Soundboard

Portugal. The Man emerges from darkness to take on world

Tahoe Onstage

Portugal. The Man opens its worldwide tour in Reno. Visually, it was classic indie band chic and mystery.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Michael Smyth

With Portugal. The Man’s main set concluded and his bandmates taking a quick rest before the encore, bassist Zachary Carothers wandered out onto a fully lit stage and grabbed a microphone.

“This is not right!” he bellowed. “It’s the first night of (the) tour and I feel great, and I have all this energy and I’m not hungover… it’s just not right!  But we’re in Reno and I can tell you that means it will all change tonight — and tomorrow I’ll be back on track!”

Big cheers ensued, natch. Portland, Oregon based rockers PTM kicked off a massive world tour Wednesday night in Reno at a sold-out Grand Sierra Theater, and from all accounts feeling great and not being hungover resulted from a sharp, tight performance of a band on its game from the start.

Entering to their standard “Unchained Melody” walk-on music, they wasted little time after a “Bells” intro jumping into their anthem of generational egocentrism “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.”  Frontman John Gourley spent the entire evening bundled up in a cap and North Face jacket, keeping his unique and versatile falsetto well protected. Postured behind a microphone and a massive tray of effects, Gourley moved the tone of his vocal up and down to match keys effortlessly all evening. Catchy hooks and airy melodies paired nicely with Kyle O’Quin’s poppy keyboards.

Tahoe OnstageWhen things would start sliding toward indie pop, Adam Howk’s guitars injected the needed edge to tug things back to a rock show. Animated bassist Carothers, along with drummer Jason Sechrist, consistently displayed their versatility, creating the right foundations regardless of tone.

The arrangement of the set, and lighting director choices created a nice flow of changing tempo and textures. Visually, it was classic indie band chic and mystery as Portugal. The Man members spent the majority of their time onstage with little or no light on them, exposed to the audience with only brief, brilliant flashes of light. It works, though, letting the collective layers of the band and visuals be the show rather than focusing individual performances.

The video screen behind the band displayed the expected psychedelic images, along with a bit of over-fascination of the exposed female breast. Lasers, as the crowd was warned about prior to the start of the show, were integral in their role but not over-used.  Playful messages were also used such as confirming it was Portugal. The Man onstage and making sure you’re at the right concert, as well as poking fun at some other bands with the message, “That’s right kids. No computers up here. Just live instruments.”

There weren’t a lot of surprises or rarities in the set, as the band stuck with its most popular tunes, but several included homage interpolations to rock’s pantheon. “Atomic Man” and “Modern Jesus” from 2013’s “Evil Friends,” for example, were enhanced with respective nods to The Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath.

The breadth of generations in the crowd were testament of the creativity Portugal. The Man offers listeners. They’re certainly no one-trick repetitive, pony and I really enjoyed the variance in their presentations from tender to violent.

This tour won’t conclude until late October. Based on their performance in Reno, maybe rested and not hungover would be a great way to be as good approaching Halloween as they were for the 3,000 at the acoustically pleasant Grand Sierra Resort on Wednesday.

– Michael Smyth

About Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth moved to Reno in 2007 after living more than 40 years in the Bay Area. In addition to going to live shows, he enjoys golf, skiing and fly-fishing. Check out his website www.bombilations.com

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