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Review: Portugal. The Man, Grouplove take Columbus stage for psychedelic show

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The threatening skies couldn’t keep the hipsters away from Lifestyle Communities Pavilion on Wednesday to celebrate the outdoor performances of co-headliners Portugal. The Man and Grouplove.

I had never heard Portugal. The Man play a single note before last night. I had no idea what type of music they played, what they looked like or even if they had a strong following. It didn’t take long to clear up my uncertainties, though. The group emerged from a thick cloud of fog and assumed their positions. The fans who weren’t lighting up were going berserk. The lead vocalist, John Gourley, looked very cool in a hooded black windbreaker (which he wore up), flat-bill hat, dark circular shades and a mustache. His white guitar was peppered with what looked like artwork and stickers. The band’s bassist and other singer, Zachary Carothers, was wearing a plain T-shirt and a flat bill.

They began their performance with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” in front of a large screen displaying lots of psychedelic images. “Purple, Yellow, Red & Blue” was followed by “Waves” which seemed to be a crowd-pleaser.

The pit was a sweaty sphere of marijuana smoke and Portugal. The Man enthusiasts. Although the lead singer didn’t have much of a stage presence, I could see what all the hype was about. They had a pretty cool, pretty different sound with Gourley’s surprisingly feminine falsetto, and the rock/electric instrumental accompaniment.

Then, Portugal. The Man did something no band I’ve ever seen has done before: they did a cover of “Night Man” from the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Very well played. The cover mashed right into “So American,” and after raising their red Solo cups that they were sipping out of all night to being back in Columbus, the band left the stage.

After blinking a few times to regain vision from the very epilepsy-triggering lights show, I noticed people were beginning to clear out. I must be living under a rock because, according to a grad student from the Bowling Green area who happened to be next to me in the crowd, he and most of the people he knew at the show were there for Portugal. The Man.

Grouplove entered the LC outdoor stage to “Wild for the Night” by ASAP ROCKY. Singer Hannah Hooper was rocking a black lace jumpsuit and a bleach blonde, grown-out undercut while front man, Christian Zucconi sported a strangely large T-shirt that resembled a nightgown under a black petticoat.

They started out with “I’m With You” which is the first track on their second album, “Spreading Rumours.”

“It’s so f—— great to be back in Columbus!” Hooper shouted to the crowd. She is a monster on stage with more personality than most artists I’ve seen. Since I was so close, I was able to see just how animated she is when she is performing. Every excruciating expression, every spontaneous dance move, every hug she gave her bandmates let me know just how encapsulated in the music she is.

Hooper was born for the limelight.

Zucconi definitely has his own sound. If you’re familiar with Grouplove, you know what I mean when I describe his voice as frack-y. If not, imagine a 13-year-old boy with the most beautiful singing voice. It could be how rapidly he slides from his throat voice to his head voice; either way, it works.

“Lovely Cup” is a very fun song, especially last night when the band incorporated spectators so much.

Hooper grabbed the mic as a guitar strummed a taunting chord in the background.

“Have you guys ever been to the ocean, and you’re swimming, and you feel something brush your leg? Then you feel it again, and you hear the lifeguards blow their whistles and you think — SHARK ATTACK!!!”

“Shark Attack” is one of the band’s more noteable songs. Its extremely catchy chorus definitely helped it gain its spot on my list of favorite songs. I played it on repeat all summer. “Yeah, I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster, what? / Yeah, I’d rather be grooving than grinding up,” is a lyric from “Hippy Hill” which was next. In the middle of the number, some girl shorter than me grabbed my arm and pulled me up to the front row.

Grouplove then took a moment to describe how family-like the people on and off stage are. A member of the crew is moving on and since Wednesday was his last show, Grouplove played his favorite song by the band, “Don’t Say Oh Well,” exchanged some hugs and took a shot of Patron together.

Kudos to them for not only having great stage chemistry, but also a great relationship offstage.

Another popular song, “Tongue Tied,” was up next. Very cool song, even cooler live.

“I’ve been drinking,” Zucconi sang into his mic and that was all it took to get the crowd really riled up.

They proceeded to do Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Drunk in Love.” Hooper is no Beyoncé but she gave the queen a run for her money during the legendary “surfboardt” rap in the song.

The night was winding down but Grouplove was just bringing out the big guns.

“Slow” isn’t necessarily one of the band’s more popular songs, but the rendition of it last night made it impossible to overlook. The bass, strobes, drums, vocals and fog were turned all the way up for this one. Drummer Ryan Rabin brought a single drum to center stage and he and Hooper danced around it while playing it with glowing drumsticks.

“Ways to Go” was next, followed by “Colours” during which only white lights were used until they went out and returned, illuminating the performers with every color imaginable.

“We f—— love Columbus,” Hooper yelled before leaving the stage with the rest of her bandmates.

The band returned to the stage for an encore with Portugal. The Man minus the leading man, Gourley. The artists collaborated to do a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”

There wasn’t a soul in the venue not on their feet. Very fun night, I can’t wait until they’re back again.

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