Is it wrong that the band I was most looking forward to seeing during the week of SXSW wasn’t playing SXSW at all? No, even with the thousands of bands playing that week in Austin, I was most looking forward to getting home, jumping in a car and driving to Cincinnati to see Portugal. The Man.
I foolishly missed Portugal. The Man’s show at Bonnaroo last year, only to get into the band a few months later and really regret missing them. So I knew the next time they came within a reasonable distance of my house, I had to make the trip. And man, was it ever worth it. Aside from being constantly slammed in the back of the head by the drunk bros who started a weak mosh pit (the downside to a good showing at Bonnaroo?), it was a fantastic show.
The strange thing about trying to remember PTM’s set is that I can’t really recall what they played with that much accuracy. I seem to remember being slightly let down when I realized they hadn’t played some of my favorite songs, but that feeling is so overshadowed by the excitement I felt when they played the half dozen or so songs that I love. So while I think they might not have played “Work All Day,” they did play “People Say” and “60 Years” and “When the War Ends” and… Well, you get the idea. It’s hard not to have a set loaded with great songs when you’re averaging a fantastic album released every 3/4 of a year.
As if seeing one of my new favorite bands play a show wasn’t great enough, Portugal. The Man played a few covers that seemed picked out of my iTunes most played list. About halfway through the set we got a cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” (which I drunkenly professed on my 21st birthday to be my favorite song — I see no reason to take it back) that lead into a cover of MGMT’s “Weekend War.” As soon as they made the switch, the lights dimmed and the lazer light show (above) kicked on. It was, in short, completely awesome.
The encore had two equally awesome covers as well. The first was Harry Nilsson’s “One,” which was so seamlessly integrated into the set that I almost didn’t notice they’d started playing it. The second was a joint effort between all three bands, Port O’Brien, the Dig and Portugal. The Man. To end the show, all the bands came back out and did a heartwarming take on the Kinks’ song “Strangers.”
More photos after the break