Tag Archives: Maine State Pier

Dashboard Confessional

Friday, August 24, 2018

Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine

I bought a house this summer, which meant that I canceled a solid month of concert-going to renovate and move, including a trip to the Newport Folk Festival. I couldn’t, however, skip seeing Dashboard Confessional at the Maine State Pier, which says a lot, because the Pier is a terrible venue and I was slammed. If you’re in your late 30s, you might also be at the right age for Dashboard Confessional to have been important to you at a transition point in your life. Their 2001 album, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, has been my go-to break up album for almost 20 years.

I spent the afternoon with my friend Jan at Reid State Park and then scooted down to Portland to catch Dashboard’s set. The person I talked to at the ticket booth was friendly, which is about the only positive interaction I’ve ever had with a staff member at the Pier, so it deserves a mention. I ran into one of my former students and her big sister and caught up for a bit, and then grabbed my spot in front of the barricade to take photos for the first three songs of Dashboard’s set.

If you have nostalgic feelings about Dashboard, then this was a pretty okay show. If you didn’t, I bet you thought their set fell flat. Chris Carrabba’s got a lot of screechy high notes to hit in his songs, so he balances that with a lot of chatting with the audience. He also gave personal introductions of every member of the band. Chris knows his audience well by now, and said, “some of you guys were in drama and got beat up like me. If we all feel weird together, we don’t have to feel weird alone.” I was so glad to hear “Again I Go Unnoticed,” “Saints and Sailors,” and “Screaming Infidelities” early in their 14-song set. To introduce “Screaming Infidelities,” Chris said “come on kids–we’re going crying.”

IMG_6392Chris said Weezer was the first band to believe in Dashboard Confessional, so they covered “Say It Ain’t So” to thank them. I didn’t like the new song for this tour–“Kinda Yeah Sorta,” but Dashboard hasn’t been putting a ton of music out in the last decade, so I’ll forgive it. Chris talked a lot between songs, and his messages were about inclusion and kindness. To introduce “We Fight,” he said “we are all accepting of each other’s differences in this space. I don’t know what’s going on with the rest of the world, but I beg you to show them what we are doing right. Let’s make a better world for ourselves and our children.”

IMG_6497I made my way to the rear of the audience to watch the full moon behind the stage light up the sky. Chris played “Hands Down,” which he always says is about the “best day he’s ever had in his whole life” to end their set. I was glad to hear some of these songs that mean a lot to me in person again, and was happy to get to do that nearby in Portland on a gorgeous night.

xo,

bree

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Joe Walsh with JD & The Straight Shot

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine

When I got a kind invitation from JD & The Straight Shot’s publicist to attend this show where they were opening for legendary Eagles’ guitarist Joe Walsh, I decided I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. I had two reservations about this, though, because classic rock is not really my thing and I HATE the Maine State Pier. I think it’s easily the worst venue in Maine. I avoid shows there. My former sweetie said it well after we went to see Jonny Lang and The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band there last summer, “maybe if I had been closer to the stage it would have been more engaging, but standing room feels essentially like you are standing outside the venue looking in.” I completely agree. Going to “see” a show at the Pier is practically guaranteed to be a disappointment. When people ask me about seeing a show at the Pier, I tell them to skip it. If they absolutely love the artist, I recommend they go see them on another stop of the tour in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. If the Pier is a must, I suggest getting reserved seat tickets as close to the stage as you can afford (tickets are usually very expensive at the Pier, no matter where you end up, though), or get there before doors open and make sure you’re in the front row along the outside third of either the right or left side of the barricade that separates GA from the reserved seats. Even if you’re in the second row of GA, you’re probably not going to be able to see a thing, and certainly not the stage. If you’re in GA, you absolutely cannot see if you’re directly behind the soundboard tent, which spans about 30% of the width of the Pier.

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I held my phone up over my head to take this picture. So, if you’re about 6’5”, this could be your view from GA at the Maine State Pier. See that ant on stage in yellow? That’s Joe Walsh. What a view!

Also, I always feel a little on edge at the Pier. There are always folks there who are shirtless and smoking cigarettes while shouting obscenities and stumbling from too much alcohol. Oh! And this show happened to be the night the Pier rolled out their new “security policy,” where no purses were allowed unless they were wristlet sized OR you waited in line to buy a clear plastic tote bag printed with the “Waterfront Concerts” logo that then you could just place your entire purse (much bigger than wristlet size) in. What is the point? It was so stupid. I am all for increased security, but do thorough bag searches—don’t just make a security policy that someone can circumvent by buying a crappy plastic bag for $5. I hate this venue. “Seeing” shows there is the worst and that means that I go there as infrequently as possible.

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Don’t you feel safer already?

I invited my friend Ian to join me, because he’d just finished taking the bar exam (no, I didn’t invite him to the Pier because I don’t like him), and we parked and got to the venue when I was told by their publicist the opening band was slated to start. I don’t know why, but JD & The Straight Shot took the stage early. By the time I got my press pass (see, I had to wait in the same line as the ladies looking to buy their “secure” $5 clear plastic bag), they were well into their set. I was there at the invitation of their publicist, so I wanted to be sure to get a nice photo of the band for them, but someone who worked for the Pier shooed me away and told me I’d missed the first three songs of their set, so I couldn’t take any pictures. I told him I’d been invited by the band and asked if I could just sit in an empty seat for one minute and take a handful of shots, but he flatly refused. I was frustrated. I emailed their publicist with the bad news and only ended up hearing a song or two. I thought the band was pretty talented, but their front man, Knicks owner James Dolan (JD), was odd. He wore a Mad Hatter hat and was awkward during his banter and then literally pulled a stuffed bunny out of it and threw it into the crowd. He reminded me of a creepy uncle that you try to avoid at Thanksgiving because everything he says and does makes people cringe. It definitely seemed like he just put some money into hiring a talented backup band so he could go on tour and be a rock star. I actually think the band could be good if they got a new lead singer, though.

