. : : October 30th, 2013 : : .
When Portugal. The Man performed at Austin City Limits in 2013, they were still three and a half years away from their breakout single, Feel It Still. By this time, I’d already seen the band perform a few times and if you told me that by 2018 the band would be nominated (and win!) a Grammy Award for Best Pop Group Performance, I wouldn’t believe you.
That’s not to speak on their talent or their worthiness of such prestige — On the contrary, I thought they were fantastic! But they were heavy, and psychedelic, and more than a bit avaunt-guard. Their debut album, Waiter: “You Vultures!” featured the song AKA M80 The Wolf, one of my favourite rock songs of the decade. Their follow up disc, Church Mouth, was experimental, bluesy, and challenging.
Their third album, Censored Colors, is when a pop-sensibility seemed to start to sneak in. But to the extent that they’d be Grammy-worthy? Seemed highly unlikely.
At that point, they were releasing new albums’ worth of material annually and continued to do so for their first six discs(!). It wasn’t until the Danger Mouse-produced Evil Friends, released in 2013 and the album being promoted on this ACL performance, that the band began taking time between album cycles.
Was this the band participating in a more conventional album cycle? Was it interference on behalf of their new label, Atlantic Records, fearing over-exposure? Eh. It would be speculation to hazard a guess, but needless to say — it worked out for them in a big way.
Their latest album, Woodstock, peaked in top 3 on the US Top Alternative and US Top Rock charts, and the lead single mentioned above, Feel It Still, hit number 1 on US Adult Alternative, Alternative Airplay, Adult Top 40, Rock Airplay, Hot Rock and Alternative Songs, and US Mainstream Top 40 Billboard charts. The single also hit number 1 on 5 international charts, and went 5x platinum in the US.
With numbers like that, it’s no wonder the Grammy committee took notice.
That being said, I’m guessing the band now has a few million fans who’ve joined the bandwagon since this recording (and my previous recording) that might get a kick of hearing what the band sounded like in 2013.
Like most televised Austin City Limits performances, the set was chopped up and put back together out of order and missing several tunes, but the sound quality is second-to-none.
Casual fans looking for more along the vein of Feel It Still may be disappointed; this was a transitional period for the band, and they were still years away from becoming the band that dominated the airwaves. However, there’s some great material and performances captured here that patient and curious fans are likely to find rewarding.
- Evil Friends
- So America
- Senseless [abandoned]
- The Sun
- Modern Jesus
- Another Brick in the Wall pt.II [Pink Floyd]
> Purple Yellow Red and Blue