BANGOR, Maine — Bass Park was filled with skinny jeans, punk T-shirts, metal music and anti-drug information last Friday afternoon.
“It’s an event for youth to come and get information about local services,” said Tim Shaw, the organizer of Skate Against Drugs. Shaw works as the youth liaison and overdose prevention specialist for the city of Bangor. “Why not have music as a background? Music is a great communicator. We use it to get the message across.”
On stage thrashing about and playing wildly was Wolves Among Sleep, a band with a metal sound composed of young musicians. Sandwiching the crowd on the other end was a tent of sponsors handing out information. Between the two, the young people moshed, danced, skated and talked in the rainy drizzle.
“They’re not ready to figure out their lives today — they’re here for a concert,” Sam Kunz of the Penobscot Job Corps said at his table under the tent. “They’ve come here for a concert, but they find me.”
Watching from afar was Kent Palmer, running the soundboard.
“Anything that keeps kids focused on reality is great,” 57-year-old Palmer said. “Even though it’s not the music of my generation, I try to make it sound good.”
Mike Billings, 34, the organizer of MYX Productions, believes that combining what he described as “hard music” with an anti-drug message could help break stereotypes.
“When I grew up here, there was nothing to do, nowhere to play,” Billings said. “It’s great that bands can rock out for a good cause.”
For 14-year-old Jon Dill of Bangor, the genre of music doesn’t matter.
“I like having bands come down here and play,” he said. Dill sat on the back of a park bench, his Element skateboard beneath him. “I think there are a lot of kids here on drugs that shouldn’t be.”
Dill is home-schooled and said events like this help him meet people. He goes to the skate park “pretty much every day.”
“I just like this kind of music. I like that people can join together,” said Annissa Nicola, 15, of Brewer. “It’s different.”
Some of the organizations that participated in the event were Penobscot Job Corps, Eastern Maine AIDS Network, Bangor STD Clinic and Rape Response Services.