Tag Archives: Portugal. The Man

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The Dig Charm Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday Night

February 27th, 2017

The Dig – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 25, 2017

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The Dig have been making a name for themselves in the New York City music scene for more than five years, and Saturday’s performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg was proof of why—the band closing the show with disco lights and a wildly excited crowd. With their addictive shoegaze rock, the Dig had everyone in the audience smiling and dancing along. The local quartet has been touring in support of their recent release, Bloodshot Toyko, a bewitching album that hooks in listeners from beginning to end.

Thanks to their melting pot of sounds—deftly mixing garage punk, shoegaze lyrics and alt-rock vibes—the Dig have, unsurprisingly, toured with some big names like the Lumineers and Portugal. The Man. On Saturday night, they rocked across the stage and filled the Brooklyn venue with reverberating bass and drums, also playing material from their You & I EP. The Dig’s vocalist and bassist, Emile Mosseri, displayed an impressive vocal range, going from slow and soft to high and captivating. By keeping the show upbeat, taking selfies with fans while playing and using a disco ball to beautifully light the floor, the Dig kept things interestingthey never disappoint. —Karen Silva | @ClassicKaren

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Portugal. The Man Are Well Worth the Wait at The Bowery Ballroom

November 8th, 2016

Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – November 7, 2016

Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – November 7, 2016
It’s been a while since New York City has gotten a proper headlining show from Portugal. The Man. While there have been some coheadlining bills to keep their fans (slightly) satisfied over the past couple of years, the packed house at The Bowery Ballroom last night was justifiably antsy awaiting the Portland, Ore., band. That wait was filled with a psychedelic variety show of openers from stand-up comedy to German rappers. PTM have filled their tour with an upside-down assortment of friends, giving the entire affair a family feel that extended to the sold-out audience. Indeed, to be a fan of the group has a part-of-the-club feel and the room felt filled with diehards hoping their heroes would deliver.

Not to worry: Portugal. The Man’s set was well worth the wait. They opened with the title track to their 2007 album, Church Mouth, which hasn’t been in their repertoire for many years but still sizzled with up-to-date energy. The even older “Chicago”—its frenetic blasts of punk-prog, frontman John Gourley singing, “Burn this motherfucker down”—followed, and it was clear that this was a PTM that NYC hadn’t seen for quite some time. The rest of the set list was an expertly designed back and forth through the Portugal. The Man songbook, old and new, alternating from beautiful to cathartic to pure evil accompanied by unique bulbous lights, spheres of colors giving the effect of a sci-fi rock show. The crowd reveled in the invigorated set, the band artfully stringing together multiple songs, finding new places to insert extra guitar excursions and strobe-light climaxes.

“All Your Light” has long been a set centerpiece, but last night it seemed to realize its full potential as a triumphant suite with multiple bass-drum-guitar-keys rock-outs, eventually peaking with the outro to the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” feeling very much like it could have been a PTM original. Along the way, they still managed to hit all the beloved sing-alongs and pretty much all of their most recent Evil Friends album, although with plenty of impressive reinvention throughout, stretching the set well past the 100-minute mark. They finally finished with an expert pairing of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” with their own “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” everyone in the crowd triumphantly singing, dancing and waving their hands in the air, hoping it won’t be too long before the next one. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com

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Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man Provide a Glimpse of Summer

May 17th, 2016

Cage the Elephant/Portugal. The Man – SummerStage – May 16, 2016

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Those waking up on Monday morning in the NYC area probably had a tough time believing that summer was almost here. With temperatures in the unseasonably low 40s, seeing music outdoors wasn’t an obvious activity for later that evening. But when showtime rolled around, the wind had died down, and Central Park’s SummerStage was packed with people who were more than comfortable as they kicked off the summer-concert season with plenty of temperature-raising rock and roll from the stage.

