An Evening With the Maine is an apt title for the first headlining tour by pop punk band the Maine. The overall design of the show is one intended to draw the audience into engagement with the group as well as showing cooperation between the three acts that take part in the evening's concert. Confetti, gifts shared from the audience, and frequent checks to make sure everyone is having a good time, even in the balcony, all draw the fans in for an evening of fun.
Austin Gibbs and This Century Open the Show
Kicking off the Maine's evening is a brief solo set from Austin Gibbs. Armed with amped acoustic guitar and harmonica, he pleased the crowd almost instantly. Austin Gibbs is a resident of Arizona along with the Maine and This Century. His set was highlighted by a spirited audience singalong on "I Like The Ones."
Following Austin Gibbs was the band This Century. Strikingly led by lead vocalist Joel Kanitz, This Century perform a highly melodic form of power pop. Prepping the fans for the headliners is the primary job of this Tempe, Arizona based band, and their charming, energetic songs perform the task well.
Setting the Stage for the Maine
In the pause between This Century's set and the opening notes of headliners the Maine, it is fun to see the stage set slowly transformed to something like a cozy living room for music. I was reminded of the design of Tom Petty stage shows, and the Maine consider him a significant musical influence. Throw rugs are unfurled to cover the stage and the vintage look of drums and amplification equipment add to the cosy feel.
However, just when you feel the band may come on stage to perform their version of a living room jam session, shirtless lead vocalist John O'Callaghan leads the band onstage showing off the words, "We'll all be the greatest" tattooed across his chest, and a blast of confetti erupts over the audience. By the time the first song is over and John O'Callaghan has performed part of the song lying on his back, it's obvious the stars of the night have arrived.
John O'Callaghan and the Art of Playing to the Audience
The Maine are a young band and still expanding their repertoire of songs and refining songwriting techniques. However, they do have a rapport with fans that many much more well established bands would love to emulate. The crowd at the Blue Note were rapturous in their response to the Maine. Gifts were given by crowd members including a set of personalized white capes for each band member dutifully worn by the group for a portion of the show. It wasn't long before the entire atmosphere in the club was one of a large house party with a local favorite band providing the evening's entertainment.
Among the song highlights from the Maine's set were "Girls Do What They Want" from the band's first album Can't Stop, Won't Stop. The performance included segments where both female and male audience members were given the microphone to sing a portion of the lead line. A muscular performance of "Right Girl" from the Maine's second and current album Black & White also produced a strong audience response. As the party rolled on, Joel Kanitz of This Century was also brought back to share vocals and Austin Gibbs contributed guitar work.
The Maine Are Gaining Their Footing
The Maine have come a long way from their first appearance in Columbia, Missouri as supporting act for We the Kings. They appeared comfortable as headliners, but they also have work to be done to reach the top level of touring bands, not the least of which is generating more solidly engaging songs. However, an evening with the Maine is an evening of solid entertainment, and you will leave the venue feeling a close affinity with the musicians who have just put their heart and energy into a solid performance.
Reviewed at Columbia, Missouri's Blue Note July 26, 2010.