Straight from their sunset Coachella performance, Portugal. The Man brought the festival atmosphere without the dusty desert air and notorious outfits to the Santa Barbara Bowl last Saturday, alongside soul-influenced performers, Chicano Batman.
Strutting along the stage, clad in tuxedos and Vans Old Skools, Chicano Batman’s guitar riffs rippled throughout the crowd. A liberating sensibility dared the general admission floor to dance as if they were at Coachella, moving in free-form along to the groove. Dripping in the highest tuxedo fashion, Chicano Batman prove their eclectic authenticity by tapping into the golden era of soul music and the emotional ballads symbolic of Spanish music.
The group have already carved a name for themselves as must-see festival stunners with their 2017 Tropicalia performance and through gracing the Coachella stage multiple times. The Los Angeles four-piece played whimsical songs such as “Black Lipstick” and “Magma,” which both channel elements of 50s blues percussion. When the band seamlessly transitioned into “Freedom is Free,” the crowd waved their hands and twirled around to the rhythm as if they were Penny Lane in “Almost Famous.”
Despite Chicano Batman bringing their immersive, delightful tunes to the SB Bowl, they also brought political and social problems to the foreground with their enlightening lyrics. They proved through performances of their Spanish ballad, “Flecha Al Sol,” that they are a group of refined composers, much like J-Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest, which have etched the band’s inspirations.
Portugal. The Man brought the stage alight with energy and the occasional guitar solo that induced a momentarily stunned sensation among the crowd. Despite their lack of interaction with the crowd, the screen depicting everything from colorful animations of faces to odes to Portland behind the band forewarned the audience that “We are not very good at stage banter, so our manager wrote some stuff on the screen to make up for it.”
The Portland-based band’s tinge of sarcastic humor and honesty was also apparent when they projected the subtitles, “If you’re here for ODESZA, you’re early,” on the screen of their Sunday afternoon Coachella set. Most of the festival crowd happens to not be interested in the lengths of synth rock music, yet the band rocked out the eager Santa Barbara Bowl crowd with groovy explorations of their latest project.
The riveting performance of “Keep On” raptured the crowd, as the dosage of rock intermingled with the rotating neon lights that were either bound to cause a mild optical migraine or lead the audience into a psychedelic trip.
The tight-knit band seems to have a compatible link with each other where they communicate by mere instrumentals. Guitarist Eric Howk, fueled the band’s primary power riffs all the while he was in his wheelchair. Meanwhile, John Gourley is zoned in a trance of giving the crowd a variety of vocal changes, and Jason Sechrist provides the tempo changes through his fluid drum changes. Kyle O’Quin heavily focuses on the synthesizers as if they are a lifeline, Zoe Manville offered her delicate falsetto to illuminate hard-hitting tracks and bassist Zach Carothers emphasized the vein of rock running through the band’s catalog.
Summer of 2017 marked Portugal. The Man’s release of the intoxicating medley of soul, rock and analog-electronic sounds, Woodstock. The band’s instant hit “Feel It Still” had not only landed its way onto Apple commercials, and found a temporary home at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 40, but it also won them the title of a Grammy-award winning Group Performance. The band melds their hip-hop influences on tracks like “So Young” that are reminiscent of the production found on legendary Quasimoto and MF DOOM albums.
Portugal. The Man has mastered a way to interpolate montages of sounds that have impacted how the band crafts their instrumentation. The charge to their way at the top of the charts is credited to the band’s ability to use a Frank Ocean method of limiting the release of their music for four years in order to get the closest they can to a perfect album. The album is attested to effectively collaborating with the industry’s top producers to create hits that submerge audiences into a world that touches everywhere from neoclassical soul to rap rhythms.
As the concert hit the one hour mark, Portugal. The Man incentivized the crowd to stand up and scream the lyrics to the band’s well-known hit, “Feel It Still,” a song that has both meandered its way onto Apple and Vitamin Commercials and beat out the infamous Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber collaboration “Despacito” at the Grammys.
The band set their instruments aside and looked longingly to the packed crowd, teasing the crowd into believing that they were just about to end their set. The crowd ruptured in applause with the loudest shrieks coming from drunk 40-year-old men dressed in the go-to Portland hipster attire. Portugal. The Man answered the crowd’s demands by playing the genre-bending “Noise Pollution” and the anthemic “Hip Hop Kids” that combined the psychedelic visuals playing on the screen and the thundering drums.
Chicano Batman escalated the excitement for the night, as their groovy-surf blend went hand-in-hand with gazing at SB Bowl’s hilltop view of the ocean. Meanwhile, Portugal. The Man brought their ability to alleviate temporary stress by illuminating the stage with gritty guitar solos and lively strobe lights straight from an 80s flick.