Fall Music Preview: Stay positive

The local concert calendar is filled to capacity
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  September 15, 2010

BEFORE OK GO Hold Steady, at Port City Music Hall, October 19.

The face of the local nightlife landscape undergoes a major change in the form of a renewal this autumn, as the State Theatre’s exhaustively maligned absence ends on October 15, with 10 fall concerts on their docket already. But that’s not the only new venue to look out for. A more recently-departed venue, Biddeford’s Hogfarm Studios Annex, will be replaced by The Oak + The Ax, run by some New York underground-rock expats; the space reopens with a fine schedule on October 12. They each host some of the season’s most exciting shows; here’s a list of most of them.

Offering a refreshingly socially conscious voice in the edgy Jamaican dancehall scene, Capleton stops by the Asylum on September 23, the day before Sheryl Crow, whose recent turn towards soul-inspired lite-pop has become well near unavoidable on the radio dial, hits the Cumberland County Civic Center. That Saturday (September 25), local rock dominates the headlines, as deathpunk magnates Covered in Bees play a final concert (also a CD-release) we worried we might never see.

Brooklyn’s Japanther, the rare band to bring a full-on circle pit to SPACE Gallery, return to the venue on September 27 with promises of another (they’re joined by the also-excellent Screaming Females). That same night, Mark Olson of alt-country greats the Jayhawks performs at One Longfellow Square. On September 29, Liza Minnelli follows up her Sex and the City 2 cameo with a gig opening a formidable Portland Ovations season at Merrill Auditorium. The following night, Arrested Development fans will feel more at home with Murder By Death, an ambitious indie-rock band from Bloomington, Indiana.

A month of apples and ghouls begins with another local must-see, the latest CD-release concert by Darien Brahms, who brings Brenda to Port City Music Hall on October 1. That very Friday, the virtuoso guitarist Marnie Stern brings her punk/experimental barnstormers, dripping with incendiary technique, to Portland’s Venue. The next night, another country starlet worth raving about — Miranda Lambert — plays on the Bangor Waterfront. After a week-long breath, the rest of the month provides a probably-unprecedented volume of must-see shows.

Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, who have caused a stir at smaller local venues, graduate to the big time with Portland Ovations at Merrill Auditorium on October 8, on a night when the unstoppable Erin McKeown returns to Portland for a show at One Longfellow Square, and when Soulive begin a two-night stint at Port City Music Hall. While that ends, Bebe Buell — former Playboy centerfold, mother of Liv Tyler, and the inspiration for Kate Hudson’s character in Almost Famous — brings her original music to Empire Dine and Dance.

For a band who make such winding, challenging albums, it never ceases to surprise how tight and awe-inspiring Deerhoof are on stage. They’ll return to SPACE Gallery on October 11 with Jamie Stewart and his prolific, outstandingly idiosyncratic art-rock outfit Xiu Xiu. The next night, legendary punk rockers Dead Kennedys (with one original member, and some old and new replacements) come to the Asylum, and the Chapin Sisters, perhaps currently best known as backing members of She & Him, come to One Longfellow Square. Also on October 12, The Oak + The Ax opens with a set by synth-pop wizard Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. And with a long-overdue new album to sample from, quintessential (at least pre-“Stacy’s Mom”) power-pop band Fountains of Wayne debut at Port City Music Hall on October 14. That same night, Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper make for an imposing double-bill at Cumberland County Civic Center.

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