Portugal. The Man performed to an energetic and appreciative crowd at the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, CA as part of the Hilton Honors Concert Series 2019. Guests were treated to an open bar and free food in the hour before the band took the stage.
The crowd was a mix of young and old professionals. Attendees redeemed their Hilton points—earned by staying in Hilton hotels—to attend the concert. There was a decent line outside the venue some 20 minutes before the show started.
Once inside the Troubadour, people flocked to the upstairs bar lounge and balcony, or crowded around the downstairs bars, while servers made circles around the room, delivering bite-sized food on platters. In one corner of the venue, organizers had free t-shirts and silk-screening so guests could make their own customized prints (so long as they stuck to the pre-approved corporate propaganda slogans). Music pumped out of speakers, and the room had a comfortable vibe to it.
The Troubadour itself is one of the most unique live venues in LA. History aside, it has all the worn-in comfort you’d expect of a neighborhood dive bar, along with the intimate feel of a small club and sound quality to rival any other theater. It’s like seeing a show in a shoebox. It’s great. It’s comfortably cramped. God bless whoever hooked up their A/C. Up on the balcony, it feels like you are practically leaning over the stage.
Food ranged from bite-sized sliders served on slender wooden cheese boards, to tiny bowls of mac and cheese complete with mini plastic silver tridents. Here is my comprehensive, objective, and unobjectionable review of the food:
- Mac and Cheese (6.1/10) – Hard to mess up mac and cheese. A little too gloopy for my taste, almost like it was thickened with cornstarch. Good cheddar flavor.
- Tacos (2/10) – A salt bomb. Couldn’t taste anything else. Surprising given how fast the tacos flew from the hands of the servers. Maybe I just got a bum one.
- Sliders (5/10) – meh.
- Salted Brownies (10/10) – The savior of the bunch. Almost fudge-like consistency, and with just enough flaky salt to balance the richness. Seriously good.
Portugal. The Man took the stage promptly at nine. They opened with a thrash-metal instrumental that lasted a few minutes and reminded me of “Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head. They continued on, stringing their songs together through a combination of instrumental bridges and snippets of classic songs like “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd, “I Want You/She’s So Heavy” by the Beatles and “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. The band was extremely tight throughout, and the performance could only be summed up as exceptional. Highlights included their songs “Holy Roller (Hallelujah),” “Atomic Man” and “Live in the Moment.”
The light show and visuals were awesome as well. From laser disco lines to misty ground lights that responded to rhythmic hits, the lights added a ton of atmosphere to the performance. The visual component of the performance, played on a screen behind the band, was wacky and just the right level of unsettling. There were videos of petri-dish, psychedelic burn-out graphics a lá Black Sabbath and repeated videos of an animated, bald, androgynous, naked humanoid who at various times had their body contorted like folding paper in rhythm, had rainbow noodles extracted and hanging from where their face should have been, and other times just ran on screen.
The band also put up cheeky little messages on their video screen like “Real bands don’t need singers” in big block letters during an instrumental part. When singer John Gourley returned, the video screen read “Who ever said we were a real band?” Later in the show, they projected a message saying “Don’t worry, we are playing that song after this,” alluding to their semi-recent smash hit “Feel it Still,” which catapulted Portugal. The Man into the mainstream consciousness.
The band finished with a slower song that that shifted at one point to “Live and Let Die” and at another point to “Hey Jude.” The screen behind Portugal. The Man now read “No computers up here,” indicating their lack of understanding on just what a synthesizer is. They put on a great performance. They did it with instruments. The two are not mutually inclusive.
Anyways, the band finished up and everyone cheered and then the house music came on and it was some Rae Sremmurd-sounding song (it sounded like “Crowd Pleaser” but with a woman rapping/singing) and immediately people started singing along and dancing. I was struck with the impression that for the crowd of road-worn professionals, the party was really just getting started.
Portugal. The Man is a 6-piece rock band from Wasilla, AK, currently residing in Portland, OR. Band members include John Gourley (lead vocals, guitar), Zachary Carothers (bass, backing vocals), Kyle O’Quin (keyboards, backing vocals), Eric Howk (guitars, backing vocals), Jason Sechrist (drums), and Zoe Manville (backing vocals, percussion).