Portugal. The Man at the Slowdown


Jeff Turner

It was a cold and dreary night at the Slowdown this past Tuesday. The Slowdown is easily one of the best venues in Omaha, with a huge pit so people can get up and close, and a balcony for people to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the band, and the reverb when the music is going is unreal.

Plenty of amenities are offered. There’s a pool table, a bar and Galaga (why anyone would pay twenty-seven dollars to go see a band only to go and play Galaga is mystifying but it’s sweet of them to offer). The place was packed to the brim, and it was a trial to maneuver through the crowd. A DJ opened playing remixes of various popular songs. He was good at it, got the energy going and built up the rest of the show.

The opener could have been the headliner. HDBeenDope is a rapper from Brooklyn, who despite having gotten an album produced, can’t seem to break five figures in YouTube views. This is ludicrous. This guy was fantastic at playing to the crowd, and his music was catchy. His sound was as though hip-hop were mixed with a form of thrash, it was an experience. With a fluid flow, and clever rhyming, this guy could be mentioned in the same sentence as some bigger acts like Danny Brown and Childish Gambino. His performance was a demonstration of some of the minds that never break through into the mainstream.

The primary act didn’t disappoint either. Portugal. The Man is an indie rock and psychedelic group who have been mentioned in the same group with acts such as The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant. They didn’t stick to tracks off of their current album, “Woodstock,” they jumped around their entire discography, usually with notifications signifying as much.

Their music videos often play like experimental films, with various images often appearing disconnected and seemingly meaningless. It is akin to a dream, and yet their sound is accessible and ‘pop’-y enough for the average listener to not get too frustrated. They will often play with harder rock, transitioning back to synth, and then into a more surreal sound.

In the hands of less apt musicians, Portugal. The Man’s constant sound transitions would sound unfocused and they would lose people, but members John Gourley, Kyle O’Quin and Zachary Carothers hold the listeners hand and guide them through.

Clear and concise stories guide the music. For example, “Woodstock,” the title track off their most recent album follows a person mourning the loss of their youth and how boring everything is for them now. People get bored with the same, but get to a point where they’re too old to do anything about it-the price of life. The speaker wants to know if this is truly “it,” if this will be all their life will amount to, another boring soul following the same patterns as all those before.

“Woodstock,” as well as all of Portugal. The Man’s discography can be bought online.