Portugal. The Man made their way through Austin this past Tuesday night to play their debut Austin City Limits taping. While the storm was brewing, people were filling up Moody Theater in anticipation of their performance. The Portland quintet’s 13-song set was made up mainly of tracks from their most recent release Evil Friends, but they had some surprises in store for the audience, as well.
They kicked off their set with “All Your Light (Times Like These),” a track with throaty vocals and menacing synths. Next up was Evil Friends‘ title track that slowly shifted into the hilariously entertaining track from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Dayman.” The audience ate it up and sang along as they eased into one of their most well-known songs, “So American.” While I’ve only attended a few ACL tapings, this was my first time seeing a band have a minor error in their performance. Barely a minute into the set, singer/guitarist John Gourley stopped and said, “I got nervous.” The crowd cheered them on as the band regrouped and they performed it impeccably.
Before playing three songs from their last album, bassist Zach Carothers said, “It’s a serious honor for us to be here. Been fans of the show for a long time.” “Sea of Air” was a perfect example as to why this band gets Beatles comparisons from time to time. The tender, acoustic track has a John Lennon solo feel, with a twist of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” to it. Next were “Modern Jesus” and “Hip Hop Kids,” two tracks that really speak for the band. The band has previously used the struggle of faith and religion in their songs. And as for “Hip Hop Kids,” apparently Portugal. The Man is all about anything hip hop so it makes sense that it was one of the hardest rocking songs of the set.
The mash-ups weren’t over as the band broke into the first verse and chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” which they worked into their last song of set, “Purple, Yellow, Red & Blue.” Some of the older patrons in Moody Theater were moving around in their chair as Gourley belted out Roger Waters’ lyrics. The band exited saying “thank you,” but only to return a few minutes later to perform “Sleep Forever,” the album closer on In The Mountain In The Cloud.
This has been a pretty successful month in Austin for Portugal. The Man, having performed their debut ACL taping and two weekends at Austin City Limits Festival. Their episode will premiere on PBS sometime early next year, so be on the look out for it.
* Live photos by Scott Newton, courtesy of KLRU.