As far as double bills go, the pairing of Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man was relatively inspired. In fact, at times the two sets seemed to echo each other, as if the bands were two sides of the same sheet of paper, each providing answers to the questions posed by the other. Portugal. The Man got things rolling: In contrast to the last time they performed at SummerStage, with lasers and clouds of smoke, they played mostly in daylight, but their set was anything but sunshine. Delving deep into a set list built largely from their Evil Friends and In the Mountain in the Cloud albums, frontman John Gourley and the band found new life in the tour-tested material, adding pockets of serrated guitar to songs like “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” and extraterrestrial synth to “Head Is a Flame (Cool with It).” The crowd sang along and everyone found their mid-July dancing form, truly enjoying the band’s first NYC appearance in more than a year and a half. A new song was synth-psych Motown, Gourley singing about “coming in hot like it’s summer in the city we’re living in.” The sound dialed in about halfway through their hour-long set, building to a crescendo that peaked as the sun set with “All Your Light,” a fireworks display that opened into four distinct well-choreographed jams of varying intensity that eventually returned to a completely redesigned final verse leading to a blistering take on the outro riff from the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

With the sun fully set, Cage the Elephant began to build the energy even higher. Their opening number, “Cry Baby,” was like a distorted-guitar so-heavy Beatles, lead singer Matthew Shultz bounding and thrashing across the stage. By the second song, “In One Ear,” the audience was ready to clap, sing and dance along as the this-is-a-rock-show lights were in full bloom of the purple, yellow, reds and blues of Portugal. The Man’s set closer. At some point, someone in the crowd threw a phone onstage and got a unique-vantage photo, the summer’s-almost-here party vibe making its annual pilgrimage into the hearts and minds of young rockers everywhere. From there, the show was a dark and smoky dance party, shades of solstice sunshine in “Trouble” with its central core of “ooowoowoo.” Instead of singing about “evil friends,” Shultz warned that there “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” The sold-out audience basked in the reds and blues and white strobe lights as the band worked through material off Tell Me I’m Pretty and Melophobia, with occasional rock-out explosions to match the mood. When the show finally concluded and the lights came back on, it was merely mid-spring again, but as the intermingling music of Cage. The Man still buzzed in the Central Park air, it was clear that summer is almost here.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man play SummerStage again tonight.)

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Summer’s Coming: Four Big Shows Next Week in New York City

May 13th, 2016

Summer doesn’t actually arrive for another five weeks or so, but the summer-music season gets kicked off next week in a very big way.

Bowling Green, Ky., quartet Cage the Elephant’s fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty (stream it below), produced by Dan Auerbach, came out last December, impressing Exclaim!: “If your sister were Anita Miller from Almost Famous, she might tell you to listen to Tell Me I’m Pretty with a candle burning. Matthew Shultz has hit the mark lyrically and vocally here, inviting listeners into the emotionally charged and honest world that Cage the Elephant inhabit. Although we still hear his lo-fi, distorted vocals throughout the record, many moments are left confidently unadorned and clear.” Known for their fiery live performances, Cage the Elephant play SummerStage, alongside Portugal. The Man and Broncho, on Monday and Tuesday.


From the land of Britpop, in Manchester, England, the 1975 (above, performing “Love Me” earlier this year on Saturday Night Live) have risen up as a band with global appeal. Their second LP, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (stream it below), arrived in February, topping the charts here and across the Atlantic. “When a band conquers the charts with a fun but inoffensive debut album, you don’t expect them to return with a 17-track follow-up that tempers pop tunes with swampy post-rock instrumentals and references mental health, religion, addiction, loneliness and fame. But the 1975, whose self-titled debut hit number one in 2013, aren’t concerned with playing it safe,” raves NME. They bring their arena-ready rock to Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Wolf Alice and the Japanese House open the show.


Another English band to hit No. 1, Rudimental, the London four-piece, have been making shake-it-don’t-break-it electronic music for just a few years, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming wildly popular. Their sophomore studio album, We the Generation (stream it below), recorded in Jamaica, came out last fall. The Evening Standard noted its “positive vibes” and “their sunny reworking of dingy old drum and bass.” And on Wednesday at SummerStage, they kick off a short tour with the like-minded North London electronic duo Gorgon City. Brooklyn duo Walker & Royce open the show.

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L.A. Trio Wildcat! Wildcat! Make a Home at The Bowery Ballroom

November 25th, 2014

Wildcat! Wildcat! – The Bowery Ballroom – November 24, 2014

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Despite taking their name from a reference to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, Wildcat! Wildcat! don’t sound anything like that film’s soundtrack, but rather they produce hazy tracks perfect for long drives around their home city, Los Angeles. Bassist Jesse Taylor, keyboardist Michael Wilson and drummer Jesse Carmichael garnered plenty of buzz for their early releases, a sold-out 7″ and a self-titled debut EP. And following a busy 2013 touring and supporting Alt-J and Portugal. The Man, the lads released their first full-length album, No Moon at All, this past August.

