BANGOR, Maine — Complaints received by police and city staff before and after Wednesday’s heavy metal festival on the Bangor Waterfront have prompted city officials to call for more discussion about how to resolve noise problems related to concerts.
City councilors and staff will host a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 22, at City Hall to discuss what changes might be made to quell noise, City Councilor Ben Sprague said the morning after the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Discussions might include the potential for some sort of additional sound barrier.
City Manager Cathy Conlow said Thursday morning that she was informed about a dozen noise complaints made to the Bangor Police Department and a dozen more to city staff and the City Council.
Conlow said she also has heard about a smattering of complaints from outlying communities, including at least one from Brewer and another from Orrington. Messages left with the Brewer Police Department were not returned Thursday.
Tracy Willette, Bangor’s Parks and Recreation director, said Monday afternoon that the city monitors decibel levels at each Waterfront Concert.
“The levels we took last night seemed to be consistent with what we had seen for different types of shows in the past,” Willette said.
A few noise complaints have followed many concerts on the Bangor Waterfront. This year, Waterfront Concerts built the Darling ’ s Waterfront Pavilion, which is pointed toward the downtown area and a gradual slope meant to redirect sound and create a better overall venue for artists, concertgoers and neighboring residents.
Alex Gray, Waterfront Concerts promoter, said 25 complaints is typical for a rock show, whether it be metal or classic. While switching the stage orientation helped reduce noise in the densely populated West Side neighborhood, Gray said he has told the city all along that the change would only shift complaints from one neighborhood to another.
Low-frequency bass notes, which are prevalent in rock music, carry much farther and can be heard in all directions, no matter where speakers are pointed, Gray said.
He attributes most of the complaints to “taste intolerance,” citing the fact that country crooner Reba McEntire in 2011 was the loudest Waterfront Concerts act, yet drew the fewest complaints from residents.
There’s no “magic bullet” to contain the noise and stem complaints, according to Gray. Waterfront Concerts could build a roof over the venue to hold in some of the sound, but that likely would be a multimillion-dollar project.
Gray said Waterfront Concerts is precluded under band contracts from releasing attendance numbers, but did say “several thousand” metal fans turned out for the show and more than 1,000 were lined up outside the gate at noon waiting for the venue to open.
The nine-hour festival, which featured heavy metal groups Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon and Amon Amarth, broke up after headliner Rob Zombie’s final song around 10:15 p.m. as an intense thunderstorm hit Bangor.
Zombie’s performance, which likely would have included a few encore songs, was cut short and the venue quickly cleared of patrons as the storm rolled in, according to Willette. A large gate on Main Street was opened to allow for quicker-than-normal exits. Willette said it was a “pretty easy decision” to cut the show short.
Waterfront Concerts has proved to be “exactly what we wanted it to be,” Gray said.
A study released early this year by University of Maine economist Todd Gabe found that the concert series generated more than $30 million for the local economy in its first three years. Gray said he expects this to be the series’ biggest year yet, with more big-name acts in more genres than any of its previous years.
Willette said the city would listen to residents’ concerns at Monday’s meeting and continue to balance them with the popularity of the concerts to see what solutions might exist.
“It continues to be a work in progress,” Willette said.