Cuco and Portugal. The Man have come a long way in 2018. Both had some of their best performances on record at top festivals like Coachella, have traveled the world over (much to the delight of adoring fans), and have had numerous awards and accolades before the year’s end.  To say both bands have been unstoppable is underselling their appeal.

We caught up with Cuco and Portugal at Shrine Auditorium, one of the largest entertainment venues in California that plays hosts to some of the best performers and artists on the planet. The fandom was fever pitch, and the performances were unforgettable. Although relatively young, both artists still have their entire careers ahead of them, and fans are merely seeing a glimpse of what will be.

Cuco & J-Kwest by Brianna Lien

The 20-year-old heartthrob from Hawthrone, known as Cuco, is on fire. From his sold out shows that lead fans clamoring for more, to some of the best performances at festivals across the national, the young Omar Banos just keeps the love coming. His romantic appeal and emotional honesty is refreshing to see in music today, as he connects with fans on a personal and touching level. Screaming audience members beg for more and often leave entire festivals after his performance. It’s rare to see an opening act already this beloved at such an early part of their career, and it’s a huge highlight in current music circles. His marked interest is intoxicating, and we couldn’t get enough of Cuco’s swagger. Make sure to catch him on his upcoming tour with Kali Uchis, and his performance later this year at Tropicalia Fest. You can grab tickets to Tropicalia here, tickets to Cuco here, and tickets to Kali Uchis’ tour here.

Cuco by Brianna Lien

Cuco’s mainstream appeal has broken beyond the indie circles of Los Angeles and has particularly tapped into a demographic that needs more representation in the media, which is why he’s such a constant and critical hit. His songs are partly (or fully) sung in Spanish, he’s played to communities and peoples that are often ignored (like the incredibly successful Chella fest earlier this year), and he’s soon brining his soulful Chicano stylings to Europe and the UK later this year. We need more young, diverse artist like Cuco, and his success is telling of the stunning shift we’re seeing in entertainment this year and will continue to see in the coming. decade. His performance at Shrine Auditorium highlighted his massive appeal and undeniable charisma. His full 6 piece band completely delivered, and then some.

Portugal. The Man by Brianna Lien

Now, on to Portugal. The Man. The Alaskan band is another Californian and festival favorite that rocked fest after fest all year long. After winning a Grammy earlier this year, the band took their loveable antics and critically acclaimed music on tour. Their performance at Coachella was one of the highlights of the entire weekend, as the band notoriously played Beavis and Butthead clips, covered Metallica, and brought immense energy to an unassuming crowd. The band also recently proved to be one of our favorite acts at Mo Pop Fest, which you can read more about here.

Portugal. The Man by Brianna Lien by Brianna Lien

At Shrine Auditorium, Portugal. The Man’s unfortgettable live show involved local Native Americans performing traditional songs, trippy and hypnotic background stage videos, devil horns, and covers of popular T-Rex/Ghostface hits. After performances like these, it’s understandable how the indie rock darlings continue to enamor and surprise fans again and again.

The Alaskan band grew up among large native populations, and always incorporates the fact that we’re on borrowed land into the show. This message hit particularly well with the hugely diverse crowd and all age ranging fans at Shrine Auditorium that night. The band goes beyond simple awareness or acknowledgement of a diverse history, but is actively participating and encouraging it. It’s one thing to observe and note a location’s history, but entirely another to invite local Native Americans to include an entire stadium in a communal history. We need more inclusion like this, and both Portugal and Cuco really hit that home.

Portugal. The Man by Brianna Lien

After a particuallarly rousing and self loving event that really reminded us of our perspective part in history as not only Los Angelinos, Californians, and Americans, we left the event reflecting more than we have from any show in awhile. Not only are both Cuco and Portugal offering glimpses into a distinct culture we might not have been fully immersed in previously, but they are bringing an all encompassing and familiar message to the world. Bring your friends, family, and neighbors to a Cuco or Porgual. The Man show, and make them a part of living history. You won’t regret it.

For more details on Portugal. The Man tour dates, check here.

Photos by Brianna Lien, words by Jacob Fishman