil Friends,” “People Say,” “Creep in a T-Shirt”/”Children of the Revolution” (T-Rex), “Sea of Air” and “All Your Light (Times Like These)” backed into Ghostface Killah’s “A Kilo” were brought to vibrant and sometimes sinister life beneath lava lamp-like projections, animation, and that management-approved commentary.
All the while Portugal. the Man stayed true to their basic nature: a band that takes music seriously enough to take not being too serious very seriously because they can play the shit out theirs and anyone else’s songs which is why rock critics can kiss their whole asshole.