“And to think,” said Portland’s Portugal. The Man via a massive screen behind them. “Just 13 short years ago, we were playing the Tonic Lounge.”
For over a decade, Portugal. The Man have been a staple of the Portland music community. Though they originally hail from Alaska, it’s hard to imagine a Portland without Portugal. The Man in it. Time and time again, they have used their platform to show love for this city, branding themselves the “Lords of Portland,” a title they have earned fully.
For years, the group took to smaller stages in the Portland area, with early performances at venues like Holocene and the now-defunct all-ages club Loveland in the early 2000s. By 2010, the band had upgraded to packed houses in larger venues like the Crystal Ballroom and Roseland Theater.
But Portugal. The Man weren’t planning on stopping their ascent. Albums like 2013’s Evil Friends and, most recently, their chart-topping hit “Feel It Still” propelled the band to superstar status… especially in the town that started it all.
They made their love and gratitude for the city clear last year with back-to-back sold-out nights at McMenamins Edgefield, some of the biggest shows the band has played here. But Monday night saw the band on an even bigger stage, and showing that they were nowhere near done.
On tour with Mumford & Sons, the Lords of Portland took to the Moda Center for a massive homecoming celebration. This was no ordinary opening set; for the crowd and the band themselves, this show could have easily been a double headline.
As the band took to the biggest stage in the City of Roses, full-on production and mind-melting rock force in tow, the pride radiating from the packed crowd was palpable. Fans screamed along to every word of the band’s set, danced along, and gave love to the band from wherever they stood. In return, the band did the same.
Donning Portland Trail Blazers jersey, Portugal. The Man’s set was a love letter to the city of Portland. Quotes from other hometown heroes (Chuck Palahniuk and Clyde Drexler, among others) shone bright out into the crowd on the screen behind them, along with shoutouts to Portland institutions (“I wonder what the line for Salt & Straw is like right now,” said one).
Closing out their set with their biggest, Grammy-winning number, the celebration went rave as the Blazer dancers, Blaze the Trail Cat, and Dillon the Pickle himself took to the stage with T-shirt canons and full-on Portland pride.
Though their set was short, clocking in at only eight songs, the love and celebratory energy packed into that half hour endured. This was no ordinary night for the band or the thousands of fans standing witness. This was a party, a marker of achievement. This was Portugal. The Man where they were always meant to play—their Pacific Northwest destiny. —Brendan Swogger