On an unseasonably warm Monday in New York City, the sunny tracks provided a perfect (if temporary) send-off to the autumn chills. Southern Californians turned The Bowery Ballroom into a party beginning with the slow burner “Tower // W.O.H.L.” Its quiet, starry intro burst into a kaleidoscope of dance beats and an echo of “put your head down low.” The vibe continued with the glimmering guitar lines against floating falsetto on “Garden Grays.” Although they almost played their album in its entirety, Wildcat! Wildcat! made sure to pepper the set with tracks from earlier in their catalog to delight fans.

Notably, Taylor admitted that they hadn’t played “The Chief” in some time, but those in the audience couldn’t tell a bit. Having dropped a cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” on Baeble Music earlier in the day, the trio played their rendition live for the first time. And on a night when Carmichael hacked through not one but two sets of drumsticks, it seemed like nothing could limit the exuberance in the crowded room. Wildcat! Wildcat! ended the show and their tour with an encore of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Portugal. The Man and Grouplove Close Out Tour in Central Park

September 17th, 2014

Portugal. The Man/Grouplove – Rumsey Playfield – September 16, 2014

Portugal. The Man – Rumsey Playfield – September 16, 2014

Portugal. The Man

Midway through their set at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Tuesday—the closing night of the Honda Civic TourGrouplove’s Hannah Hooper declared that the tour was all about “making art.” As incongruous as that may sound, the show was one of those rare instances where live rock and roll was elevated to an art form: the music, the lights, the visuals and the crowd interaction. The pairing of Grouplove with Portugal. The Man was an inspired billing, each band bringing a different aesthetic and energy to the performance, and both inspiring a whole lot of singing along, clapping along, waving arms along, pretty much everything along.

After a big-sound set from Typhoon, Grouplove entered amidst a cloud of smoke and a haze of hip-hop over the PA. Their set was 70 minutes of cathartic, jubilant bounce, beginning with the opening “I’m with You” and its sing-along-ready ah ah ahs and oh oh ohs. The audience was in it from the start. Grouplove’s free-form sing-along contrasted with the visuals, which had a sleek, modern feel, colorful geometric rectangles or simulated multihued television static danced on the large-screen backdrop while the audience danced in front. Everyone loves a hit, and Grouplove played plenty of them, highlighted by the ecstatic groover “Tongue Tied.” The set peaked with the couplet of “Slow” and “Borderlines and Aliens,” and particularly the space in between the two, where lights, the band’s movement and the pulsing drums worked together as one entity, eventually releasing into a wild guitar jam. After a rousing “Colours” to close their part of the show, the band returned for a rare mid-show encore, bringing along members of Portugal. The Man for a crowd-riling version of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” everyone screaming the classic lyrics. Any other night it would have been the ultimate sing-along, but there was more to come.

A quick breather later, Portugal. The Man returned and picked up right where Grouplove left off, with another classic-rock along, covering a verse and a chorus or two of Pink Floyd’s anthemic “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” before quickly kicking into their own “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” Their aesthetic was more bright-eyed psychedelic, like crawling into a living version of frontman John Gourley’s bizarre drawings. That is until the lasers came out, transforming Rumsey Playfield into an alien planet, with Portugal. The Man’s music as a galactic soundtrack. The band was in top form, looping verses of multiple songs into coherent medleys, stretching others, like “All Your Light,” into prog-rock freak-outs and dropping snippets of perfectly placed covers throughout. This was live music as art form, the audience digging every moment and singing from beginning to end. Like Grouplove had done, the band saved the biggest moment for their encore, which began with their slow-build rager “Sleep Forever” and ended with all of Grouplove and Typhoon onstage—horns, strings and all—for the second ultimate sing-along of the night, everyone belting out the coda to “Hey Jude”: the final touch on a work of art. —A .Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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A Modern Band with a Throwback Sound at Rough Trade NYC

August 4th, 2014

U.S. Royalty – Rough Trade NYC – August 1, 2014

U.S. Royalty – Rough Trade NYC – August 1, 2014
After first hearing U.S. Royalty, you might wonder exactly which decade they were popular in and why you’d never heard of them before. Not long after that, you’ll realize that they aren’t a band from the past, but rather, they are just making out-of-this-time rock music while touring the country—in this millennium. The Washington, D.C., foursome brought their throwback sound to Rough Trade NYC on Friday night and dazzled the crowd there for an hour with an excellent blend of songs from their 2011 release, Mirrors, and their new record, Blue Sunshine. And while they might still be a band trying to make a name for themselves, they are certainly worth your time.

