Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
Photo by Emily Dyan Ibarra
The anticipation level inside the 20th Century Theater seemed to be reaching a peak on Sunday, March 21 even before the Alaskan blues/rock unit Portugal.The Man took the stage. “What’s the best thing about Cincinnati?” someone asked, hoping to get a rise from the packed audience. “Portugal. The Man!” an individual shouted at the top of his lungs. And so it went, until Alaska’s favorite sons opened the evening with a bludgeoning wall of epic feedback and distortion, wowing the mulling denizens on the tightly entrenched floor. Launching into “Mornings” from 2009’s epic disc, The Satanic Satanist, John Baldwin Gourley shredded with unerring intensity on lead electric guitar, meshing his high pitched falsetto with keyboardist Ryan Neighbors’ classically tinged backing lines. Jason Sechrist’s enormous drum kit was elevated above the stage for the concert, and his unique, bashing style shook the foundations of the aging movie house. Delving into material from the 2010 release, American Ghetto, Gourley and co. stood with their backs to the audience as the building crescendo of vibration enveloped the inside of the 20th Century like a tidal wave. Soon, the scene on the floor was close to chaos as several patrons crowd surfed, and security had to be called in to restore a sense of safety to the proceedings. Playing “People Say” from The Satanic Satanist, bassist Zachary Scott Carothers’ rumbling underpinnings controlled the inner urban rhythms emanating from the stage. Even the group was a bit shocked by the energized support from Cincinnati on a Sunday night. It was a bold statement that the members of Portugal. The Man will not soon forget. And, those that took the chance to check them out will always remember the fateful Sunday night near the end of March 2010 when an alternative Alaskan music entity took hold of everyone’s imagination inside the 20th Century Theater courtesy of rock pioneers Portugal. The Man.