Scenes From Last Night's Portugal. The Man Show at the House of Blues.
The House of Blues was pitch black. Then a blanket of fog began to creep off of the stage and filter over the first few front rows of the packed, standing-room audience near the front-of-house barricade.
Lighters appeared in the air next, swaying to in fro in the hopes of more light coming in the near future.
Then, as the audience waited with baited breath, the stage lights started to come on. The all-encapsulating black turned green. A distant voice called out.
“All I wanna do is live in ecstasy,” it bellowed.
The crowd picked up on the cue.
“I KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR ME!” the audience shouted back in unison.
Before even the first note of Portugal. The Man's “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” dropped, the tone for the band's headlining performance at the House of Blues had been set.
It was a cool scene. More than that, it was a unique one. Some quick stats: I counted about five handcrafted flower headdresses, four women in muumuus, two guys out front giving away their extra tickets for free, and one solid crowd that wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the night rocking out in unison. It was a genuinely kind crowd, too — a mix of modern hippie revivalists and their adult counterparts, plus laid-back folks in the balcony who sat back and took the whole scene in.
They received quite the treat, too. Portugal. The Man's set was dark for the most part, with a mountain-range backdrop projecting trippy illustrations atop neon and pastel gradients. It was splendid; out in the middle of the crowd, fans in electric neon tribal print shirts and face paintings sang along to pretty much every song.
Overall, the night carried on like a gentle roller coaster as one song transitioned continuously into the next. One moment, the crowd was rocking out to the title track from Portugal. The Man's recently released Evil Friends; minutes later, they'd sing along to the Always Sunny In Philadelphia anthem “Day Man” and The Beatles' “Don't Let Me Down.” Some songs, like “All Your Light,” dragged on for five to 10 minutes with sporadic guitar spurts and a never-ending beat that left the crowd dying for the next chorus. And when it came? More singing.
For the most part, the night served as a showcase for Evil Friends, with a few crucial appearances by cuts from earlier fan-favorite discs Satanic Satanists and In The Mountain In The Cloud. But the real highlights were those out-of-nowhere covers — the most euphoric of which came during the band's finale, when they mashed their own “Sleep Forever” with the Beatles' “Hey Jude.”
At that point, some 15 people swayed back and forth with their arms around each other as they na-na-na-na-naaa-ed the night away.
It was a fitting end to a highly entertaining night.