With the monumental success of Portugal. the Man’s latest album, the band has had to cope with being extremely successful while still staying true to their original sound. Tickets for their two-day run at the Georgia Theatre in Athens February 26-27 sold out relatively quickly, leaving many of their longtime fans worrying that their show would be more of an ode to “Feel It Still” than anything else, but this was not the case. If their Athens, Georgia shows are any indicators of the future of Portugal. the Man, fans can rest assured that the band won’t forget their roots anytime soon, no matter how successful they become.
The setlist of their Tuesday night show in Athens was anything but predictable. While there’s no avoiding playing crowd favorites from their newest album, ‘Woodstock,’ the band still was able to incorporate tracks from their other albums, including ‘Evil Friends,’ ‘In The Mountain In The Cloud’ and ‘The Satanic Satanist.’
Commonly known for covering and repurposing classic hits, Portugal. the Man wowed fans by starting their set with Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” thus setting the stage for the heavy guitar and theatrical light show to come. By no means did the band play song after song just as they come on their albums, but rather, they enhanced their songs with guitar solos and jams. This, combined with the impressive, trippy laser shows and graphic designs, led to a very experience-driven performance. The band succeeded in combining heavy rock, indie-pop and funk to make for an excellent show.
When it comes to personality, the members of Portugal. the Man seemed to embrace a dry, yet loveable sense of humor. At the beginning of the show, the band projected the words “We are not very good at stage banter, so tonight’s performance will feature some slogans written by our management. Thank you for your continued understanding,” on the screen. Sure enough, much of the “banter” was done through screen projections including, “Do you like to smoke weed” and “Thank you for downloading, or stealing, our album.” Their merch also included a shirt that read “I liked Portugal. the Man before they sold out.” Even some of the staff at the Georgia Theatre spoke of how funny and easy-going the band was.
And although they kept talking to a minimum, when someone from the band did speak up, it came across as very genuine. After the band went off stage before the encore, guitarist Zach Carothers came back on with a drink in tow to tell fans how much he appreciated them and how much he enjoyed his time in the “beautiful town” of Athens, Georgia. The rest of the band then joined Carothers for an encore of “Sleep Forever,” “Smile” and a crowd-pleasing cover of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
As fans left the theatre, overall morale was high thanks to the creativity and passion of Portugal. the Man. It’s rare to see a band embrace sudden success in such a positive way, and it seems that the band is only getting better with time.