Portugal. The Man played two sold-out shows at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom on Thursday, December 12th. The first was a special show for fans under 18, benefitting the Music in Schools program at the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. The second was day 60 of the ‘December to Remember’ concert series.
The Crystal Ballroom was sultry and vibrating as the crowed pushed themselves to the barricade in front of the stage. The house music played Roy Orbison’s, “Oh My Love, My Darling”. As it reached its crescendo, the band walked on stage and the crowed erupted with screams as if singing along to the music. As “Oh My Love, My Darling” came to its end, the Portugal. The Man picked it right up with the pulsing, rave beat of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”.
The crowd sang along to “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” as the brilliant light show pulsed green over them.
When the guitar solo in “All Your Light” happened with the crazy drums behind it, you just can’t help but scream. And everyone did. It’s like that moment right before… over and over — just lingering there, almost finishing, but not quite. It doesn’t let up either, it just keeps building, slow, but so multifarious, until before you know it, all of sudden, as if someone started spinning a record faster, John Gourley sings the last line and the song ends in a frenzy.
As they jammed and the harmonies of “Someday Believers” echoed throughout the ballroom with the crowd singing along, this spirit soared. The light show and hand-drawn animations projected behind them were phenomenal. The thoughtfulness of blending songs together speaks to their love of music, “good music.”
While my spirit started to soar above me, it was brought back down to march in time to that beat we all recognize from “Another Brick In The Wall”. As the crowd was cheering when “Someday Believer’s” ended, they started in with it.
Any band that plays the same song twice in a set must be confident in their music. Portugal. The Man opened the show with “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and closed their set with it too. After playing a dark rendition of “Another Brick In The Wall” with pounding base lines that seemed to simply shape-shift into “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”, they thanked the crowd and left the stage, leaving fans to pound the floor in anticipation of the encore. The initial march and fury that “Another Brick In The Wall” instilled got people stomping in time.
Once the lyrics of “Another Brick In The Wall” began, they were met with cheering and universal singing and fist pounding. It felt as if the spring-loaded dance floor of the Crystal Ballroom might collapse under it. By the time they were playing “Purple Yellow Rad and Blue” again, I was sure the floor would collapse underneath us.
They are mavericks in the way they weave bits of popular classics into their own music. Their live set has a unique jam band feel to it as they seem to effortlessly take the crowd on a journey through their albums with bits of other’s songs weaved in and together. They blended Blur’s “Song 2” with “Creep In a T-Shirt” – wow! As usual, they ended with The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” mixed with their own “The Devil” before leaving us on a buzzing cloud with “Sleep Forever”.
I met super fan, Aaron Jones, after his successful crowd surfing during “So American”. He expressed that the care PTM gives to blending songs from two different eras, “Song 2” from the ‘90s with current day “Creep in a T-Shirt” shows how much they love music and their fans. He explained that their older songs brought him back to the glory days of high school. Songs like “People Say” and “Guns and Dogs”. Overall, he was overwhelmed by the psychedelic atmosphere of the show, which he attributed to the room being charged with love and to the high that comes only from living in the moment.
Perhaps what he calls psychedelic is what I call jamming out. It is a feeling of being in the moment, of sharing a common experience charged with staring those false egos we carry around with us straight in the face.
“I don’t know what I know, but I know where it’s at / Just because I lost it doesn’t mean I want it back / I’m just a creep in a t-shirt / Jeans, I don’t fucking care…”
John Gourley’s Fender has “Only Good Music” painted on it – ballsy, right? Or, maybe they just know they’re that good. Perhaps it’s a way to manifest greatness. Either way, Portugal. The Man live is something extremely special to experience.