Portugal. The Man at The Independent, by Estefany Gonzalez

Portugal. The Man (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)

After playing main stage slots at major festivals such as Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza, it’s surprising to see a band with so much traction choose to book a show at an intimate venue. The truth is that the bigger the fan base, the harder it is to see a band play smaller venues that might leave some fans out. Portugal. The Man proved, however, that it’s not necessary to choose when the band played for a packed house at The Independent on Monday, March 13 and booked a show at Berkeley’s own Greek Theatre later this year.

Needless to say, this close-knit show let Bay Area fans see the band up close in comparison to the 8,500 capacity arena they’ll play when they return to the Bay. Of course, this wasn’t the first time the band graced the stage of The Independent. In fact, bass player Zachary Carothers told the crowd the reason behind an intimate show was the warm welcome the group always receives at this venue (minus the first time, which he joked no one showed up to).

Portugal. The Man at The Independent, by Estefany Gonzalez

The band spoke a few times during the set and kicked off with groovy melodic tunes that had the crowd dancing from the get-go. It was the little moments like that made the night feel so much more personal.

The beauty of The Independent is that no matter which part of the room you stand in, the musicians are usually within perfect view. The close quarters might have you knocking elbows with other attendees, but this seemed like a perfect fit for dance tunes like the band’s new single “Feel It Still.” When singer John Gourley sang “I been feeling it since 1966, now might be over now, but I feel it still,” to a sea of dancing concertgoers with their hands in the air, it felt at though the audience got to go back in time and experience a performance from the band’s earlier days despite the new material. From close up, you could see the band’s light projector reflect against the members’ skin and sweat drip from their faces.

Portugal. The Man at The Independent, by Estefany Gonzalez

Of course, the band played a variety of songs from the group’s large catalogue of songs. “Chicago,” off the 2006 album Waiter: “You Vultures!”,  had the crowd bouncing around in time to the gritty punk rock sounding intro.  Other fan favorites included “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and “Creep In A T-shirt,” off Evil Friends, which most of the audience danced and chanted the words to.

Another nice touch was how easy it was to interact with the band after the show. Once the set was over, you could spot band members chatting with fans outside of the venue and posing for pictures, moments that are hard to come by at arenas and festivals.