Most touring bands with a few years behind them boast a tight musical performance, but U.S. Royalty’s live show was impeccable. Singer John Thornley’s seemingly effortless voice (no easy feat considering some of the high notes he hits), led the way for the beautifully fuzzy melodies backed by lead guitarist Paul Thornley. When bassist Jacob Michael wasn’t keeping the rhythm with drummer Luke Adams, he was way up the neck of his bass, adding in musical touches that most bands would hire another guitarist to pull off.

Some of U.S. Royalty’s catchiest songs, like “Only Happy in the Country,” make you wonder why you at least haven’t heard this band in commercials. Throughout the set they skimmed the waters of psychedelic rock with the rip-roaring set closer “The Desert Won’t Save You,” glam rock with the Garland Jeffreys cover “Wild in the Streets,” and just about every other classic-rock iteration in between. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine them opening for anyone from Gary Clark Jr. to Portugal. The Man and fitting right in. And while their music might seem more at home surrounded by the crackle of aged vinyl, it’s a very good thing that they’re here with us now. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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A Top Five Look Back at 2013

January 10th, 2014


Ten days into the New Year, The House List looks back at 2013 with some Top Five lists.

My Top Five Favorite Shows
1.
The Postal Service, Barclay Center, June 14
My decade-belated live date with the Postal Service finally culminated at Barclays Center, where rabid fans, like myself, roared as Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello hit the stage. As if acting out lyrics from “Nothing Better,” Gibbard and Jenny Lewis shimmied close for the duet. Old friends reunited onstage never felt so good.

2. Haim, Webster Hall, September 3
I was late to this bandwagon, as fellow House List contributor Alex Kapelman shortlisted Haim last year for his Top Five Bowery Presents Shows of the Year. I knew I was in for a good one when I could barely find a spot in the rafters to catch the three sisters, who charmed with their onstage banter and wicked musicianship

3. Jessie Ware, The Bowery Ballroom, January 17
Straight off her Jimmy Fallon taping backed by the Roots, the British songstress elated the crowd with her effortless, down-to-earth stage demeanor. Her star quickly rose with American audiences, as she sold out shows at Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Irving Plaza throughout the year. I was glad to have caught her earlier in the more intimate venue.

4. Basia Bulat, Bowery Ballroom, November 23
I’ve been a fan of Basia Bulat since I heard her cover Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment.” This show on a cold night wasn’t sold out, which made me a little sad since she’s quite the talent. But those who were there were enraptured by her prowess on autoharp to the point that you could hear a pin drop during her solos.

5. Daughter, Bowery Ballroom, April 30
Somehow Elena Tonra manages to disguise heartbreak behind soulful lyrics and melody. She has a knack for turning happy dance songs into somber endeavors. The band mashed-up Bon Iver and Hot Chip’s “Perth/Ready for the Floor” that evening. Check out Tonra’s somber retake of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” for further proof. —Sharlene Chiu

My Top Five Shows I Never Thought I Would See
1. Desaparecidos, Webster Hall, February 26

Desaparecidos (and really any Conor Oberst project) were my bread and butter back in the early aughts, and for a while they seemed to be a one-off, a politically minded side project firmly planted in the past. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the global state of affairs remains messed up enough for the band to regroup to write protest songs for a new decade. It was a nostalgic, sweaty and inspired performance.

2. Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19
Shuggie Otis began putting out music in the mid-’70s, followed by a long period of laying low. Content to groove along to songs like “Ice Cold Daydream” at home, I never really thought about the possibility of a Shuggie Otis tour in 2013. But when I found out, I was there. And “Ice Cold Daydream” is even better in person.

3. The Flamin’ Groovies, The Bowery Ballroom, July 6
Instead of discovering the Flamin’ Groovies in a smoky San Fran club in the ’60s, I was introduced to their catchy psychedelia on a Nuggets compilation more than 30 years later. Who’d have thought they’d still be going strong in 2013 and that I’d be dancing right alongside some old school fans at this fun summer show.

