Portugal. The Man at Blue Hills 

September 24, 2018 | By Cayley Ross, Photos by Sophie Cannon

Photos by Sophie Cannon

The phrase, “actions speak louder than words” holds a new meaning for attendees of Portugal. The Man’s Blue Hills Bank Pavilion show on Sept. 23. The band prefaces every show with a written caveat projected on a large backdrop screen that they are “never very good at stage banter,” they “thank you for understanding,” but many fans feel that the band more than makes up for this lack of dialogue in show quality.

Before beginning their last show of the tour, PTM’s bass player, Zach Carothers, introduced Cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Carothers explained that being from Alaska, they care deeply about local tribes and “[respect] that this land is theirs [the native tribes’],” and they have been asking local tribes to speak at the beginning of each show on the tour. Cromwell, chairman of the Cape Cod tribe, led a chant of “Hoka Hey” as members of the tribe performed a traditional dance and song. Before leaving the stage, Cromwell urged the audience to call a congressman to support congressional bill H.R.5244 and the reaffirmation of Mashpee reservation lands. 


Portugal. The Man’s performance began with their take on Beavis and Butthead. On screen, the infamous cartoon idiots poke fun at the band’s music video for “Feel It Still” saying, “look at his mustache,” teasing lead singer and rhythm guitarist John Baldwin Gourley. After more banter regarding his “complicated facial hair” they came to the realization that “he’s not misunderstood It is us who have misunderstood,” finally concluding that “this is the greatest band that has ever walked the earth.”  With that, the group took the stage and the show finally began. 

The band opened with an instrumental cover of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” followed by Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2,” leading into PTM’s own “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” They continued with songs from their most recent album, “Woodstock,” such as “Number One,” “Live in the Moment,” “So Young,” and “Noise Pollution.” They also sprinkled in songs from older albums including “Modern Jesus,” “Creep In a T-Shirt,” “Hip Hop Kids,” and “Sea of Air.” 

Occasional quips flickered across the screen throughout the show. During “Atomic Man,” the screen read, “We’re Portugal. The Man! Just making sure you’re at the right concert. Don’t worry, we are playing that song right after this.” The band’s hit single, “Feel It Still,” was, of course, next on the setlist — “Your mom loves this song,” the screen read. 


Eventually, they transitioned back into an instrumental period with the screen reading, “Real bands don’t need singers.” After an impressively long onstage jam session, they performed a few more songs to end the show, before briefly returning to the stage for an encore of “Sleep Forever,” “Smile,” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” 


Never seeming to take a break (the stage was silent maybe once in the whole show) and with a constant stream of colorful patterns and images on the screen in the background, PTM achieved a 60s/70s rock vibe with a modern twist that can only be described as psychedelic — appropriate, considering the title of the latest album. 


With similar tones of oldies music out of the 70s, opening act Lucius performed a mournful, yet calming, mix of strong harmonies and folksy guitar. Lead singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, who have been singing together for 13 years, reminisced, “We started singing right here in Boston… this is where it all began for us.” Everything matched, from the singers’ black and gold capes, to their Blondie-esque, platinum blunt bob haircuts, to their perfectly in-sync rhythm and harmonies. With funky costumes and Cirque du Soleil-style backup dancers, they played up the colorful and unconventional aspect of the evening that would continue through both their set and the headlining act.