There aren't many bands who, in their 14th year of existence, can claim to have had the year Portugal the Man is currently experiencing.
The veteran Portland-via-Alaska alt-rock act scored one of the biggest outta-nowhere hits of 2017 with the retro-minded soul-rock twister "Feel It Still." It won them a Grammy, for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and propelled them to the main stage of Coachella, playing right before headliner Eminem.
Last night, the band kept that momentum going at a gig in Asbury Park, New Jersey—only now, the big-name icons are opening for them.
Portugal the Man played the reopening of Asbury Lanes, a hybrid 700-capacity music venue and bowling alley. Of course, whenever anything happens in Asbury Park, the chances of Bruce Springsteen showing up and jamming a few tunes are always about even. In this case, it wasn't exactly a surprise—he'd been advertised ahead of time. But no one was sure what form his appearance would take.
According to a report by Rolling Stone, Springsteen ended up retreating to his bar band roots and taking the stage with New York's Tangiers Blues Band, a group featuring rock photographer Danny Clinch. He led the band through an hour of covers, including Huey "Piano" Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," Muddy Waters' "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and a set-closing, "quick and dirty" take on "Twist and Shout." The crowd, naturally, went wild.
And then came the headliners.
It probably didn't feel much like a headlining set for them, but Portugal the Man apparently made the most of it—in between the fire alarm going off. Per Rolling Stone:
Not only did Portugal. The Man have to follow that, but they had to contend with a smoke alarm going off three times early in their set, which automatically turned on the house lights. They somehow powered through all that and slowly won over the Springsteen loyalists with a set of psychedelic tunes from their recent albums that they sprinkled with snippets of classic-rock songs like “Gimme Shelter,” “Children of the Revolution” and “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.” “Shit, that was crazy,” frontman John Gourley said after a few songs. “Did you see Bruce Springsteen was here? Anyway, we’re good too.”
The Boss apparently slunk off before Portugal's set—he's got a standing gig on Broadway to worry about, after all—but the band did manage to get a group shot with the man himself at some point in the night:
Portugal the Man returns to Portland for two nights at Edgefield, on Aug. 24-25. Both shows are sold out.