Yes, Virginia, They Do Speak Portuguese in Alaska

Okay, so perhaps that title is a bit incorrect. But maybe not. You see while Portugal. The Man “originated” from and are currently based in Portland, Oregon, the two founding members grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. If that name sounds familiar, it is because it was the childhood home of one-time Wasilla mayor, 2008 Vice-presidential candidate, fox news bimbo, and the quitting, “rogue” governor, Sarah Palin. Yes, that same Sarah Palin. Good to know that great music can also come from a northern town of 7,000 people that was once had less empty space than the woman who ran it. But I digress. Back to the music.

I suppose their style would be chillwave mixed with psychedelia, progressive rock, with a pinch of electronica and hardcore whatever. It makes for a pretty eclectic mix of sounds. John Gourley’s vocals remind me a fair bit of the XX‘s Romy Croft, yet not as designed. Their drummer – Kane Richotte – looks like a musical genius of 12 years old (although he is still a youthful 21). Both co-founder Zach Carothers and keyboardist Nosh Gersh, are excellent harmonizers who aren’t afraid to change up their sound.

It is hard to believe that in eight years they have released albums – six full-length CDs, and three EPs. That stat is even more remarkable when you consider that John and Zach have been the only two solid members throughout their history. The current lineup includes three additional musicians – Keyboardist and synthesizer master Kyle O’Quin, guitarist and and percussion player Noah Gersh, and drummer Kane Richotte. At first glance Richotte looks about 12 years old (He is actually 21). They have also been joined in the past by musician and artist Zoe Manville, among others.

The strangest thing about the show for me were the fans. While most were appropriate, they were a few who bordered on douchebag, including one man who, according to my friend Nashlyn, “thought he was at Nirvana”. It was a very scene to see people moshing and head banging and acting as if they were at Cannibal Corpse or Motorhead. This being Vancouver, there was also a lot of ganja. But I’ve come to expect that. especially at the Commodore. Besides the aforementioned anomalies, it was a great show. As the night wore on, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the crowd; partly to stay with my friends, partly to observe the audience and in part to see the music. I’m always debating whether i should hang back and be the “objective reviewer” or whether i should join in the fun and fully integrate myself into the concert experience. Lately, it’s been more of the latter. But I think both have their merits.

Portgual. The Man’s sound is simple yet layered. It is refined, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. I still don’t know whether or not they’ve ever been to Portugal.

Portugal. The Man’s 8th album – Evil Friends – was released June 4, 2013 on Atlantic Records.

RIYL: Metric, Jessie Ware, The Verve. Gold & Youth


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