4.  John Prine, Beacon Theatre, September 26
John Prine has been active since the early ’70s, but unlike Shuggie Otis, he never really went away, writing and recording songs at a steady pace throughout the years. But I still always thought of him as an artist too legendary for me to see in person—or that tickets would be too out of reach. But John Prine put on an amazing show, highlighting his singular skills as a songwriter and storyteller.

5. The Julie Ruin, Music Hall of Williamsburg, October 25
I was late to the party for the original riot-grrl movement, but I became an admirer of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna during her time in Le Tigre. She’s dealt with some debilitating health issues in the past few years, but I had no doubt she’d continue to make art and music. So I was happy to learn of her latest project, the Julie Ruin, and her energetic show did not disappoint. —Alena Kastin

My Top Five Shows
1. Yo La Tengo, Town Hall, February 16

I don’t like to pick a favorite, but my last.fm account tells me I’ve listened to Yo La Tengo more than any other band since 2007. At Town Hall, they performed an acoustic set and an electronic one, doing two versions of “Ohm,” my favorite song of the year. And then I ran into Tim Heidecker from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Had the Red Sox not won the World Series, this would’ve been my favorite night of the year.

2. Killer Mike/El-P, Webster Hall, August 14
I don’t care what anyone says: The best two rap albums of 2012 came from Killer Mike and El-P. And in 2013 they topped them, coming together as one entity, Run the Jewels. The night included a set from El-P, a set from Killer Mike and a combined set with both. El-P’s ingenious production plus Killer “I bleed charisma” Mike equals one concert I will never forget.

3. Foxygen, The Bowery Ballroom, October 21
With Foxygen it occasionally feels like shit could fall apart at any moment. And sometimes it does. But when their shows don’t come unhinged they deliver that sweet thrill of relief, like narrowly avoiding a car crash. And on this Halloween-themed night, the band made a weird show even weirder with homemade costumes and pseudo spooky vibes.

4. Steve Earle, Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 8
You can just tell some people are genuine, and Steve Earle is certainly one of them. Forever wearing his heart on his sleeve, that same energy bleeds right into his music, which he played alongside what he’s calling “the best band he’s ever had.”

5. Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, April 4
Not only are the Meat Puppets still kicking (after living through some serious shit), but also they’re thriving. And as much as I respect their legacy, seeing them play for more than two hours with the intensity you’d expect of a band 20 years their junior makes me respect them that much more. Long live the puppets of meat! —Dan Rickershauser

My Top Five Shows
1. Dessa, Union Hall, May 5

There are few performers I feel can move mountains with their vocal chords, and Dessa is one of them. This performance was an eruption of defiant lyrics and bold beats. A sizable crowd of young girls knew all of her lyrics, giving the show a chant-like feel. The only female member of Minnesota’s Doomtree collective practically vibrates with energy, and it’s completely contagious.

2. Kishi Bashi, Irving Plaza, September 12
Kishi Bashi sounds even better live than he does recorded. And he delivered a dazzling set with profuse vocal looping and an excellent backing band. Kauro Ishibashi has a supercharged, effusive aura, and his music embodies that persona. This set took a rowdy turn that involved crowd surfing, strobe lights and an outright jam session.

3. Panama Wedding, CMJ Music Marathon
I happened upon newcomers Panama Wedding three different times during CMJ: Initially, opening for NONONO at Mercury Lounge on the first night. Since the band had only released one song, “All of the People,” I was eager to see what would unfold onstage. Their set was so tight that I caught the fantastical pop group the following night at Pianos and then again at a showcase at Santos Party House.

4. You Won’t, Rockwood Music Hall, October 30
The live iteration of You Won’t is a spectacle to behold. I watched eagerly as Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri wielded a slew of instruments with ease, quickly fascinating the audience. The duo took their jaunty music into the audience a couple of times to break the barrier and enlisted some extra vocal support by encouraging us to all to sing along.

