Article By: Jessica Zamurut
Portugal. The Man’s performance at Red Rocks was passionate and captivating. The band not only showcased their unique sound and vibe, but also gave a beautiful demonstration of how much good people with public presence can do. Portugal’s music is transcendent -- providing the listeners with a full-sensory experience. The deep bass infusing itself with the chests of thousands of fans, and lyrical exclamations to provoke thought and new perspective. I eagerly walked up the ramps and stairs that seem to go on forever, observing the diverse crowd. Families, teenagers, and solo travelers alike swarmed the stands and filled the ingrained amphitheatre to full capacity. During the brief set-up break before Portugal began, I got the opportunity to talk to some of the people sitting around me about why they came to see the show. A mother and son from Georgia sitting nearby told me: “...my son has been an avid fan of them for years. When he finally showed me their music, and what they stand for, I knew we had to come!” An older man standing in the row below me said: “...listening to Portugal transports me to a happy place...the warmth of nostalgia with the excitement of the new, alternative sound”.
After more lighthearted conversing, the lights went out. I could see the silhouettes of the band members assume their positions on the stage. Surprisingly, bright white lights came on, illuminating the stage and everybody on it. Lead singer John Gourley stood in front of a mic sporting a black hat with white devil horns, a black denim jacket decorated with colorful patches and tags, black jean shorts, black and white sneakers, and a bright white electric guitar with holographic tape on it. He began introduced the band (all dressed in black) and thanked the audience for coming to the show. The crowd happily cheered as each member waived. Gourley then asked three special guests. The crowd went silent as three Lakota Indians, one man and two women, walked on stage. They introduced themselves, then the man went on to describe the 7th Generation Prophecy. Referred to colloquially as “the age of the daughters”, the man described the rising of divine feminine power, and how this Native American belief ties into the Live Life Call to Action Campaign. He spoke of the importance of viewing everything in this world, especially the connections shared between people and the earth, as absolutely sacred. The crowd ecstatically cheered in agreement with their philosophy, touched to see Portugal chose to utilize their fame, and raise awareness to sentiments that must be remembered and acted upon.
After the speech, Portugal let loose. Colorful lasers shot into the sky, bass chords shook from the foundation of the amphitheatre, to the center of my chest. The audience danced and sang along to every song, chanting the words as if they lived inside of their own minds. Each track melted together, creating a long, cohesive jam. They went on to play many songs off of their 2017 album, Woodstock, including: “Live in the Moment”, “Keep On”, “So Young”, and their biggest hit, “Feel It Still”. Portugal utilized technicolor lasers/lights, as well as smoke to enhance their booming sound. Similarly, there were wild projections throughout the performance, showcasing the edgy, humorous nature of the band. Everything from cartoon blue people swimming in red seas and moving oil slicks, to quotes such as: “We are Portugal. The Man, I’m just making sure you’re at the right concert” in the heat and smoke of a ringing tune, and “Real bands don’t need singers” during a calm jam. After about 14 songs, the concert was complete. People’s smiles never left their faces as we all walked down those ramps and stairs to the parking lots.
Even after the band’s music stopped, there was still a viable buzz in the air. Listening to Portugal. The Man and seeing them live are two different experiences. While they are great on recording, nothing can compete with standing there, experiencing the energy of the Icelandic group in person. Their alternative rock offers a transcendent get-away while standing still. With poignant lyrics with important messages such as: “...let’s live in the moment…”, “...one day the world may end,but there's still plenty to discover…”, as well as many vivid images of love, loss, and overcoming challenges, colorful visuals to mesmerize, and courteous showmanship, I would highly recommend Portugal. The Man live to anyone and everyone!