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Style & Culture

Guide to The State Theatre

A look at upcoming shows in Portland and how to plan your trip

The recently reopened State Theatre in Portland has a growing lineup of diverse acts scheduled to perform in the next few months. There’s just one problem — it’s in Portland.
College crowd favorites such as mash-up DJ Girl Talk, dubstep master Bassnectar and indie veterans Bright Eyes are all set to make appearances this semester, and while the trip — at just over two hours — beats the journey to Boston, it can still be a hassle. But with the right planning, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of this great venue.
The full lineup as of right now is included at the end of this article. Here’s some help getting started if you see a name on the list you just can’t miss, even if it’s on a school night.

The City
The small waterfront city of Portland is known for its great food, art and music. Smaller bars, restaurants and venues are littered throughout the area surrounding the State Theatre, so it’s not hard to find stuff to do before or after the concert.
“I can’t say enough good things about Portland and things to do here,” said Lauren Wayne, talent buyer for the State Theatre. “You can make a whole week or weekend out of it if you’re coming down to see a show.”
According to Wayne, Portland is a walking city, so getting from one place to the next won’t be a problem. For more information, check out The Maine Campus guide printed in the Sept. 23, 2010 issue.

The Venue
After being shut down in 2006, the State reopened on Oct. 15, 2010, with a sold-out inaugural performance by My Morning Jacket. Since then, they’ve played host to a variety of artists, including sold-out performances by the likes of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Michael Franti and Spearhead.
The historic theater has been beautifully renovated and modernized, but still retains its character. According to Wayne, the venue’s capacity has increased since its earlier incarnation from 1,450 to 1,680 attendees.
There is standing room, as well as two levels of seating and plenty of bars throughout the building. Wayne said the State Theatre prides itself on being an all-ages venue, something she said Maine is unfortunately lacking enough of.

If you make the drive down, at the very least you’re going to need a place to park. According to Wayne, if you get into town early enough, there will be street parking — you don’t have to feed the meters after 6 p.m. or on Sundays.
There’s a parking garage attached to the neighboring Eastland Park Hotel, which Wayne said was the closest. However, the cheapest garage at $1 / hour, according to Wayne, is just down the street near the Holiday Inn By the Bay.
The most important thing to know is that some privately-held garages will close before the concert is over, so make sure to double check. Wayne said some concertgoers will return to their cars at 11:30 only to find out they can’t leave.
Also, you don’t have to ditch your coat in the car, as there is a coat check in the venue.

If you’re looking to save money, the best bet is to crash with a friend down in Portland or make the drive back late that night. If you don’t feel like driving at night, or want to hit up an afterparty, both neighboring hotels offer reasonable rates during the winter months.
The Eastland Park Hotel (207-775-5411) offers a University of Maine student rate of $92 / night for a single or a double room until June 15. The Holiday Inn By The Bay (207-775-2311) offers off-season rates starting at $109.99.

Wayne said some of the acts certainly cater to the college crowd, but as talent buyer for the theater, she strives to include a wide variety of artists.

“You can’t really pigeonhole people for what they like,” Wayne said.

She pointed to the dance music of Robyn, the hard rock of Buckcherry and the Comedians of Chelsea Lately tour as examples of the mix she is working toward. Below is the full schedule as of Jan. 12, but new artists are added often. Check for more information and to purchase tickets.

Comedians of Chelsea Lately
Fri., Jan. 28
8 p.m.
$20-$30, reserved seating

Natalia Kills, Diamond Rings
Sat., Jan. 29
7:30 p.m.
$21.50 in advance, $25 day of show

Saving Abel, My Darkest Days
Wed., Feb. 9
7 p.m.

Jagermeister Music Tour with Buckcherry
Hellyeah, All That Remains, The Damned Things
Sun., Feb. 20
7 p.m.
$30 in advance, $32 day of show

Flogging Molly
Moneybrother, The Drowning Men
Sat., Feb. 26
7:30 p.m.
$30 in advance, $32 day of show

Girl Talk
Max Tundra, Junk Culture
Mon., Feb. 28
8 p.m.

Bright Eyes
The Mynabirds
Fri., March 11
8 p.m.

Eliot Lipp
Thur., April 21
$22 in advance, $26 day of show

Sat., April 23
8 p.m.
$35 (On Sale Jan. 17)

Piano Men: The Music of Elton and Billy
Sat., May 7
7:30 p.m.
$16.50, reserved seating