Just Passing ThroughJanuary 18th, 2012
Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – January 17, 2012
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