Here we go again, into the packed Palace. The hype for Portugal. The Man is high. They are coming off of a Grammy-winning group performance for “Feel It Still” from their eighth (8th!) studio album, Woodstock, that came out the middle of last year.
Their opener, Twin Peaks, is no stranger to the Palace. They opened for Spoon here last year. Promoting their own recent release of psychedelic garage rock, they are a fantastic opener for Portugal. The Man.
Led by Cadien Lake James, Twin Peaks is such a great, mood-setting band. Sweet ’17 Singles Series is the band’s fifth album. They play a great range of melodies with an energy people can get into and simply enjoy. “Tossing Tears” and “Holding Roses” are great examples of a mellow psychedelic-rock fusion sound. They really get up there and jam.
Twin Peaks also seem like the most chill people ever. There’s definitely a great punk influence in them as well. Some great riffs by Clay Frankel on guitar and Colin Croom on the keys help the whole five-piece play off each other. They’ve been playing together since 2009 and are simply delightful.
As Twin Peaks left the stage, The Palace got really dark. People were very excited. People started having a shadow puppet dogfight on the massive projector screen on the back of the stage. The anticipation was real. I squeezed my way through into the pit, barely. I waited.
Portugal. The Man enter, like fighters to the ring, to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers— in its entirety. By the end, the crowd is chanting along to the beloved song. There is a huge sign projected on the back wall that says the band are not much for stage banter, but will put up some management approved phrases. They are really truly all about the music. The experience feels like one long fluid song that stops only a handful of times for thank yous.
They came out swinging hard, with deep bass and two covers. The first was “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica, which was amazing. Fog floods the stage, deep red. Their lead singer, John Gourley, with horns on his head, makes a great one-two punch with Zach Carothers (bass). The rhythm guitarist, Eric Howk, is planted next to Gourley in a wheelchair. Their whole lighting display, lasers aimed up from the ground, fired as they jumped into a cover of “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2” by Pink Floyd.
The core of their set had some of their biggest hits including “Modern Jesus,” “Live In the Moment” and “Feel It Still.” The energy of the crowd was so high. John and Zach made great use of the stage. There was a large screen on which bodies are being projected. There are different mosaics of blank bodies, faces, skeletons, and images of people and splattering paint. The most unique aspect of this very fluid concert was the covers, mostly Beatles songs, that were mashed together.
As I mentioned in my last article for First Aid Kit, The Palace was absolutely packed for the sold-out show. If you get there early, you should anticipate having to fight your way to leave at any point during the show. This time it was a bit more intense. The show was, as you can imagine, also much louder.
Around 11 o’clock, I could really smell the weed. This show is really an experience for a lot of fans and I certainly enjoyed myself. Portugal goes song to song without many breaks, making it feel like an endless flow of Portugal. The Man. They leave funny musings like “Kyle Doesn’t Want To Get High With You, He’s Straight Edge” or “We Don’t Like To Talk About Politics, but Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.”
A big unsung hero, I will say, was Kyle O’Quin on the keys. The synth really kicks toward the end of the set and you suddenly realize how essential a role he plays in all of this. He enthusiastically switches from synth, to organ, to keys from song to song and does a great job transitioning the band in the background. As they get into “Holy Roller,” they hammer it out and wail the final note. Then they simply say “Thank You” and leave the stage, leaving a “Standby” sign in the back. They leave for a bit and then come back on saying they are excited to play two sold-out shows back to back at the Palace Theatre.
The encore meshed together a few songs: starting with “Sleep Forever” and “Smile,” then incorporating other Beatles songs like “Hey Jude” and Wing’s “Live and Let Die.” John dawns a modulated voice that was accompanied by light and plucky guitar. Very psychedelic sounding, like his voice was being fed through a wa-wa pedal. Just phenomenal to the end. They play again tonight at the Palace Theatre. It is absolutely sold out so get there early. It’s a hell of a show.
For Whom the Bell Tolls – (Metallica Cover)
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 – (Pink Floyd)
Purple Yellow Red and Blue
Live in the Moment
Feel It Still
All Your Light (Times Like These) / I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – (Beatles)
Hip Hip Kids
Holy Roller (Hallelujah)
Sleep Forever / Smile/ Live and Let Die / Hey Jude – (Beatles)