On April 15, 2023, the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine hosted a concert series of Maine-based indie bands. In collaboration with lead singer of Orono band Midnight Breakfast, Jennifer Shevlin-Fernandes, the goal of the performance was to bring different independent musical artists together and showcase the variety of sound produced in Maine.
“I felt there are so many wonderful opportunities for the local music scene to be involved with the university and performing arts venues north of Portland that hasn’t really been tapped into yet,” Shevlin-Fernandes said. “In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in new bands in the Bangor/Orono area, and we’d like to give them another platform to showcase their talent and attract new audiences. Furthermore, we’d like to bring more events to the CCA that students may be interested in attending and show that the university has much to offer outside of traditional ensembles and activities.”
The event has been in the making since November 2022 and is the first collaboration with the Collins Center for the Arts and local bands.
“In the past, musicians have collaborated with the University of Maine Student Government, Maine Day activities, and Homecoming events. Outside of the Maine Day Event hosted by Student Entertainment, I believe this is the first event at UMaine that includes bands from Orono and Maine only. The Maine Event usually brings in a big name from out of state,” Shevlin-Fernandes said.
The lineup consisted of Orono band Gnocchi and Midnight Breakfast. To round out the night, Rigometrics and Goldenoak came up from Portland to share the sound they’ve been crafting. Gnocchi had an obscure sound; their genres bounced back and forth from a Backstreet Lovers sound to a pedal-distorted Jack White sound. As an indie band, it is a bold choice to bounce around from genre to genre This is one of Gnocchi’s defining features.
Midnight Breakfast’s consistent soul and funk sound was more distinctive. The band expressed an incredible amount of talent. Rigometrics was equally impressive. It was interesting to see another young band like Greta Van Fleet try to reignite the Rock and Roll sound of the 70s.
The night was mellow. The auditorium was unfortunately not as filled as it should have been. Many attendees remained in their seats with the younger, more musically dedicated crowd taking the opportunity to jump up in the pit and dance. This was expected by performers.
“The event is more of a set performance, with each group having a specified time to perform. We don’t anticipate that this will be an event where people go wild; it’s a concert where people can sit and, if they want to, dance to the music playing throughout the hall. I’m sure the artists will be involved with the crowd,” Shevlin-Fernandes said.
Shevlin-Fernades also mentions that they would like to see more annual events in the fall since most UMaine music events occur in the spring. This is also something that local band Milk St. has been trying to do as well, trying to make local music available to a wider audience that aren’t limited to bars for 21 and over or house parties. Music is a shared activity that allows one to let loose and have fun; future events will hopefully inspire audience members to have the courage to have fun and dance.
“All of the bands are from all over the State of Maine. We felt it was imperative to showcase the talented musicians of Pine Tree State because we have so many! Three of the four bands feature current or former students from the University of Maine. This year, we are pleased to announce that 50% of the lineup includes bands that women front. I am passionate about having half the lineup led by women for this event. It is refreshing and exciting to see more gender diversity represented in an industry where diversity can be challenging to find,” Shevlin-Fernandes said.
It was surprising to see the amount of bands Maine has as well as the wide variety of genres they span. The four bands that performed were only a scratch off the surface of the Maine music scene. The desire the bands have to reach out to audiences in a rural state is the first step in creating a unique music scene and is resemblant of scenes that started major movements in the past. To be a part of the beginning is an indescribable feeling.
“We want to thank the Collins Center for the Arts for supporting musicians from the State of Maine, the technical and administrative crew, and the bands for their musicianship, kindness, and willingness to be a part of something so special, Kae Northway for the event artwork, the University of Maine for providing a space for musicians to collaborate and grow. For more information about the bands, please check them out on social media!” Shevlin-Fernandes said.