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The Ghost of Paul Revere with Max Garcia Conover and GoldenOak

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I really care about the clean slate a new year provides, and so I am always a little anxious about having New Year’s Eve plans I am excited about. This night fit the bill perfectly. I had a blast. Welcome, 2018!

I specifically bought a ticket to this show because my friend Max Garcia Conover joined the bill as the night’s first opener, so I knew friends would be there to support him and we could ring in 2018 together. Max was on fire. His songs always have teeth, but the crowd was clearly feeling him and folks erupted with applause after each of his songs. Max is shy by nature, but he shared with the audience and told us the background stories of a few of his songs, which I always appreciate as a concert-goer. Max mesmerized with his guitar playing and kick drum. I’ve seen Max play at least a dozen times, and this was one of his best shows. After his set, people in the audience near me asked me to tell them more about him and asked me to pass along to him how much they’d enjoyed his set.

Max Garcia Conover

Max’s new album, Motorhome, is excellent. No Depression Magazinecalled Motorhome “one of the strongest albums of 2017.” I had coffee with one of my former advisees who also attended the NYE show. She told me that she keeps meaning to take Motorhome out of the CD player in her car so she won’t overplay it, but she keeps forgetting and loves listening to it every time. “Gone,”“Motorhome,”“Abigail for a While,” and “Self Portrait”are some of my favorites on the album, but I love the whole album and think it shows Max’s most cohesive and best writing yet.

I’d never seen Portland’s GoldenOak before, but I liked their sound. They were mellower than Max, so I might have put them on first, but they have a good thing going and I’m glad I got to see them. Check out their new video for “Brother.” They’ll be at Empire with Max Garcia Conover opening on February 22.

GoldenOak

Where do I start about the Ghost of Paul Revere? 2017 was a huge year for them. They toured basically non-stop, criss crossed the country playing in most of the states in America, and put out a killer album–Monarch–that premiered on Billboard. Griffin, Max, and Sean are the best of friends, and it shows in their tight sound and relaxed, engaging stage presence. This was clearly a hometown show for GPR, and they thanked us many times for our ongoing support of the band. In their seventh year as a band, they’ve had their most successful year to date. The momentum they’ve built is palpable and will carry them to the next level. That’s even more obvious as they take the stage tomorrow night to play Conan–their first late night national talk show performance. GPR is definitely on the way to stardom. Ray Routhier featured GPR in an article for the Portland Press Herald last week appropriately titled, “The Ghost of Paul Revere is on the road to making it big.”

The Ghost of Paul Revere

img_7610Ghost had a blast on stage and played their hearts out for us. We were a doting sold out crowd, and it was all good vibes. They invited a few friends on stage to join them throughout the night–Kevin Oates from Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, Devin Mauch from The Ballroom Thieves, and Brian Graham from Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds–come to mind. Someone proposed to his girlfriend during their set, and another friend of the band announced that they’re expecting their first baby, too. It felt like a family reunion as much as a show. I like that.

Sean, Max, and Devin from The Ballroom Thieves

We counted down and rang in 2018 together, and the first song I heard in 2018 was “Next Year,” which is a heartfelt, complex tune and my favorite on Monarch. GPR invited everyone from both opening sets on stage for one of two finales and covered Dawes’ “All Your Favorite Bands” for us. Did they close the night with Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”? They definitely played it towards the end of the night, along with a fantastic cover of the Isley Brothers’ classic feel good song, “Shout.” This night was a total blast and a great way to turn the page on 2017. All good things to all of you in 2018!

xo,

bree

I spy Kevin Oates of MYRO on cello

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I’m usually the one taking photos at concerts, so I was surprised to see that I’m front row center in this picture that Matthew Robbins of matthewrobbinsphoto.com took!

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The Ballroom Thieves with The Bros. Landreth

Friday, November 20

Portland House of Music, Portland, Maine

This show would have been perfect, but the same difficult woman who pushed and verbally harassed me at The Ballroom Thieves show at Empire six months ago was sadly at this show and was as obnoxious as last time. At least I was much further away from her at this show. Concert etiquette is an easy thing to understand—put your phone down, whisper when you talk, respect the personal space of others—but it sadly doesn’t mean everyone comes to a live show to actually listen to the music. For those of us who do, people who ignore those basic rules are the worst. This woman (whose name I know and have decided to withhold after much deliberation) saw me during this show and pointed and waved sarcastically at me during it, all the while talking at more than full volume just inches from the stage while the Thieves performed. I guess she wasn’t really drunk when she was so badly behaved sixth months ago (which was the excuse for her behavior I’d invented) because she shouldn’t have remembered me so many months later. She annoyed the poor people around her so much at this show that they asked her to stop talking over and over again, which she refused, but then she had the audacity to post complaints about how rude the people at the show were later that night on the Facebook event for the show. I continue to be puzzled by her and just hope she’ll skip the next Ballroom Thieves show—for all of our sakes.

Back to the music, though, which was wonderful, even though I was distracted.

This was my first time at Portland House of Music and I liked it. I went with a large group of friends, and we stood next to the stage instead of in the pit, and it offered a great view of the stage. It’s an intimate venue and I don’t think there’s a bad spot in the house. Winnipeg’s The Bros. Landreth were fantastic. The foursome charmed the big crowd with their strong harmonies and honest vocals. At one point, the four stood around one microphone and stunned to silence the entire crowd with their beautiful, sad song, “Greenhouse.” I was truly impressed with their sound and stage presence and have listened to them a bunch since that night. Here’s a piece in Billboard about them that came out last year in advance of their January 2015 release, Let It Lie.  

Bros Landreth

The Bros. Landreth

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The Ballroom Thieves are surely one of my favorite live bands and I love their music so, so much. Martin, Devin, and Callie have incredible chemistry, beautiful harmonies, and heartfelt, engaging songs. They’ve toured a bunch to support A Wolf in the Doorway, and I’m thankful I got to see them live in April, September, and November of 2015. I’m eager for a new album from the Thieves, which must be coming since they’ve played lots of great new songs during these shows. They’re playing a show tomorrow night on New Year’s Eve with Lady Lamb and The Ghost of Paul Revere at State Theatre. (I’ve decided not to go just in case she-who-shall-not-be-named is there, as I don’t want to ring in 2016 anywhere near her.) If you’re feeling up for checking out a fantastic band (you may want to avoid front row center for your concert-going happiness) to end 2015, there are still tickets available! Thieves—I will conjure some bravery to overcome crowd adversity and come see you next time you’re in town! All good things to you in 2016!

xo,

bree

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The Ballroom Thieves

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