5. James Blake, Terminal 5, November 6
In this spellbinding live performance, complete with plenty of vocal looping and haunting electronica, James Blake made a cavernous room filled with people feel intimate. And that he’s such a dapper-looking fellow only helps boost his appeal. I’m still transfixed by this performance nearly two months later. James Blake’s music has some serious lasting effects. —Schuyler Rooth

My Top Five Shows with Regard to Lights, Visuals and Production
1. Umphrey’s McGee, Brooklyn Bowl, January 20

Kick-ass creative lighting
and Brooklyn Bowl don’t usually go hand in hand, but Umphrey’s McGee lighting guru Jefferson Waful turned the room into a thing of beauty.

2. Föllakzoid/Holydrug Couple, Mercury Lounge, March 21
What better way to enjoy some old school psychedelic music than with some old school liquid projections courtesy of Drippy Eye.

3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
Freakin’ lasers!

4. The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala, Terminal 5, October 1
It was almost as fascinating to watch the Lips’ spectacle getting set up as it was to see it in action—confetti, strobes, LEDs and, well, pretty much everything. And Tame Impala’s projections were no slouch either.

5. Phish, Atlantic City Boardwalk, October 31, November 2
Phish’s fall tour found lighting director Chris Kuroda playing the Willy Wonka of eye candy all over the East Coast. —A. Stein

My Top Five Albums
1. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
I’d only seen Phosphorescent once before listening to Muchacho for the first time. And while much of Matthew Houck’s previous work is country-tinged (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this album, ostensibly about a breakup, covers more territory, from the meditative sounds of “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, an Introduction)” and “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)” to the jammy, driving “Ride On/Right On” to softer fare, like “Muchacho’s Tune,” all centered on Houck’s evocative voice. I still can’t stop listening to it.

2. Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s third full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, comes off as a loving mash note to ’70s rock. You’ll hear bits of the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, but the album expertly manages to sound like something whole and new rather than something derivative.

3. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade
Upon the first couple of listens, I found White Denim’s latest, Corsicana Lemonade, to be too singer-songwriter-y, but I continued to give it a chance, and it opened up to something much bigger, with genre-hopping songs like “Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)” and “Pretty Green”—not to mention some searing guitar parts—grabbing me by the throat.

4. Futurebirds, Baba Yaga
Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Futurebirds, out of Athens, Ga., before writing a preview of their late-May show at The Bowery Ballroom. But while listening to their second LP, Baba Yaga, as I wrote, I became totally enamored of the album—half twangy Southern rock and half spacey reverb.

 5. Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
I love Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze so much, that I can’t believe it’s only No. 5. Labeling it stoner rock, as many have done, is lazy. Although I supposed me calling it laid-back rock isn’t any better. But the fact of the matter is there might not ever be a better album to listen to while walking the streets of New York City with headphones in your ears. —R. Zizmor

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A Big Band on a Big Stage

September 30th, 2013

Portugal. The Man – Terminal 5 – September 27, 2013


Usually fans bemoan the growth of their favorite bands, thinking back to the “good old days” when they still performed in small clubs and were a special secret. But groups like Portugal. The Man always seem to play beyond their size, overstuffing smaller rooms like Mercury Lounge and The Bowery Ballroom with enough energy for an arena and a half. And playing a very sold-out Terminal 5 on Friday night, they proved that for them, bigger is absolutely better.

After the audience sang along with the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” at full volume over the PA—the energy already tilting the meter into the red—Portugal. The Man took the stage in a swirl of smoke. The backdrop, in the shape of a mountain range, was an apt visual for the set they were about to play, which was one music peak after another after another. Portugal. The Man opened with “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” off their new album, Evil Friends, the backdrop absorbing green lasers and geometric shapes as the crowd pumped fists, sang along and danced as one collective unit. The set slalomed through the band’s catalog with multiple songs strung together or mashed up or stretched out in mind-blurring jams. All the while that mountain range transformed, flickering through psychedelic animation (blinking fluorescent eyeballs, anyone?) in perfect accompaniment to the music. Covers and teases were abound, like their take on “Day Man” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia sprouting up organically from the Evil Friends title track. Frontman John Gourley was in top form, singing and holding down lead-guitar duties. His performance of Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind”—a rare standalone moment in a show that otherwise didn’t let up—was a highlight.

