Tag Archives: John Baldwin Gourley

Portugal. The Man at Red Bull Sound Space, KROQ

July 8, 2013
Red Bull Sound Space
KROQ, Los Angeles

What better way to kick off the Monday following a long holiday weekend than with a free show by an amazing band.

Having been to several “radio shows” before, I was a bit skeptical – not of Portugal. The Man‘s performance (I have complete confidence in that), but of the venue and format of the show. Any concerns I had were eliminated instantly upon arriving at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ. Representatives from KROQ, as well as Red Bull, were friendly, inviting, and engaging. Rather than emitting the vibe “You’re so lucky to be here,” the team’s message to all who were there was: “We’re so happy you came. Thank you.”

Nobody has to tell you that you’re lucky to be at a show like this. The moment you enter Red Bull Sound Space, you feel it. The space is intimate, accommodating approximately 150 fans. The backdrop of the stage is like a music time capsule – it’s constructed of speakers, turntables, boomboxes, receivers, and an assortment of other equipment. Rather than being covered in corporate branding or advertising, there is only one element of the backdrop that is branded, and its view is sometimes obstructed by the band. We see the branding, we know it’s Red Bull and KROQ, but when the band walks on stage, it’s about music and nothing else. This is very refreshing.

The show began with a brief, informed, and entertaining interview. It became clear that KROQ’s Nicole Alvarez is truly a fan of the band. She was very familiar with Portugal. The Man’s vast catalog, spoke about her personal connection to the music, and asked relevant questions. I know all of this seems like it should be a given, but it’s not to be taken for granted. This is not something all interviewers do well.

The band’s sense of humor and wit contributed greatly to the interview, as did the way they chose to answer – or not answer – the questions. Not to be confused with selective hearing - John Gourley has an impressive skill: selective responding. Clearly listening to each multi-part question, Gourley zeroed in on aspects where he could provide enough insight, while maintaining some mystery.

When asked about the meaning of their latest album, Evil Friends, or whether or not there’s a theme when they record, Gourley focused on the writing and recording process. He described how the band comes together to write and record in a way that makes you feel like you’re there, in the studio, with them. He left the meaning of the album up to the listeners.

Zach Carothers took on answering some of the questions, as well as chiming in during Gourley’s stories. Each time Carothers answered, he infused humor, often leading to a burst of conversation and laughter among the entire band. During these moments the dynamic personalities, quick wit, and friendship among Portugal. The Man members was undeniable.

My favorite moment during the interview came when Alvarez noted that Portugal. The Man puts out a new album nearly every year. Alvarez added that it seems as though the band is always either touring or releasing an album; they don’t stop. “That’s what we set out to do,” Gourley responded, adding that the band’s chosen goal is to make and play music as much as possible.

Portugal. The Man is a band that understands what it truly means to be musicians – just keep playing music. It’s a simple concept, but it takes constant discipline and dedication, which is what makes it hard for many to achieve. In addition to their music, it’s easy to appreciate and admire Portugal. The Man’s work ethic and commitment.

Playing songs from their latest album, Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man took us on a journey. This is the most stripped-down I’ve seen the band. Even when they played The Troubadour several years ago, Portugal. The Man brought in some of their own “lights” (in quotes because it’s nowhere near the setup they have now). The absence of lights and fog allowed me to appreciate the show on an even deeper level.

It was fun to watch the band build the songs – all the layers, the harmonies, the bass, guitar, keys, percussion, and the timing. When you hear the music, it sounds great. When you see what it takes to create the sound live – the precision of it all – it allows you to appreciate it that much more.

I feel that way each time I see Portugal. The Man. No matter the venue, the lighting, the stage, or the setlist, I take away something new at every show. Their shows are expansive and dynamic. There’s always more to discover when Portugal. The Man plays. They are one of very few bands I see every time they’re in town. 

After playing Creep In A T-Shirt, Evil Friends, Modern Jesus, and Sea of Air, Portugal. The Man announced the next song would be the last of this concise radio set. The audience let out a sigh of  ”Noooooooo….” that was audible until the band launched into “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” At that moment, the sighs became cheers.

