Portugal the Man + Broken Social @ Budweiser Stage

The summer concert season has officially been kicked off as Budweiser Stage has now opened its gates for the next few months. The honours of 2018’s inaugural show go to a pair of eclectic alternative rock groups – Portugal. The Man and Broken Social Scene.

Alaska’s biggest musical export ever graced the stage first with psych-pop crew Portugal. The Man once again bringing their weird and witty show to Toronto.

John Gourley and company are men of few words; they prefer to let their music do the talking rather than engage in typical stage banter. They’re far from dour though, showing off their clever sense of humor by using captions on the screen behind them. They entered to the words, “We’re not good at stage banter, so our management wrote these messages for us.”

More tongue-in-cheek jokes followed, with messages like, “We are Portugal. The Man. Just making sure you’re at the right show,” and “That’s right kids only live instruments, no computers up here,” popping up throughout the set. These captions were interspersed with a lot of psychedelic, and occasionally bizarre animated visuals that added a surreal vibe to the concert.

This was the band’s third time in the city within this past year, the first being their set at Field Trip last June, followed by a stint at the Danforth Music Hall later that summer. Their new album Woodstock has absolutely blown up since then however, so a return visit was necessary. The now-classic thunderous “Live in the Moment” has cemented itself as a radio staple over the past year, as has one of 2017’s biggest singles period: the inescapable funk-pop hit “Feel it Still”. After toiling away for over a decade the band has gained well-deserved mainstream notoriety thanks to the song.

The band loves their covers too; buried in between their original songs were many bits and pieces of other bands’ songs, including Metallica‘s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and Pink Floyd‘s “Another Brick in the Wall”.

After striking gold with their eighth album, it’s clear that Portugal. The Man have big ambitions to be as iconic as the legends they cover. Judging by their live show, they’re very much on the right track.

Shambolic Canuck supergroup, Broken Social Scene, finished off the night in appropriately grand fashion; a big band needs a big stage. Touring behind their comeback album, Hug of Thunder, they’d like to remind people that big is the only way they do things. Not only did they start their set with two huge singles (“Cause=Time” and “7/4 Shoreline”), but they concluded the latter with a veritable army of brass instruments playing the catchy hook.

There were about a dozen people on stage at any given time, helping bring classics like “Stars and Sons” and “KC Accidental” to life, along with new songs like “Hug of Thunder” and “Halfway Home”. It was very much an epic end to the first night of 2018’s summer concert season.

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