Electronic vibes at Flask
Let’s face it, we all need to cut a rug every now and again. Even those of us who deny ourselves the privilege need to do so- perhaps more than those of us who don’t. For what feels like an era, Flask has been providing Portland with a much needed dose of dirty drops for dancing and the booming bass needed for your booty shake. In recent times, with EDM having fully integrated itself into the framework of our music industry, Flask has achieved peak performance. If you need an escape from the usual Fore St grind, you will always find a safe place to be yourself here. Weekly, they curate proper house tunes on Foundation Fridays with Jaime O’Sullivan; on Sundays you will find Portland’s own Daze Inn (Stephen Jordan) dropping bass-bombs all over the floor, recruiting a rotating lineup of talented local favorites. Future Classic is a Saturday event that is always worth attending as well. Flask is a go-to for weekend shenanigans on the Portland home-front. If you like house music, Moses, Dan Desumthn and Silverchild are bringing the heat to Hawt Mess on July 9th.
Metal, Punk and Indie everything thrives at the Space Gallery
If punk and metal are at the bloody, beating heart of Portland, indie rock is its artistic soul. When you really want to understand the culture around here, attend a few shows at Space; they represent the raw, emotional and artistic nature of the Portland locals that made this city the way it is. Space Gallery is an icon here, closely tied to the Maine College of Art. There you will regularly find events to stimulate your artistic mind, as well as a number of music events, including Primitive Man with Cult Leader, Of Feather and Bone and Sylvia on the 28th of June, And the Kids with Vundabar and Abbie Morin on the 30th, and Mitski with Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som on July 25. The headliners are defined respectively as follows: “A nihilistic blend of brutal death metal, deviant noise, and primeval doom,” “the Western Mass indie scene’s brightest creative lights,” and “the High Priestess of Modern Punk.”
Beltek Music Festival
Beltek is like fight club, but with spirit hoods, kandi and bubbles. Due to the first rule of fight club, I’m already breaking the rules; so I’m going to keep this entry brief. This used to be an invite-only, private rave party in the woods outside of scenic Belfast, but has now become the best public underground electronic dance party this side of Brooklyn. Here's a quick word from Les Rhoda, a local legend in the dance scene, “For local DJs who are truly committed to the craft, Beltek is the jam. It's run by some of the most veteran DJs in Maine, and to play it is an honor. Definitely a huge family vibe at this fest. Not a big surprise considering the founders came up in the era where Peace Love Unity Respect was a real thing...and still is.” I couldn’t put it any better if I tried. See you there on August 5th.
North Atlantic Blues Fest
It seems as if you’d be equally as likely to find a good blues festival in Maine as you would be to find a good rack of smoked pork ribs with carolina barbecue sauce. But the jokes on you, because those are (ironically) two things you can find right here in the Pine Tree State. On July 16 through the 18th, Rockland will host their sixteenth annual North Atlantic Blues Fest, which will welcome some of the most influential and authentic blues artists known to the United States. Here's a way to tell they’re doing something right: in 2002, promoters and proprietors of the festival Paul Benjamin and Jaime Isaacson won the coveted “Keeping the Blues Alive” award in Memphis, TN; and they’ve been keeping it alive up here in the Union ever since.
Put Gater, O.T.T, and God Damn Chan on your radar
Maine has always had a romance with locality. We take enormous pride in the things we produce around here, and we're not limited to blueberries and lobster. Gater, for instance, is a group formed of Portland locals Steve Martin, Bryan Kessler and Robbie Cooper, on Guitar, Production, and Keys respectively; and they’ve been producing some of the thickest, funkiest and jazziest tunes heard in Maine or anywhere. You can find them performing with Dopapod at Port City Music Hall on August 25th, and at a number of other events during the summer. Having collaborated with Gater on an epic tune titled “Afterthought,” the producer known as Of The Trees is making huge waves on the local and national level, and he’s a Maine native, based out of Portland. His recent EP release party for “Dream Atlas” hailed a new era for his basstastic melodies; and if you missed that, or his last show at Empire with Sixis, you should certainly not miss him at Great North this year. Or Gater for that matter. You might be able to spot O.T.T playing another B2B at Flask’s Open Decks Night with the mighty trap lord God Damn Chan, another Portland producer who is not to be missed. He has been in the studio producing trap, bass music and hip hop instrumentals worthy of performance in Chicago, LA, and Brooklyn alike. Find him performing with Spose, another Maine legend, at the Middle East in Mass on August 6th.
