On Wednesday, the residents of Bangor overwhelmingly voted to approve the construction of a new arena, to replace the aging Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center. So what does that mean for folks like us? The folks who travel far and wide and spend our hard-earned income on seeing live music and supporting the scene in Maine? Well, it means that in a few short years, there’s a great likelihood that you won’t be doing quite as much traveling. It means that even though there will continue to be great concerts all over the state, it won’t be based solely in southern Maine. It means that everyone — from college students to retirees — is ready to build upon the successes of the past 10 years and make sure that Bangor really lives up to its nickname: the Queen City. It means Bangor’s got its groove back.
That said: Bring on the summer shows. Gas too expensive? Get a crew of people going and carpool. Maine is your oyster. Live it up.
State Theatre, Portland (statetheatreportland.com)
Where to begin? Well, this Sunday, May 8, the Jared Leto Experience, aka 30 Seconds to Mars, will play at the State. Two weeks later, the exact opposite of that band, David Crosby and Graham Nash, will perform on May 21. Songwriter Brett Dennan takes the stage on May 24, and psychedelic electronic cult favorites Shpongle will perform on May 25. Alt-rockers Neon Trees is set for June 1, followed by a sadly sold-out show featuring the folk dynamos the Avett Brothers and John Oates on June 2. Hip-hop legends Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is set for June 3. The dreamy rocker Chris Isaak will perform on June 14, and indie rock superstars the Decemberists, along with “Prairie Home Companion” favorite Sara Watkins, are set for June 16. Heavy rockers Time of Grade and Underoath will play on July 15.
KahBang at the Maine State Pier, Portland (ticketmaster.com)
Bangor’s own KahBang has taken on the task of organizing outdoor concerts on the Maine State Pier in Portland. The first one scheduled is none other than the kings of funk themselves, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, on June 4. Country star Rodney Atkins will play on June 17, and hip-hop songwriter Michael Franti and Spearhead is set to take the stage on June 19. G. Love and Special Sauce will bring the smooth grooves on July 15.
Bangor Waterfront (waterfrontconcerts.com)
If you didn’t know already, now you do. In the next two months, there are four great shows on the Bangor Waterfront. Start it off with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top on May 19, and then follow it up the next week with Maine’s own Ray Lamontagne and guest artist Brandi Carlisle on May 26. The Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Beatles tribute group Yesterday will perform on June 4, and country star Toby Keith is set for July 9.
Port City Music Hall, Portland (portcitymusichall.com)
The Congress Street venue will host an eclectic array of shows in the coming weeks. Southern rockers Molly Hatchet will play on May 8, and folk-punk favorites Deer Tick is set for May 11. A rescheduled show for ’90s alternative hangers-on Marcy Playground is set for May 13. Cabaret punkers the World/Inferno Friendship Society will play on May 14. Experimental rockers Portugal, the Man are set for June 1, songwriter Beth Hart will play on June 2, and jam band fans can rejoice on June 10 when Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Toubab Krewe take the stage.
One Longfellow Square, Portland (onelongfellowsquare.com)
This intimate folk venue hosts some big names. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, one of the heroes of the original 1960s NYC folk scene, will perform on May 18. Dar Williams will play on May 20. Chris Thile, of bluegrass stars Nickel Creek, will play with fellow bluegrass musician Michael Davies on May 25. Agit-pop folk star Michelle Shocked will play on June 10.
There are a couple of other neat shows coming up that are worth mentioning. Rapper Lupe Fiasco will play a finals week show on May 11, at Bates College (bates.edu) in Lewiston. Punk heroes Mission of Burma will play on May 28, at the Space Gallery in Portland (space538.org). And Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, with special guest Tony Trishka, will play hilarious and brilliant bluegrass on May 18, at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland (porttix.com).