Saturday night was a true evening of rock 'n' roll at Governors Island. As part of Converse's "Gone to Governors" concert series, Portugal. The Man
headlined an outdoor show at a kind of weird location that was strangely ideal for a summer show. The ferry ride to the island is part of the concertgoing experience, a few minutes of relief from the city's blistering heat with the river serving as a portal between the skyscrapers of wall street and the quiet cleanliness of Governors Island. Most of the island looks like a deserted college campus, with grassy hills and dark imposing buildings, but on one side right on the water a stage looks over a "beach," really the world's biggest sandbox. Given an air of authenticity by multi-color palm trees with LED leaves, the beach is strewn with sandy youth, and makes this one of the few places in New York where you'd feel comfortable going barefoot at a rock show.
As openers Hopewell
started their set people began to wander forward from the beach to the blacktop, drawn by the band's tom-tom driven energy. The lead singer threw his whole body into the music, shredding hard on guitar and jumping around the stage with his tambourine, while the electric violinist remained entirely expressionless behind her shades. They definitely impressed the crowd with their intensity, getting even the most heat-stricken members of the audience to nod along during slow-rolling "Boat Ride Over The Mountain."
The sun had set by the time Alberta Cross
got to the stage, bringing a lot of hair and some good tunes. The audience, who had returned to beach mentality, was immediately re-energized when they began. Another solid rock set, their show was also led by an active, passionate frontman making use of the tambourine, this time lent an air of mystery by a completely face-obscuring fedora. Their sound had some similarities to that of Hopewell, but with less psychedelia and more garage-rock.
The audience was well-prepped when Portugal. The Man
came on around 10, starting off their set with "My Mind," an older track. The show was pretty true to recordings, but across the board a few notches more rock 'n' roll. The songs that are usually loud and fast stayed pretty much the same but with more intensity and a somehow fuller sound, while the tracks that are usually laid back and acoustic sounding, like "People Say," got some heavier drums and more intense vocals. Lead singer John Baldwin Gourley ranges from gentle falsetto crooning to really belting it out, and while he kept the crooning he amped it up to fit it into a set that leaned on the band's more psychedelic side and emphasized their more electric, more rock sensibilities. The original mood of the songs was preserved aside from this boost in energy and the welcome inclusion of some more drawn-out jams. The band closed with an encore of Created, 1989, and Our Way, leaving a crowd so satisfied that the grumbling about waiting for ferries home was kept to a dull roar. -selden paterson
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Pictures: Portugal. The Man at Governor's Island
Pictures: Alberta Cross at Governor's Island
MP3: "The Dead Dog"
Portugal. The Man on Myspace