December 3rd, 2008
[It warrants a mention that I don't necessarily consider my posts here "reviews" or "critiques" so much; mostly I just write about shit that I like. If I don't like it--which happens frequently--you don't hear about it. I apologize if our four regulars find it annoying to always read the overtly "positive perspective". But here, today, I'm disappointed. Thus, you hear about it.]
So, something weird happened to me this past weekend. I was really excited for a show from a band whose latest album I’ve had on repeat the past few months. You might even say I love it. But since I’d only heard this most recent release, and hadn’t previously seen the band live, I figured the show would be mostly excellent and essentially emulate the record. THAT, my friends, was a stupid assumption.
On Censored Colors, Portland via Alaska progressive proprietors Portugal. The Man hop from one style to the next with ease. One minute they’re reeling from experimental-cum-classic guitars and perfect percussion, while the next sees the band soberly balladeering the touching subjects of life and death. Reggae and jazz influences are utilized but not exploited, acoustic folk is affecting without being cliché, lyrics are heartfelt without being tacky, and heavy metal is a force rather than a farce.
Unfortunately, amid a ridiculous amount of smoke and a flock of all-agers, the band chucked all that out the window and decided to morph every song into an exasperatingly bombastic prog-rock explosion with overt reggae jam sessions and type-cast, over-abused drumming. What the hell? Where was the restraint? Where was the charm? Where was the diversity? But mostly, where was the band that recorded Censored Colors? I’m no dummy: half the fun of live shows is experiencing the differences from a band’s recordings. But this was just lame. This was exhausting. This was disappointing.
I suppose I enjoyed a few of the songs off Colors that they managed to play (older songs made up at least half of the set list), but mostly I was just waiting for the show to end. I kinda felt like I was invited over to my best buddy’s house for an awesome, massive party, and when I got there all that was going on was him wrestling his dogs for a scant audience of elderly people in a tiny living room sprayed with empty cans of Red Bull. Hardly what I was expecting.