Portugal the Man and Local Natives Team Up For Powerful Red Rocks Performances (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

It is said that to truly appreciate form you need contrast. Light needs darkness, heat needs the cold, etc, etc, and without both sides of the equation there is no true understanding of either side. True to form, Local Natives and Portugal the Man came together at Red Rocks on a prototypically perfect Colorado summer evening to present a case study of such contrasts, demonstrating that two equally opposing forces can come together to elevate their respective styles simply by displaying the depth and range in which each band is capable.

It should be mentioned that although Local Natives began the evening (after opener Car Seat Headrest), the show was billed as a co-headlining tour, with both bands playing equal sets of 90 minutes apiece in very much apropos time slots. As the sun slowly slipped towards the distant sparkling metropolis of Denver on the horizon, Local Natives embodied the glow of the proverbial magic hour as they filled the amphitheater with their trademark vocal harmonies and reverberations. The show marked their first performance since the release of a three part special on Viceland documenting a nationwide traverse of the Colorado River, and the resulting buzz emanating from both the band and the crowd was almost palpable. The band ripped through early hits from Gorilla Manor before playing a few newer cuts from their recent LP Sunlit Youth and even toyed with Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ (which they quipped as covering their favorite artist Katy Perry) before eventually bringing down the house with the Colorado themed ‘Who Knows Who Cares’, then riding that Rocky Mountain High through a two song encore capped by a rendition of ‘Sun Hands’ that included a sea of cell phone lights creating a literal sense of the closer.

In stark distinction to the ethereal melodies of earlier in the eve, Portugal The Man made it clear from the get-go they were a gale force to be reckoned with, opening with riffs from Metallica and then Pink Floyd’s The Wall (backed by an 8 piece orchestra) before morphing into a funk disco version of ‘Purple Yellow Red and Blue’. This type of homage would be a steady theme throughout their set, which led to a particularly fun cat-and-mouse game of teasing a particular sound (these guitar harmonies are sounding fairly Weezeresqe) to a later payoff (oh shit are they playing The Sweater Song’s solo?!) that left the crowd reeling as they mixed musical cameos in throughout their set. The wind and band picked up in intensity, eventually culminating in a full crowd sing-a-long to Oasis’ classic ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ that would make any college freshman with an acoustic guitar seethe with jealousy, before wrapping the night in a long jam that saw a full circle return to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Much like the old empire of the country in which the band bears its namesake, Portugal the Man punched well above their weight in a live setting, transforming straightforward tunes into a maze of musical delight that left its audience in rapture as they waited to see where the band would take them next.

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