Portugal. The Man wasted little time digging into their distinct discography of psych-pop, funk and indie rock when they took the stage at Brooklyn Bowl. With a modest, whisper-and-you-could’ve-missed-it introduction from bassist Zach Carothers, the band launched into “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” a groovy track with enough stamina to doubly open the show and close it. Frontman John Gourley, sporting a beanie and an oversized coat, appeared at home and comfortably in his head, as he and Carothers jammed. It became clear from this moment forward that Portugal. The Man’s members were there to enjoy their set just as much as their fans were.
There’s no shortage of bands that lean on LED screen visuals to do the heavy lifting of a performance, but Portugal’s spasmodic light shows and displays seemed to aptly accentuate the music: The rousing cadence of “Chicago” kept in stride with the blue, pink and white lights, which were flashing overhead at a seizure-inducing pace. And as Portugal breezed through the synth-heavy “Creep In a T-Shirt,” trippy, ’70s-inspired artwork projected in the background. Most of the time, all the audience could see were the band members’ silhouettes, letting the music and light show take all of the attention.
Gourley’s soulful delivery gleamed on tracks like “Feel It Still,” but awkwardness ensued when he apparently blanked on a portion of “So American” (in his defense, there was a pungent aroma circulating the venue, okay?). The frontman, however, redeemed himself with a zestful closing of “Atomic Man,” going out more explosive than when he came in.
Photos by Erik Kabik