1. It’s going to be a loud weekend in Bangor, for several reasons. First off, Friday night at Tantrum there’s an epic night of metal featuring Maine bands Holyfilth, Chaos Machine, Culling the Herd, Sateris and Emerge From Silence. On the lighter side, there’s jazz with the Scott Cleveland Quartet at Nocturnem Drafthaus, acoustic warrior Travis Cyr at the Sea Dog, karaoke with Allison at Paddy’s, Jon Nowak at the Big Easy, and out in Winterport, there’s Joel Scott Watson of the 220s playing a solo set at 4Points BBQ & Blues. It’s also the last weekend of Penobscot Theatre’s acclaimed production of “Our Town,” and at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer, the Focus Group does their improv thang at 8 p.m. Moving onto Saturday and in keeping with the “loud” theme, the Waterfront Concert season kicks off with the Rise Above Fest, featuring heavy bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Seether (pictured), Hellyeah, Black Stone Cherry and lots of others. Saturday also brings the opening of KahBang Arts’ Central Gallery on Central Street, and that evening enjoy either rockers When Particles Collide at Paddy’s, rockabilly band Three Button Deluxe at Nocturnem, the Rotating Taps at Ipanema, Roots Rhythm & Dub at the Big Easy, and out in Winterport there’s Shades of Blue at 4Points.
2. I can’t even, with the things to write here. Holy moly, Portland, I can’t keep up! On Friday night, there’s the record release party for the fantastically talented Jaw Gems (pictured), set for Bunker Brewing in Bayside and featuring guests Endless Caverns, Altered Gree and Contrapposto. Country favorites the Mavericks are at the State Theatre; songwriters Katie Herzig, Elizabeth and the Catapult and Keelan Donovan are at Port City Music Hall, and at Empire, there’s jam band Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Metal band Sevendust strips down for an acoustic set at the Asylum, former Portland songwriter Eric Bettencourt is back at One Longfellow Square, and out in Biddeford, the Defibulators and Muddy Ruckus are at Oak and the Ax. And that’s just Friday. On Saturday, the Maine People’s Alliance hosts a benefit concert at the State Theatre featuring Pure Prairie League, Jonathan Edwards and Livingston Taylor, while at Port City there’s the Fogcutters and Kenya Hall. KGFREEZE, Tall Horse and Leveret will play at the Asylum, Kris Delmhorst is at One Longfellow, and Waylon Speed and Whale Oil are set for Empire. At the Space Gallery, the Amarantos Quartet, Emily Dix Thomas, Kafari, Jaw Gems, Altered Gee and Gabe FM play a fundraiser for Benjamin Meiklejohn’s new cocktail lounge the Jewel Box, and at the Oak and the Ax in there’s Fur, Boyfriends, High Spirits and Alex Keaton. I am tired just writing all that.
3. That Maine People’s Alliance benefit concert is actually two nights; the first night is at the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth on Friday, with the same lineup (Pure Prairie League, Jonathan Edwards and Livingston Taylor). Also in Ellsworth this weekend are Midnight Rose on Friday at Chummies, at the Trenton Grange at 7:30 p.m. on Friday there’s an all ages dress up 80s dance party with Destroy Them My Robots (pictured), and on the island there’s the Crown Vics at Second Wind Tapas Bar in Southwest Harbor, and the return of party band the Larks is set for Little Anthony’s in Bar Harbor on Saturday. Across the bay in Rockland, there are a couple fun things for your Saturday night, including the 220s at the Myrtle Street Tavern, rockers Raised by Wolves at Rock City Coffee, and, of course, the second of ten nights in total for the super fun Arcade Fire “Here Comes the Night” karaoke competition, set for the Time Out Pub Saturday evening. Come down, sing a song, be entered to win a mega grand prize package including VIP tickets to the Arcade Fire concert in Bangor on Aug. 20, worth over $1000 — you want more info? Here it is.
4. It’s graduation Saturday for lots of schools, including the University of Maine, Husson University, Eastern Maine Community College, the University of Southern Maine and many others. If you’re one of those smart kids finishing college this weekend, you’ve probably got family coming up to cheer you on. Looking for lunch or dinner options, apre-commencement? In the Bangor area, I suggest those with larger parties of six or more to check out the roomy digs at either the Sea Dog Brewing Company or Seasons in Bangor, or the fantastic crowd-pleasing barbecue (and outdoor patios) at either the Whistling Pig in Bangor or 4Points in Winterport. For those with smaller parties, Massimo’s in Bangor does an affordable but classy Italian dinner service, and I personally love both Little Vietnam on Hogan Road or Yoshi in Brewer, for Asian food. In Portland, for larger groups, the Great Lost Bear is a crowd pleaser as is the Congress Bar & Grill, and for a splurge, Grace will fit plenty of people; for smaller parties, well, Portland is full of amazing options. You literally can’t go wrong.
5. We’re getting into blockbuster season, as “The Amazing Spiderman 2″ has already opened, and the Seth Rogan/Zac Efron “Three Men and a Baby” in a frat house vehicle “Neighbors” opens this weekend. Made-in-Maine flick “Beneath the Harvest Sky” is at lots of theaters including Bangor Mall Cinemas and Railroad Square Cinemas in Waterville; opening at Railroad and at the Nickelodeon in Portland is “Finding Vivian Maier,” a fascinating documentary, while thriller “Locke” is at Railroad only and WWII drama “The Railway Man” is at the Nick. Next weekend: IT’S GODZILLA V. WALTER WHITE TIME!