The end of the set somehow found its way back to where it began with a full-throttle reprise of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” It was the same song, but somehow different, better, bigger, like the band had put on 20 lbs. of well-toned muscle over the course of the night. Those in the crowd had spent the better part of 90 minutes bouncing and sweating and bumping into one another but they still had enough for an over-the-top, Beatles-flavored encore that began with the long, manic drum-and-guitar-jams of “The Devil,” which metamorphosed into their very own take on “Helter Skelter.” Then they launched into perhaps their longest, most triumphant piece, “Sleep Forever,” the audience climbing one last Day-Glo peak as the climax naturally gave way to a snippet of “Someday Believers” before giving everyone a chance to use up their last bit of energy on a glorious sing-along of the “Hey Jude” coda. It was a big ending for a big show and surely not a soul in the room would have had it any other way. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Portugal. The Man on 9/27

September 24th, 2013

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Portugal. The Man released their seventh album, the acclaimed Danger Mouse–produced Evil Friends in June, and their tour in support of it brings them to Terminal 5 on Friday night. The show is sold out but The House List just so happens to be giving away two tickets. So if you’d like to go, try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Portugal. The Man, 9/27) and a brief message explaining your three favorite things about fall. Eddie Bruiser, an autumn fan, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Boston’s Calling …

May 24th, 2013

While summer doesn’t technically start ’til June 21st, the summer season kicks off today, with the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. And what better way to do that with a music festival featuring a lineup that kicks all 11 kinds of ass over the course of two days and nights at the Boston Calling Music Festival. Tomorrow’s docket includes fun. (above, performing “Some Nights” on Saturday Night Live), the Shins, Marina and the Diamonds, Matt & Kim, Portugal. The Man, Cults, MS MR, St. Lucia and Bad Rabbits. Not to be outdone, Sunday features the National (below, doing “Bloodbuzz Ohio”), Of Monsters and Men, Young the Giant, Andrew Bird, Dirty Projectors, Ra Ra Riot, the Walkmen, Youth Lagoon and Caspian. Pretty great, right? So what are you waiting for? Head directly to Beantown and spend your weekend rocking out.

 

 

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Four Bands, Three Venues, Two Boroughs, One Night

April 23rd, 2012

J. Roddy Walston and the Business > Lucero > Portugal. The Man > the Greyboy Allstars – Webster Hall > Music Hall of Williamsburg > Brooklyn Bowl – April 20, 2012

Just like farmers do with their crops, I rotate my vices. And so although 4/20 is a smoker’s holiday, since I’d just returned to drinking after some time off, I needed to build up my brown-liquor tolerance in preparation for Jazz Fest, two weeks away. So I grabbed a team of idiots and headed out to see four bands at three venues in two boroughs in one night. J. Roddy Walston and the Business got things started at Webster Hall with “Don’t Break the Needle.” The boisterous crowd, which steadily grew throughout the set, throatily sang along from the get-go. It was hard to believe it was only 7:30 on a Friday, but the Baltimore-based band continued with the pedal to the metal, pumping out bluesy rock and roll for nearly an hour, the perfect way to begin our mission.

Next came the country-punk-rock mashup of headliner Lucero. I’m a big fan of their latest album, Women & Work, so I welcomed the chance to finally hear some of the new songs, like “On My Way Downtown,” “It May Be too Late” and “Juniper,” fleshed out live. Lucero was in fine form and singer Ben Nichols’ gravelly, whiskey-soaked voice was as evocative as ever. Having toured together before, these bands are perfect complements and seem, musically, to be two peas in a pod. It was a great one-two punch of party music. But with Webster Hall making the early changeover to club night, we headed to the L to go to Williamsburg for two more shows.

Since I first saw them at Bonnaroo in 2008, Portugal. The Man has steadily gained in popularity and gone through a number of changes. They rarely have the same look—or even lineup—on consecutive tours. But no matter, because their sound remains unaffected. At Music Hall of Williamsburg, frontman John Gourley was no longer front and center, instead positioned all the way to the left, sort of standing sideways. The band covered a fair amount of the The Satanic Satanist and In the Mountain in the Cloud albums. And again, the crowd loudly sang along, especially on “People Say” and the Beatles covers “Helter Skelter” and “Hey Jude.” While the show was sponsored by Jägermeister, the exploratory jams combined perfectly with my now-Jameson-addled head.

