Monday, June 8, 2009

Portugal. The Man Makes Me a Fanboy

I am but a man.
What a proud, proud man.
What a proud, proud man.

I went to Madison with a cohort of two of my closest people this last Saturday night to visit my friends in the band, Portugal. The Man. I use the term "friends" sort of loosely in an Andrew W.K. friends-not-fans sort of way. They sold out a tiny bar on Mifflin Street (one of the endlessly confusing one-way streets in Madison) called Cafe Montmartre or, for the tongue-heavy, Cafe Momo. The place was packed. So packed in fact, that when we showed up a half-hour late due to aforementioned one-ways and a hang-up in the parking lot, we were hardly able to make it in the door even with our will-called tickets.
I stepped 4 feet inside the Cafe Momo and was stopped by a wall of bodies pulsating on the entry ramp. I turned to my right, and couldn't see the singer/guitarist of the band, John Gourley, in his usual facing-the-side of the stage position with a hood or hat pulled down low because the newest member of Portugal. The Man (Zoe Manville)was aptly shaking a tambourine in front of my face. That's right. This band uses the tambourine, and they do it well. Every time.

What a proud friend they've made me. Since the days of Church Mouth, their 2007 release, I've been itching and waiting for this band to make it happen. And I think it has. I'm officially a fanboy who has melted into the sea of heads that sell out the show and sing their vocal chords to shreds with episodes of thrash in between grandiose hand gestures while others content to find a spot with good sonic balance succumb to what I have come to call the acid sway. There is not a soul standing still at this concert. Not ever.

But they've always been good live. This is the 5th show over a course of 3 years that I've had the pleasure to see. They are even more relentless than ever with their touring, including European getaways and festivals left and right. But, like I said, they've always been good live. I mean their extended jams invite, nay, demand a fresh audience every night.

No one who really likes Weezer, Nirvana, or Sublime tribute bands is going to like this. If you saw Paramore and thought they were really great, you probably won't like this band. The songs never sound the same on stage, and sometimes the sounds change with a violent jolt that knocks you off-balance for a bit. But it's always a hell of a ride with the extended riff-heavy jams and seamless splices of "One is the Loneliest Number"in the middle of their original songs.

But they've always been good live. What really makes my fanboy juices flow is the new album coming out on July 21st entitled The Satanic Satanist. The cover art is absolutely astonishing with complicated fold-outs that create a layered landscape over a CD that becomes part of the artwork as it is inserted.
The vinyl, unfortunately, will not be so decked out, or perhaps more unfortunately, except for in Germany. That means me and my fellow fanboys are going to have one bitch of a time getting our hands on what has to be described as, at least, a great piece of music. John Gourley, the lead man, actually invited my buddy to the van after the performance to let him feast his senses on the only copy of The Satanic Satanist to be printed as of now. I can nearly guarantee that my friend has yet to wash his hands. The band has always been great about talking with fans outside after the shows. I think it's partly just to air-dry their sweat-drenched clothes and have an excuse to not help the roadies load up. I can't blame them, though, as their set looked even more tiring than ever. But they've always been good live.


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