Portugal. The Man – The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC 10/2/13

Portland, Oregon via Alaska based experimental rockers Portugal. The Man visited Charlotte’s Fillmore on last Wednesday, and gave the near capacity crowd exactly what they came for: recognizable songs, jams, and a few covers thrown in for a good buzz. The band took the stage after opening act Crystal Fighters warmed things up and the dance floor exploded with cheers that quickly gave way to laser and moving lights, and a screen projector filled with colors and random images. Appropriate for the opening song, “Purple Yellow Red & Blue,” a single from their most recent release Evil Friends, verbalizing the notion that living in daily ecstasy might just be achievable if you follow the sound.

The covers started early in the set, with Ghostface Killah’s “All Your Light (Times Like These)/The Home/The Kilo” leading into “Day Man”, an odd quirky choice from the popular television show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It is a tune that brings the age old battle between the darkness and light in all of us into new, hilarious territory. The “Sunny” fans were easy to spot as they sang along with smiles of amusement and disbelief on their stage-lit faces. This was a sign that the band doesn’t take them-selves too seriously, something that is refreshing among the artists sometimes associated with their genre. The jam gave way to “So American” from their 2011 album In the Mountain In The Cloud into the even older fan favorite “People Say.” Each song easily flowed into the other, and delighted the crowd with the sonically seamless medley of the new, the old, and the weird.

The set was filled in with many songs from Evil Friends, including “Hip Hop Kids,” “Creep in a T-Shirt,” and the perfectly poignant “Modern Jesus.” Portugal. The Man’s lyrical content may present itself as moody and sometimes silly on the surface, but the words are deep and interpretive, making each song worth a thousand listens to glean true meaning. “Don’t pray for us, We don’t need no modern Jesus” hit home in a number of ways, during a turbulent time full of government shutdowns and religious frictions that are out of our control.

Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” was yet another entertaining cover offering, and The Beatles’ found their catalog getting a workout as well, with “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Hey Jude,” and “Helter Skelter” adding to the rock. The entire show, in fact, proved to be one big “sandwich,” as “Helter Skelter” jammed its way back into the ending notes and chorus of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” The full-circle conclusions and overall experimental play throughout the show proved that Portugal. The Man are beyond categorization, taking inspiration from the sub-worlds of indie and jam, but remaining firmly in the midst of rock.

 

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