Much like the question, “What’s your all time favorite album?” the question “What’s the best live show you’ve ever seen?” always has at least ten answers. For me, I’d start with Cat Power in 2001, at the Skinny, a long-defunct Portland venue; she was beautiful. Then Sleater-Kinney, Boston, 2002, when I was in the front row and had my face melted off; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs opened. The Wrens, New York City, 2003, a band you’ve probably never heard of but are totally incredible. Ween, live on Halloween 2003 in Burlington, Vermont, when they dressed up as vikings and played for three blindingly awesome hours. Of Montreal, Space Gallery, Portland, 2006, right after they switched from twee-pop to theatrical glam funk. Gogol Bordello (pictured above), both times – once in New York City in 2002, and once at Bates College in Lewiston, 2007; the definition of an insane live band, and one that I’ll be seeing again at the end of May.
See? Now I can’t stop. The Flaming Lips, 2010, Nateva Festival in western Maine, because I finally saw them live and they were as amazing and ridiculous as everyone said they’d be. Bob Dylan, Bangor Waterfront, 2011, in a show that just felt right overall, from the weather to the crowd. But the kicker, and if hard pressed I’ve have to say the best, was certainly the Arcade Fire, September 2005, live in Central Park in NYC, one year after “Funeral” came out. They brought David Bowie out for the encore, and I had a minor nervous breakdown. I could go on, but instead I’ll ask you, dear reader: what was YOUR favorite live show? And in the meantime, here’s a list of tons of great shows to check out in the next few months in Maine.
You can end your March at the State Theatre with two nights of hip hop; Excision on March 29, and two shows with the man, the myth, the legend Snoop Dogg on March 30; there are still tickets for the 11 p.m. show. Strangefolk plays a sold out show here on March 31, and metal reigns with Mastodon, Opeth and Ghost on April 4. Pop and indie pop bring a one-two punch, with Needtobreathe and Ben Rector on April 16 and Passion Pit on April 17. Rockers Seether and Sidecar Radio are set for April 20, and Pat Benatar’s long sold out show is set for April 21. Close out April with the heavy sounds of Theory of a Deadman, Pop Evil and Stellar Revival on April 24, and groovy jam-rock with O.A.R. on April 25.
Moving onto May, Grateful Dead survivor Bob Weir plays on May 1, and on May 5, indie rock takes the stage with wistful songwriter M. Ward and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Renaldo. Irish rockerts Flogging Molly are set for May 12, comedian and “Parks and Recreation” star Aziz Ansari brings it May 16, and there’s more metal on May 17 with Whitechapel, Miss May I and After the Burial. May ends with one of my aforementioned favorite live acts of all time: Gogol Bordello, with Two Gallants and El Mariachi Bronx, on May 31.
Port City Music Hall, Portland
Second wave ska band the English Beat plays here on April 1, followed a few weeks later by jam bands Conspirator, Indobox and Of the Trees on April 13. Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon performs with lots of local hip hop artist on April 19, and Mayer Hawthorne and the County take the stage on April 20. Songwriter Kathleen Edwards is set for May 1, The Wood Brothers – featuring Chris Wood from Medeski, Martin and Wood – are scheduled for May 23, and brass band Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will perform on June 6.
Two nice concerts here in May: bluesman Joe Bonamassa on May 23, and the iconic Bonnie Raitt, with songwriter Marc Cohn, on May 31 – though sadly, her show is sold out.
This Thursday, none other than Los Lobos are set for this western Maine venue on March 29. The Sweetback Sisters play on March 30, songwriter Shawn Colvin is set for April 14, and cult favorites Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks are scheduled for April 15. Flash forward to May, and Judy Collins plays on May 5, Southside Johnny and the Poor Fools on May 11, Tom Rush on May 19, zydeco master Terrance Simian on May 26, banjo king Bela Fleck with Marcus Roberts on May 28, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on May 31, and Maine’s own Don McLean on June 7.
In between all the wonderful films, discussions, gallery shows and other events at the Space, there’s music. Indie folk band Lost in the Trees and Poor Moon are set for April 10, the family-friendly, hilarious songwriter Gustafer Yellowgold will play April 22, Scottish indie rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks are slated for April 25, electro pop band Future Islands takes the stage April 29, and Dirty Beaches and Xiu Xiu return to Space on May 8.
Portland’s most intimate acoustic venue hosts Peter Yarrow on March 31, Jonathan Edwards on April 6, Greg Brown on April 26, Aztec Two Step on May 11, Chris Smither on May 20, bluesman Duke Robaillaid on May 25, John Gorka on June 1, and two Dar Williams shows on June 2.
How is it possible that the Waterfront Concert season is barely over a month away? It starts with Trans-Siberian Orchestra on May 9, moves onto mainstream rock with Godsmack, Staind, Hellyeah and Brook Royal on May 19, and evening of country music headlined by Gary Allan on May 27, and country rockers Zac Brown Band on June 2.