The music progressively grew jammier each stop along the way, which worked out well, as our diminishing communication skills had basically become nothing more than head nods and hand signals by the time we reached Brooklyn Bowl for the Greyboy Allstars. And it was refreshing to know after nearly 20 years, this funk-jazz conglomerate is still laying it down. We arrived for part of the third set, which consisted of a fair amount of Michael Jackson teases (if not whole covers). Altogether it was a night of running into old friends while managing to make some new ones, an unlimited amount of hearty “to Levon!” toasts, plus some good old-fashioned drinking in the street and smoking in a cab. It was the perfect warm-up. New Orleans awaits. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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A Predictable Surprise

April 23rd, 2012

Portugal. The Man – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 20, 2012


Small changes may be difficult to appreciate in the moment, but when made over longer stretches of time, they can amount to something significant. Take Portugal. The Man: If you had gone to see one of their shows just last spring and then fast-forwarded to Friday night’s sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, you would have noticed different personnel, songs, lights, jams, gear—even where the musicians stood would have been different. The changes were gradual along the way and through them all, the band has delivered a superlative live show both because of them and despite them.

Friday’s set opened with the explosive “All Your Light” drawing in the crowd immediately. With multiple recent New York City visits, there was a very friendly musical give-and-take between the band and crowd. Indeed the bulbous lights from last tour now seem untethered from the stage, extending out into the audience, almost like a lumpy, clawed hand reaching out to pull in the dancing masses. The lights were perfectly choreographed to the music, flipping orange and yellow during “The Sun,” surprisingly changing to every color but red, white and blue for “So American” and then bouncing across the rainbow for “Colors,” which was an excellent readdition to the set list.

While John Gourley and Zach Carothers remain the brain and heart of Portugal. The Man, Noah Gersh, on second guitar, has become deeply embedded in the sound, adding fleshy solos, elevating jams and mixing in new textures with some well-placed acoustic guitar. The set closed with a triumphant, build-to-climax “Sleep Forever.” Despite all the tweaks, it felt like a well-worn constant, a slightly different band beneath an altered array of lights playing as well as ever. Then, just when things felt comfortable, the band slipped into the well-known coda to “Hey Jude,” with everyone again singing in unison. It was a surprise and yet totally predictable, because with Portugal. The Man the more things change, the more they stay the same. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Portugal. The Man on 4/20

April 17th, 2012

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You know ’em. You love ’em. And they’re back. That’s right, Portugal. The Man plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday, and the show sold out quickly. But don’t fear, because The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Portugal. The Man, 4/20) and a brief message explaining your plans for 4/20. Eddie Bruiser, who’s got an itinerary of his own but is looking for some creative suggestions, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Just Passing Through

January 18th, 2012

Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – January 17, 2012

(Photo: Gregg Greenwood)

On top of all the other things that make New York City a AAA-rated live-music town is that it’s a place you often have to go through on your way to somewhere else. So, as the guys in Portland, Ore.-based Portugal. The Man ready to cross the ocean to support the Black Keys in Europe and play some festivals and dates in Australia, they found themselves in town, and what better way to spend time here than with a couple warm-up shows? Tuesday night’s gig at The Bowery Ballroom was a free event put on by Pandora for lucky die-hards, the second event of what the Internet radio station hopes will be many to link fans with the bands they “click through” on Pandora.

As the show launched with a short spasm of instrumental jamming, it appeared that the sponsor of the night was a perfect one. The set proceeded like a Pandora station with stream-of-consciousness linking of genres and influences. The band bubbled up some straight rock, punk, reggae and plenty of are-we-on-acid psychedelia, dropping in covers of the Beatles, Oasis and Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” while always maintaining their unique Portugal. The Man-ness. The first thirty minutes were a continuous in-your-face block of interlaced songs, tight jams, flashing lights and smoke machines. And when it seemed the energy couldn’t get any higher, the show settled into a nice groove, as the band highlighted songs from its entire catalog, with particular emphasis on the The Satanic Satanist and In the Mountain, in the Cloud albums.

Frontman John Gourley complained of rustiness: his hands ached after “not playing guitar all winter” (has winter even started yet?), and there were a few forgotten lyrics and bumpy finishes along the way. But the lucky attendees in the crowd barely noticed or seemed to care as they matched the band’s energy for a nonstop 90-minute show that felt like three hours and still plenty short. If this was just the warm-up, Portugal. The Man is undoubtedly ready to take on the world. —A. Stein