When reviewing my pictures from this show, I was surprised to find this. It appears my camera captured “Purple. Yellow, Red, and Blue” in the midst of the show. That’s one hell of a photo bomb, PtM.

 Portugal. The Man is on tour now. Get tickets before they sell out.

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Portugal. The Man: Transforming The Troubadour

September 25, 2009
The Troubadour, LA

Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man

John Baldwin Gourley, Jason Sechrist, Ryan Neighbors, and Zachary Scott Carothers – they call themselves Portugal. The Man but they may want to consider calling themselves Portugal. The Man!!!

Now I know what everybody’s been talking about. . .

Well, let me clarify – not everybody is talking yet.  The show was sold-out, not a celebrity (that I’m aware of) in sight. The Troubadour was packed with actual die-hard, screaming, chanting, singing, moshing, fans.  Give it time – this band is sure to become a Hollywood favorite, and before you know it Drew Barrymore will be rocking right alongside you.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Drew – she actually likes music and enjoys the shows.  It’s the “celebrities” that arrive 37 minutes late and then give you dirty looks because they can’t hear their cell phone conversation over your cheering. . . let’s not tell them about Portugal. The Man, ok? Because they will want to be there.  Everybody is going to want to be there when they find out what they’ve been missing.  The show was epic and it’s only a matter of time until the masses find out, but for now, Portugal. The Man is the best-kept secret around.

They’re not a secret to everyone.  Once you get inside you realize you’re being introduced to something that others have known about for some time.  People greet you with looks that communicate: “Oh good. You finally made it.”  and “Get ready.  You’re in for something. . .” and “Where have you been?! You must be an idiot for not knowing about these guys sooner, but I’m glad you’re here now.” And rightfully so. . .

hhhhh

John Baldwin Gourley

There’s something that overtakes you the moment these guys hit the stage.  You become part of this Portugal. The Man experience. You can’t stop moving, dancing, clapping, screaming.  And we’re talking about LA – a city I love, but one whose residents (myself included) are so spoiled by the access they have to great entertainment that often times they just stand (or worse yet, sit) at a show, never more than a nod of a head and a polite clap. I’ve seen it happen to some of the biggest and best bands in the world. Well, that’s not happening to Portugal. The Man.

Zachary Scott Carothers

Zachary Scott Carothers

Gourley plays guitar masterfully and sings with considerable range and uncompromised passion.  So you’re tempted to just want to stand there and watch him, but you can’t ignore the bass line Carothers throws down and you can’t believe he can play bass while practically doing a full back-bend.  Then Neighbors takes a break from the keys and brings

Ryan Neighbors

Ryan Neighbors

further force to the music, with additional percussion.  All the while Sechrist grounds the songs and the experience as he takes command of the drums. The lights are synced to the beat of the music (which is important to note if you have any hope of capturing a decent photograph of the band while they’re playing) and the crowd can’t contain themselves.  Needless to say, if you wanted to just stand there and watch, there would be plenty to hold your attention. But I don’t think it’s possible to stand still at a Portugal. The Man show, and I can’t imagine that you’d want to.

Transforming The Troubadour

Transforming The Troubadour

If you’ve heard their music and you haven’t seen them live, go see them.  Travel to another city if you need to. If you haven’t heard their music, it doesn’t matter – go see Portugal. The Man – you won’t regret it. Here are their tour dates – you have no excuse.

A religious experience

P.TM - a religious experience

Some people will describe a show as a “religious experience”.  I’ve been to a lot of mind-blowing, extraordinary shows, but I’ve yet to describe one as “religious.”  Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t raised with much religion and those who were don’t speak very highly of it. . . But assuming a “religious experience” is a good thing, that it’s transformative, that it overtakes you, that you forget where you are, that you forget who you are, that for a moment nothing else matters – well, then seeing Portugal. The Man live is a religious experience.

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