For Portugal. The Man, it’s best not to come into any show with expectations.
This is a band that puts out a new album once a year and changes just a little bit with each one.
With last year’s In the Mountain In the Cloud, there was a poppy flavor to the record that notched a radio hit with “So American.”
But the band’s live set was nothing of the ilk.
Yes, they did play “So American” Saturday at San Francisco’s Outside Lands to the delight of a very eager crowd, but the rest of their set on the Lands End stage had a hard edge to it.
A cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” preceded “So American,” and offered a searing contrast to Portugal. The Man’s sweet single.
“Helter Skelter” began with a hypnotic pounding on a tom-tom to get into a groove that dirtily devolved into the frantic tune.
They also played a grooved-out version of “The Sun” from 2009’s The Satanic Satanist before breaking into a particularly fuzzed-out “Senseless” off In the Mountain.
The band also teased a few lines from Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” during the second half of their set.
But the highlight of the evening might have been Portugal. The Man’s finale, an extended version of “Bellies Are Full” from their 2007 record, Church Mouth.
That one closed with an epic breakdown that was noisy and beautiful at the same time.
Portugal. The Man singer John Baldwin Gourley has a falsetto that would typically call to mind a lullaby, but he certainly knows how to use it to compliment swampy, bayou-sounding jams when the time calls for it.