Portugal. The Man Brings the Heat to Roadrunner

Photography by Raelyn Brummitt

By Annie Sarlin, Staff Writer

Artist: Portugal, The Man

Venue: Roadrunner

When: Thursday, February 22nd



Even in the freezing cold, the line of fans anticipating Portugal. The Man’s show stretched across the sidewalk in front of Roadrunner on February 22nd. A statue of the band’s cartoon mascot, Tank Dog, sat against the drum kit and grinned at the audience as they eventually filed in. The character’s expression matched the palpable excitement in the club. 

I always love shows where the band has such universal appeal that people of all ages attend, and this show was the perfect example of that. Standing in front of me at the show were both young children dancing and adult men with their arms around each other singing along. 



Having no prior knowledge of the opening act going into the show, I was shocked when I saw musicians enter the stage with saxophones, a trombone and a sousaphone, all in matching green jerseys. The last thing I expected was for what looked like a jazz ensemble to perform with an indie band. 

Philadelphia-based band SNACKTIME ended up being one of the greatest opening acts I have ever seen. The best way to describe their unique sound would be some combination of Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Usher and TLC. This distinctive blend of funk, jazz, R&B and rap was energetic and fun, hyping up the crowd for the rest of the show. 

The band’s frontman, Yesseh Furaha-Ali, skillfully interacted with the crowd. He engaged us in call and response, got us to jump, sing, and — of course — dance. Throughout his performance, Furaha-Ali also showed incredible versatility as he sang, rapped, played the saxophone and banged a tambourine all over the course of their set. 

Furaha-Ali shared that this show was extra special to him because he attended school in the city, at Berklee College of Music. Through this performance, he certainly made his second home proud.

SNACKTIMES’s set was finished all too soon, so I was thrilled when they came back onstage to accompany Portugal. The Man later on in the show. 



With the addition of the SNACKTIME members, the stage was full of many talented musicians during Portugal. The Man’s set. They created such a powerful sound that I felt like I was standing right in front of the speakers instead of far above them in the balcony. 

Even with all of these musicians, the mix was done well enough that the audience could hear every part, each amazing in its own right. Their performance was so clean there were times that, if not for the screaming crowd, it could have been mistaken for a pre-recorded track. 

With up to four vocalists together at once, all of the singers impressively stayed in sync and managed to blend their voices beautifully. A particular highlight of their performance was the powerful falsetto of guitarist and singer Josh Gourley, who hit impressive high notes in “Feel It Still” and several other songs. 

Another stand-out performance was from Eric Howk, who performed several amazing solos on a double-neck guitar. As a bassist, there is nothing more impressive to me than working with that many strings so close together, a task he managed with ease. 

The band also incorporated several interesting visuals into the show, including projections that featured images of everything from an exploding volcano, to peaceful scenes of nature, and even images of cartoons like Lisa Simpson and the Care Bears. These psychedelic visuals combined with the booming sound to create an electrifying performance. 




As if their incredible musicianship was not enough, the band’s actions throughout the concert made you appreciate them as people as well as artists. 

Even in the large venue, the band made their remarks to the vast audience seem like an intimate conversation. The musicians thanked the audience numerous times and did not shy away from making jokes about messing up.

One of the best aspects of this show was the band's clear appreciation for both their fans and the city. In what seemed almost spontaneous, they added two songs to their set that they had made in Boston to pay tribute to a place they loved. This touch made the show feel very personal. 



In addition to expressing the meaning of the crowd and the city to them, the band did something I had never seen before, which was to acknowledge that the ground of the venue they stood on is stolen land. 

To recognize and respect the indigenous people the land originally belonged to, Portugal. The Man brought out members of the North American Indian Center of Boston, who gave a beautiful vocal performance.

The band also encouraged the audience to donate to the charity Frances Changed My Life for a chance to win a signed setlist. Band members Gourley and Zoe Manville started the organization to raise money for research into treatments for children with rare diseases, inspired by their daughter Frances who has a one in a billion genetic disease called DHDDS. 

Fans who attended Portugal. The Man’s concert Thursday night were treated to a mesmerizing performance of people who are both incredible musicians and individuals. It was truly a privilege to be a part of it.

Uncommon Newsletter

Music reviews, ticket giveaways, live performances & member specials.

Sign Up

We'll never sell your email, be boring or try to sell you on bad music.

in studio performances