On the evening of Feb. 20, local rock band, Wyld Lyfe, performed in front of a large crowd at the Black Bear Brewing Company Taproom in downtown Orono.
The band, which has been gaining attention in the Orono music scene, has been making music for four years, since lead vocalist and guitarist, Sean Randall, and drummer Jackson Cromwell first met and began doing jam sessions together in 2012.
“We met in music theory class four years ago,” Cromwell said. “It was [Randall’s] freshman year, my sophomore year, and he actually thought I was someone else. I didn’t know him at all. He thought I was Dexter, who now plays saxophone in the band. So he sat down next to me, started talking to me and immediately realized that I wasn’t who he thought I was, but we started this conversation. He had a skateboard, and I like to skateboard. So I asked him, ‘Do you like skateboarding?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah,’ and I was like, ‘Do you like rock and roll?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah,’ and then I was like, ‘let’s start a rock and roll band.’”
“It was just drums, guitar and vocals and we’ve been adding members over time. Now we’re up to five members,” Randall said. “We added saxophone, second guitar and backup vocals and our sound has filled out and developed a bit.”
Bassist, Colin Whitton, who entered the band a little over a year ago, explained how the sound of the band has gone through numerous changes each time the band has expanded.
“The newer material has been written to be played by all five people, versus the old stuff where we had to change it around a little bit to add parts for the new additions,” Randall said.
With their growth, Wyld Lyfe has been growing their fan base as well. In the past year, the band has been booking gigs in Orono, as well as neighboring towns at venues such as the Boomhouse in Old Town. The band even had the opportunity to open for Boston-based indie band, Vundabar, in the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) on the University of Maine campus last semester.
“It was a cool opportunity, and [the IMRC] was a cool space,” Cromwell said.
“We’ve been reaching out to most of the venues around here,” Whitton said. “I think we reached out to the Taproom, and I think around Halloween they tried to book us, but there was a conflict where we couldn’t do it. So I think that sat like that for a while, and then it came up where they offered us a show, and we took it.”
The band’s performance at the Black Bear Brewing Company Taproom started off mellow, but as the night went on, the band progressively started to play songs with a heavier sound and that were more in-tune to the band’s rock vibe. The crowd reflected the band’s performance as well. As more people started strolling in after a couple of songs, the band began to rock out on the Taproom’s stage.
With Wyld Lyfe and other bands performing at local venues in the area, the Orono music scene is starting to take off.
“The Taproom has built a stage, and the Boomhouse is trying to get more young musicians there regardless of how popular they are,” Cromwell said. “And that’s what is cool about those guys. They’re like, ‘You have a band? Sweet, come play!’”
The Orono music scene is taking its own do-it-yourself route and building upon a small underground community, known as Orono Flow. Orono Flow was started by UMaine student, Alex Cuadros, and is a group comprised of local musicians, artists and other performers. The collaborative is a way for artists to connect with one another and find support. It also serves as a medium for artists to play their music.
“I came out to the show tonight because I love Wyld Lyfe,” Cuadros said. “I have an obligation to support bands, especially local bands. Some of their first shows were in my basement.”
“I think that Orono Flow is the best thing to have happened to the Orono music scene since I’ve been here,” Cromwell said. “When I came here, there were acoustic sessions happening places, but Alex Cuadros has really stepped up the game. Like having shows in her basement … that’s a lot of work. I think [Orono Flow] is going to a really good place.”
“I think it is awesome that bars and restaurants in the area are having more local bands perform,” Cuadros said. “I love seeing bands perform in my basement, but I can’t support that. It takes a load off of my shoulders. Even though it takes away from the basement vibe, this [the Taproom show] is more important to the band’s growth. Orono Flow is important for the little guys in the local music scene.”
“I think Orono Flow is the future,” Cromwell said. “I think it’s a cool movement because it represents something. I think a lot of musicians just want to get paid, and when we are on tour we have to get paid because we need to make it to the next place, and we need to eat … But as far as people having a good time, someone needs to provide space, so that’s been huge. I don’t know where it’s going, but I like it.”