Snooze and Friends have big plans
There is a new promoter and producer in town, and he goes by Snooze. Although it sounds like you’d find him taking a nap in the club, he is one of the most ambitious young members of the nightlife community in Portland. Here’s what he has to say about his first production company, Taproot: “Taproot is representative of that first root that goes straight down, deep underground. We’re just building a root system right now; we'll get to the flowers later.” Having had wildly successful shows at Empire and the Urban Farm Fermentory, Snooze is revealing aspirations to hold events at larger venues in town, like the Port City Music Hall and the State Theatre. New events are posted frequently, and they sell out quick, so keep your eyes peeled! If you care to attend a guaranteed banger, come and see local favorites Soley and Dhost perform alongside nationally recognized acts Kaminanda and Kll Smth at Empire on June 30th. Until then, find Snooze on Facebook and stay updated.
Thompson’s Point and State Theatre are music venue titans
The following are words are written truthfully and with justice: Thompson’s Point's summer schedule is simply off the chain. Paired with shows at the State Theatre and after parties at PCMH, this July in Portland may as well be a month-long music festival. Why travel when you could stay in the area and catch all of these shows within a period of two weeks: Lauryn Hill at State on July 10th, Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Thompson’s Point two days later, the mighty Bob Dylan on the 16th, M83 at State on the 20th, and Silversun Pickups on the 25th. Not to mention The Avett Brothers play at the beginning of the month, and Beirut finishes.
The Wild Woods Festival is a musical pilgrimage
Confession time. Wild Woods Fest is not a Maine festival; alas, it takes place within our sister state to the near west. However, that does not make it any less Maine in aesthetic quality- it is a prime example of how our vibrant music and arts culture is imbued in our surroundings, and neighboring states. Three of our own brilliant musical artists, Producers Of The Trees, Snooze and House D.J Moses, will be making an appearance among some of the best musical talent to be heard in this country. Tauk, Brooklyn funk icons Turkuaz, Govinda and Ott. are all headlining this transformative festival. An enormous group of Mainers occupy this festival yearly, so ask your friends about carpooling, and make the pilgrimage. It’s only about two and a half hours away, and the hugely postive and welcoming vibe there is not something to be missed.
The Great North Festival is an unforgetable experience
At the top of the list, we have what many are hailing as the pinnacle of the New England festival circuit. John Hicks, executive producer at GNF and the previous proprietor of Carbon Vapor Productions, works closely with Chris Cote, the art director at the Great North Festival and marketing director of the promotions company known as Proper Crew to put on this absolutely insane icon of art and music in New England. The festival itself is an extremely grassroots organization, and has been built from the ground up by the artists themselves. It represents a collaborative community in the Maine area: the collective consciousness of the underground arts and music movement that many people in this state grew up surrounded by. With an eclectic mix of deadhead-vibe jam band goodness, funk, jazz, prog rock, and electronic music ranging from house to dubstep to glitch hop, this festival will satisfy all ears. Furthermore, the festival is acutely geared towards supporting visual artists, including visionary painters, VJ’s and fire spinners. Also, you can find almost every local artist listed above at this festival, alongside some huge names, including Earphunk, Jade Cicada, G-Nome Project, and Tractorbeam, a band including several members of the Disco Biscuits. Stay on the lookout for the Friday and Saturday headliner announcement on July 14th! Also, while you’re killing time until this festival starts on September 9th, stay plugged in by attending the Winterport Opera House’s Road to Great North event series! Cote will be hosting many big names from the lineup, including Viral Sound, Chromatropic, and Merther on July 2, and Kung Fu with Gater on Aug. 12. Cote says that “with W.O.H we are really pushing the limit on production value. We are currently building a huge projection structure to project content on, with several lasers and light movers. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”