Tag Archives: John Gourley


At Brooklyn Steel, Not Much Has Changed for Portugal. The Man

February 21st, 2018

Portugal. The Man – Brooklyn Steel – February 20,2018

Somewhere in the middle of last night’s set at Brooklyn Steel, Portugal. The Man frontman John Gourley sang, “We won’t sell you nothing you can’t use” as part of “Modern Jesus,” which just about perfectly summed up a show that had so much coming at those in the sold-out crowd: lasers and other assorted psychedelic imagery, an onstage dance duo, a Grammy-winning song, deftly placed covers, cheeky humor projected on the backdrop and as much guitars, bass, drums, keys and vocals as the room could handle. Portugal. The Man served up quite a bit over the course of the show and yet, for everyone in attendance, there was nothing there that wasn’t put to good use.

By the time they had gotten to “Modern Jesus” so much had already transpired. With both “Don’t Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “Unchained Melody” playing in full over the PA before the band even took the stage, and then a lengthy hard-core opening jam that weaved through Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” the opening “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” already felt like an explosive release for the audience. The song’s title used to accurately describe their show’s visual color palette, but Tuesday the display featured lasers of nearly every hue bouncing over the heads of the crowd. Even with the success of an all-timer breakout hit, not much has changed for PTM.

In fact, it was less surprising that they had a Grammy-winning song to anchor the midpoint of the set than the fact that it fit right in with some of their most far-reaching material, transitioning directly with little distinction into “All Your Light,” which, in recent years, has swallowed some of their oldest jams and repurposed them for the big rooms. Alternatively, “So American” and “People Say” both drew a powerful response from the audience and felt just as award-worthy. By the time the band reached the too-soon encore, “Holy Roller” encompassed it all, laser-abetted Floydian-freak-outs and chest-thumping metal meltdowns that still, somehow, perfectly accommodated breakdancing onstage. It’s a formula that keeps working for Portugal. The Man, as Gourley also sings in “Modern Jesus”: “The only faith we have is faith in us.” —A. Stein | @Neddyo     





Portugal. The Man – Rough Trade NYC – June 20, 2017

June 21st, 2017

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com


Portugal. The Man – Terminal 5 – June 6, 2017

June 7th, 2017

(Portugal. The Man play Terminal 5 again tonight.)

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


A Double Shot of Portugal. The Man at Terminal 5 This Week

June 5th, 2017

Next week, Portugal. The ManJohn Gourley (guitar and vocals), Zachary Carothers (bass and vocals), Kyle O’Quin (guitar, keys and vocals), Eric Howk (guitar) and Jason Sechrist (drums)—will release their newest album, Woodstock, which features, among others, Richie Havens, Son Little and Fargo’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It’s the band’s eighth long-player, but their first in more than four years. And while four years might not feel like too long, in Portugal. The Man years, it’s close to a geological epoch. With the lead single, “Feel It Still” (above, performed live on KEXP FM), already making waves—its soulful psych-pop working it to the top of the alt-rock charts and its politically charged video drawing the ire of certain media types—the anticipation for Woodstock is high. New York City will get an extra-special preview of songs new and old when Portugal. The Man stop by for two appearances at Terminal 5 this week, tomorrow and Wednesday. (L.A. duo Electric Guest and the Bronx’s own Kemba open each night.) PTM shows are always don’t-miss affairs, combining sing-along hooks, dense, Pink Floyd-ian space-outs and usually a surprise or two. So do yourself a favor: Don’t miss. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


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


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.


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


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


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 | @Hand_Dog

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


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