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Portugal. the Man Plays Charlotte, NC

Rock bands from Alaska.

There’s not many of them, especially rock bands from Alaska that own a Grammy. In fact, Portugal. the Man may be the only one. Within the past year, Portugal. the Man has put their state and hometown, Wasilla, on the musical map. Defying the odds when they were against them, Portugal. the Man has proven to be one of the most hardworking and persevering bands. With their hometown having a population of just under 10,000 people, growing up, the band was very isolated from the musical revolution taking place in the rest of the United States. Joking that their inspirations when they were young were dog mushers, they admit the very little access they had to music. Forming in high school, and heavily admiring punk music, the band would discover songs through skate videos and mixtapes. Given that punk did not appear on Alaska radio stations, they had to take it upon themselves to discover new music.

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Taking risks and ultimately being themselves is what has helped Portugal. the Man to achieve the success they now have. With over 529 million streams on Spotify on their hit song “Feel It Still”, and a new album, “Woodstock” that proved to be a major makeover for the band, Portugal. the Man is one of the most important acts in the rock scene today. With a goal to revitalize alternative rock, the band pushes to avoid the pit of stereotypical song structure, sappy songs about girls, and politically correct lyrics. They’re not your average pop hit, top chart band, and they plan to keep it that way.

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When making their most recent album Woodstock, the band struggled to create new material that pleased and motivated them to continue. It had been three years since the release of their last album, and having previously released an album per year, things weren’t looking too hot. It wasn’t until lead singer, John Gourley, went back home to Alaska that they found an answer to their issue and their musical career was changed for the better. Gourley spent time with his father discussing his confusion and frustration with the band’s current standpoint.

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Searching for inspiration, fate took hold when he found his father’s ticket stub from the Woodstock music festival in 1969. Realizing the importance of the event and artists’ entitlement to speak out, he contacted the band with a new outlook and perspective. Once again, going against all normality, they decided to throw out all the work they had done in attempt to create the next album and started over. With a clean slate and a life changing high to feed off of, Portugal. the Man completely rebranded themselves and emerged back into the rock world, bigger and better with the release of  Woodstock.

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Returning to Charlotte as a part of their 2018 tour less than a year after their sold out show at the Fillmore in October, this time at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, they returned to a bigger venue with a larger production, but the same attitude.

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Always taking a different approach to things, before their set, bass player, Zach Carothers came out onstage to discuss the importance of local tribes.

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Coming from Alaska, they acknowledge and respect the tribes that protect land and how it influences all citizens. He then invited young members of the local Catawba tribe onstage to speak about their dedication and work they contribute to the Catawba Nation.

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Sparking conversation and cheers from the crowd, Portugal. the Man began the night by encouraging respect for the native people and activism for their rights.

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Before emerging back onstage, a clip of Beavis and Butthead mixed in with segments of the music video for “Feel It Still” was projected onto a giant backdrop the size of the stage as an introduction. And once the introduction was complete, the band dove right into a cover of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. With a long instrumental section, it hyped the crowd up for the night and their next song “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”,  a song that discusses society’s snobby outlook and unwillingness to work, especially for those who are born rich and become celebrities. With psychedelic images playing on the screen behind them in vibrant color, fans began to feel Gourley’s desire to live in ecstasy dancing freely and singing along to the band’s bluntly honest song about life.

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The band didn’t spare their hits for the end of their set. Instead, they played “Live In The Moment” and then “Feel It Still” merely 2 songs later, as if they wanted to get them out of the way to get down to their other material. Before playing “Feel It Still”, Portugal. the Man displayed a message on their projector “Your mom loves this song”. With the projector they used the backdrop to display witty comments throughout the night like “We are Portugal. the Man! Just making sure you’re at the right concert”, “real bands don’t need lead singers”, and “ya’ll like smokin’ weed?”.

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As Gourley began to sing the iconic “Feel It Still”, the all too familiar bass intro queued and along joined the synth claps and horns. Although “Feel It Still” has been completely overplayed on the radio, I still can’t bring myself to hate this song. There’s something about it that is so classy and catchy that continues to have me nodding my head and dancing to the beat. It is the same reason Portugal. the Man WILL be more than a one hit wonder. They know how to craft songs and please themselves as well as their audience.

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If there is one thing that is to be said about Portugal. the Man, it is that at their live shows, they want the main focus to be on their music. They put in great effort to take themselves out of the spotlight both figuratively and literally. Like, if you were at the show and 10 rows back, you couldn’t see the band. With no spotlight and only a projector for their stage decoration, it made it extremely difficult to see more than a silhouette of the artists. However, no fans seemed to be too bothered by this and overall, focused more on the music. Another thing I concluded is that Carothers appears to be the spokesperson for the band. Gourley spoke a possible total of 5 words throughout the night leaving all the necessary discussion for his fellow band members. Although little was spoken in order to allow for more playtime.

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Before ending the, Portugal. the Man played “Holy Roller [Hallelujah]”, a strong alternative rock song from their 2013 album, “Evil Friends”. Then, “Sleep Forever”, a slower song with heavy soul guitar and dreamy vocals that echo in the first verse and into the chorus. A perfect song to end the night, the band left fans feeling content and pleased. With no encore, they thanked those who came out to their show and left with a “see you next time”.

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As the Portugal. the Man only has a few dates left on their 2018 tour, we can’t wait for whatever they have in store next. With a new perspective on their musical career, we can only imagine their success to come. As 2017 and 2018 have been quite a whirlwind for Portugal. the Man, all we can say is that they have deserved it. Their unending hard work and perseverance ultimately has gotten them to where they are now and will continue to carry them throughout their musical journey.

See the full gallery here!

Catch this tour:

Sat 5 PM762 guests
Forest Hills, New York
Sun 7:30 PM1,456 guests
Fri 7 PM AKDT5,777 guests
Anchorage, AK

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