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JD & The Straight Shot

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I was excited to see Joe Walsh. I watched an interview with him online, and I respect that he got clean after decades of heavy drug use. I was a little surprised to hear how great he sounded live. He’s still got it. I shot at the stage for one song before someone from the Walsh Toor (that’s what they’re calling it) let me know I needed to shoot from the sound booth. Since that is really far from the stage, I decided it wasn’t worth it, so I lingered at the side and ended up chatting with the only other photographer, who turned out to be Ben Moore from Active Beer Geek. Ian and I “watched” some of Joe’s set from general admission, but people around us were drunk and belligerent and you can’t actually see anything from GA, so we left early after hearing Joe do a cover of “Everyday People.” The backup singers were great, too!

FullSizeRender 13IMG_3859IMG_3830IMG_3862Ian and I grabbed a shared table on the deck next door at Flatbread, and enjoyed delicious cocktails (we were trying to salvage the night after an icky trip to the Pier, after all) while eavesdropping a little on the couple sitting at the other end of our table. They were definitely on a first date, and it seemed to be going really well. We thought the woman talked a little bit too much about weddings for a first date, but her date seemed into her overall and was quite attentive. We agreed they’d probably have a second date. We were far better able to hear the Joe Walsh show from Flatbread’s deck than the Pier, and heard “Take It to the Limit” (which he played in honor of his Eagles bandmate, Glenn Frey, who passed away early this year) and “Life in the Fast Lane.” We had a delicious dinner, and when a new couple sat down at the other end of our table, I jokingly asked them if they were also on their first date, and they told us they’d just gotten engaged! They were really sweet, and Ian and I were among the first to know! The second half of the night helped salvage the first, and we had fun, despite having tried and failed (again) to enjoy a show at the Maine State Pier.

xo,

bree

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Jonny Lang and The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine

When a publicist I correspond with regularly emailed to invite me to this show, I nearly passed. I’m a folk girl with a real love for lyrics, so seeing two blues guitarists (even though they are my age and already have decades of accolades behind them), seemed a little out of my element. I’d actually seen Jonny Lang back in 1997 when I was a college freshman and he was probably 16 years old. My most vivid memory of that night is that we were up front by the stage for his opening set, but then there was a powerful surge in the crowd when the headliner, Blues Traveler, took the stage. It was the closest to a genuine trampling I’d experience at a show for a solid decade. I mentioned the invite to my sweetie and he insisted we go to the show—and even volunteered to write about it for whatbreesees. It was a real treat to have a photo pass for the show, because, and I want to give readers fair warning here—seeing a show at the Maine State Pier from the GA section is a nightmare. After I took my photos for the first few songs of both sets right at the foot of the stage and went back to join Jeff in GA, I could barely see the stage and it was kind of pointless to be there. We even ended up leaving the show early and grabbed dinner nearby at Flatbread. I was unhappily surprised when I could see the stage better from our table at Flatbread than I could from the GA section on the Pier. So, if you care about actually having a sight line on the band you pay to see at the Pier, either spring for one of those incredibly expensive seated areas up front or get there early and snag a spot along the barricade in the front row of GA so you might actually see the show. Hopefully that’s a helpful vent about the venue in case you have plans to go there. Both bands were impressive and I wish we’d been able to actually see them to enjoy their talent live.

xo,

bree

Jonny Lang

Jonny Lang

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Here’s Jeff’s brief recap of what you missed if you skipped this show, and more photos follow:

This is my first of hopefully many guest blogger show recaps for whatbreesees.com. I had three big takeaways from my concert experience with Johnny Lang and The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band at the Maine State Pier. Number one—these musicians are excellent at what they do. The confidence they show through their music is unmistakable. I personally enjoyed Johnny Lang’s performance and his music much more than his counterpart. His brand of blues is something I find accessible and at the same time exciting to listen to. Number two—Kenny Wayne Shepherd is not the singer of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. OK, I knew this one. But my sweetie did not. (Editor’s note: He’s right, I didn’t.) Kenny Wayne Shepherd is an amazing guitarist, but when I hear his hit “Blue On Black” on the radio, I picture one man singing and playing the guitar at the same time, which isn’t the case. Number three—The Maine State Pier is not my first choice of concert venues. I understand the concept of wanting to host a concert on the water, close to the excitement of the Old Port, but the sightlines are not great (it is a long pier) and I did not feel especially comfortable relaxing and listening. I wanted to lie on a blanket on the grass and listen, or at least be able to see the stage. Maybe if I had been closer to the stage it would have been more engaging, but standing room feels essentially like you are standing outside the venue looking in. (Editor’s note: That’s exactly what it felt like! Well said!) I envied the crew of the ferry parked next to the venue looking down from their perch.

Until next time,

Jeff

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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It turns out that Noah Hunt is the lead singer of The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. News to me!

It turns out that Noah Hunt is the lead singer of The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. News to me!

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