Make America Rock Again – State Theatre, Portland, Maine, September 18, 2016

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Walking up to the State Theatre I noticed the lack of crowd that I was used to seeing wrapped around the building, waiting to get in, but then again there were two other shows going on this night as well, and I am sure that contributed to the lower ticket sales. With that said, I was happy to see the floor fill up rather nicely, and those who were here came to rock.

The first band on was Tantric, from Kentucky, and did well to set the pace for this evening’s entertainment. They were loud, played fast, and gave the audience a dose of what they needed. Their set, like those to follow, was short and strictly timed with a large digital clock off stage right screaming away the minutes. Unfortunately for Tantric, the guy running the fog machine must have fallen asleep with it on. There was so much smoke it had the asthmatics running to the doors for oxygen. The lighting for their set was also not all that great, what I would call Slayer lighting – all saturated reds, and greens, sometimes blue – but with all that fog it was really hard to photograph anything.

The set changes were made quickly by the use of one drum kit, and the same amps used for all the acts. About the only thing that changed were the cymbals, very smart on their part. However, I did miss the different logos on the drum heads.

Next to take the stage were 12 Stones from Louisiana. These guys carried on the energy that the first band started and were a lot of fun to photograph. Again, the fog was thick but better than it was for the first act. 12 Stones borrowed Trapt’s Ty Fury to take over on lead guitar, and he did an excellent job at the task. Both he and the singer were my personal favorites to photograph as they seemed to know their angles and naturally had good poses.

Another quick change and Crazy Town came on. Earlier in the evening I spoke to one of the security guys, and he was excited to have met Shifty, one of the singers for Crazy Town. When I explained I had no idea who that was he said, “You know the guy who was on Celebrity Rehab.” As I thought back I recalled the name and that the guy was a train wreck, the one smoking crack on the roof top of the rehab. You know it’s pretty bad when your biggest claim to fame is Celebrity Rehab. That said, when these guys took the stage, the game was changed. The energy that was at maybe a 9.5 went to 11. I have to admit I had my doubts when I saw the DJ station being rolled out onto the stage, but these guys were really fun and really had the audience moving.

Allow me to expand my summation of the band for a moment, a bit of a digression, we will call it – the following night I was back at the State to shoot another show, I mentioned to two of the security guys and a sound guy how good Crazy Town was live. They didn’t have the same sort of experience. They said the two singers were punks and after they repeatedly asked them not to stand on the small speaker enclosures at the front of the stage, the guys would do it anyway. Apparently these guys ruined a $15,000 set of PA speakers at a previous show and had to buy them. The State wasn’t ready to give up their’s. You may notice at the beginning of the photo set, the speakers are there and then later on they are not. That was because half way through the show, during Crazy Town’s set, techs ran out on stage and removed the speakers. The moral of this story, if there is one, be a professional or stay in rehab.

Saving Abel were next. These guys are from Mississippi and have been up this way a couple of times before. They are fun to photograph and put on a really good show. The music was right on par from what came before, sans Crazy Town which was more rap than metal. Saving Abel were surely a favorite among the crowd. The band, led by singer Jared Weeks had the fans eating out of their hands. Good energy, good music, and fun to watch – what more could you ask for?

Trapt came on next, and this meant the return of guitarist Ty Fury. Trapt were good, and again lighting was better. Ty ‘s guitar work shined the brightest in this band, but the musicianship in general was good throughout the band. This being my first time seeing the act I was surprised at how many members of the audience knew their music and sang along, practically every word of some of their songs.

Ending the evening was Saliva. Saliva was maybe the toughest act of the night to photograph…yeah, once again the fog machine operator had the machine working overtime and the color choices from the light guy were awful, at least by photography standards. On the bright side, the show was great. Saliva is one of two bands in the show that I had shot before, and I really like their music. They had great energy. I only wish that The State Theatre’s regular lighting guy had been at the helm as the stage show was really dark and shadowy and again, far too much fog. And I’m not the only one, just in case you think I am making a big deal of the extreme fog vibe for the show. I heard fans on their way out mention that they could hardly see the band through the smoke.

All in all, fog aside the show was great, every band held their own and owned the stage as their digital nemesis on the side of the stage ticked away the minutes of their sets.

Alien Ant Farm were listed to perform but did not make the trip. Word was that “their bus broke down,” but it was overheard from others with the tour that the band didn’t think it would be worth their while to make the trip. Too bad really as myself others were looking forward to seeing them play.

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