Concert Reviews

Portugal. The Man's "Secret," Instantly Sold-Out Show at Larimer Lounge

As the old saying goes, "Any show that starts with a giant singalong to Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2' is going to be a good show." Okay, that's not actually a saying, but it probably should be after Portugal. The Man began its Larimer Lounge show with it.

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Views on Portugal. The Man as a band aside, this secret show -- secret here meaning quickly spread across social media and almost instantly sold out -- was everything a concertgoer hopes a show will be every time they walk into a venue.

The crowd, packed into the tiny and sweltering space, was enthusiastic to say the least, cheering, dancing, and singing along to every song. There were lasers and lights that surpassed anyone who wasn't new to the Larimer Lounge's expectations. There was an interlude featuring a cover of "Dayman" (yes, that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia "Dayman"), audience members on stage doing shots, an Oasis cover that thankfully wasn't "Wonderwall," and the most impressive music the old little space on Larimer street had probably heard in a long time.

Portugal. The Man specializes in psychedelic-influenced indie rock, but as the band members displayed, to them psychedelic really just means adding a jam-band experimental flair to an expansive and ever-changing sound. They played long ballads about war, intimate musings on suicide, and Ty Segall-esque noisy bursts on breaking up with a horrible partner, all while playing their instruments masterfully, adding in thoughtful electronic harmonies, and somehow making every line sound melodic and significant.

This is a band that deserves to play Red Rocks. They have the sound and stage presence to blow those beautiful old rocks away. And while their lights and guitar notes will certainly sound wonderful as they make their way to the stars tonight, in the tight space of the Larimer Lounge, Portugal. The Man's music burst at the seams. It's not a venue made to hold that much sound and it felt like at any moment the mics would go out or an amp would blow under the weight of the band's creations.

It's that pressure and energy, formed from a devoted audience, a band truly excited (and quite inebriated) and a space that feels simultaneously unusual and perfect that make secret shows what they are. They are an event that cannot be repeated. Maybe it's the excitement of getting to be one of the few hundred that scored tickets in the few hours they were available. Maybe it's getting to see the ceiling of the Larimer lounge light up with red, yellow, blue and silver lasers. Maybe it's that the band is playing loose, and therefore playing with a certain feeling and soul that is often overshadowed by monotony and routine. Or maybe it is all of those things combined plus everyone's awareness that the present moment at a show is something to really pay attention to. No matter the hidden factor, the sum of the various parts still equaled an incredibly special show. Not just because it was a small, secret show, but because Portugal. The Man is truly a great band with great fans and knows how to put on a show that deserves to be able to sell out a quickly announced show at the Larimer Lounge and then receive the honor of getting to play on the stage at Red Rocks.

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Isa Jones is an editor in Jackson Hole; her writing has appeared all over the Internet and occasionally in print.
Contact: Isa Jones