By hosting in-store appearances before concerts, Orlando record shop Park Avenue Compact Discs frequently allows fans to experience a whole day of their favorite bands. By combining a perfected organizational system and a friendly staff, fans are not only treated to an acoustic performance, but also a meet and greet, with enough time to arrive at the venue for the concert later that night. Last Saturday, Arizona rock band The Maine ended their nationwide American Candy tour in this way.
Starting at noon, the line for The Maine’s appearance at Park Avenue stretched the length of the strip mall. Even with hundreds of people waiting near the entrance, the store was still open for normal business, displaying the staff’s expertise in these handling events. Guests with wristbands gained priority access by purchasing the band’s new album, American Candy, in CD or vinyl format, a small price to pay for the intimate fan experience to follow.
With knickknacks like posters, lights, and music memorabilia encasing the walls, Park Avenue’s unique atmosphere tingled with excitement as fans inhabited what seemed like every single inch of the compact space. The stage was set up in the righthand side of the store, elevating The Maine and giving the entire crowd a decent view of the acoustic performance.
The band played three, hearty songs, beginning with the opening track from American Candy, “Miles Away.” A personal favorite, The Maine surprised fans with “Sad Songs” from their previous release Forever Halloween. During the last song, the ebullient new single “English Girls,” lead singer John O’Callaghan turned the mic around, allowing the audience to sing verses at the end. Everyone knew the words, encapsulating an immense amount of energy in the room. The performance was short yet satisfying, sprinkled with humor from O’Callaghan throughout. Obviously talented musicians, The Maine could easily play a full, entertaining set acoustic in that environment.
Even though they still needed to commute to the venue and soundcheck for that evening’s concert, The Maine met every fan present, with or without a wristband, despite the time constraint. Clear from the amount of smiles, band, fans, and staff alike were all extremely happy after the seamlessly successful event.
Five piece rock band The Maine have managed to stay relevant past their beginnings in the scene era to produce a series of solid albums, amassing new fans and keeping old fans. The latest release, American Candy (see the Catalyst’s review here), is an ideal summer record, proving that the band is here to stay.
There was a mass exodus from Park Avenue to Downtown Orlando’s music venue The Beacham as fans geared up for the band’s concert, which was the last stop on their successful American Candy tour. The Maine brought along indie rock band The Technicolors and pop punkers Knuckle Puck and Real Friends for the tour, a diverse lineup to say the least. However, diverse is preferred because it adds variety and excitement to the show.
With more than three hours until the start of the concert, a line of people covered the length of a city block. Because The Beacham promptly turns into a nightclub once concerts end, doors were early, at around 5 p.m. The Technicolors took the stage around 5:30 p.m., a “matinee” show as frontman Brennan Smiley put it, and woke up the late afternoon audience with a combination of mesmerizing instrumentals and melodies that flowed like honey. Among the likes of Bastille and Imagine Dragons, their smooth tracks fit nicely with current indie sounding music that is creeping its way into mainstream media, envisioning a bright future for the band.
As soon as Illinois natives Knuckle Puck burst on the stage, the crowd swayed with a wave of energy. Security started working overtime as crowd surfers piled over the barriers. Fans who knew the lyrics belted them back to charismatic lead singer Joe Taylor, who fed off their ardency, creating a super jaunty set made for someone who enjoys watching a good pop punk band.
After personally seeing Real Friends three times, the band never fails to impress. Dubbed “Illinois’ sad boys,” Real Friends’ unembellished music speaks for itself, calling for a concise performance that places the songs at the forefront. However, just because the set was simple does not mean energy was missing from the room; security was constantly pelted with crowd surfers reaching out for frontman Dan Lambton’s hand throughout the show. Since it was the last day of tour, pranks between the bands were abound. During the ballad “I’ve Given Up On You,” members from The Maine, The Technicolors, and Knuckle Puck joined Real Friends on stage and slow danced. Fans erupted in cheers as O’Callaghan planted a kiss on Lambton’s cheek. When the next song, “Sixteen,” started, Lambton asked the audience to slow dance with their friends, turning the concert floor into a scene from junior prom.
“All the bands were amazing live, my favorite being Real Friends,” concert attendee Katelyn Thomas said. “Didn’t disappoint at all.”
Eventually, fans got incredibly pushy, trying to position themselves as close to the front of the stage as possible. When The Maine’s first song began, again “Miles Away,” it was as if the room got hit with a bolt of lightning, like everyone had been waiting months for that moment. The tsunami of energy was unexpected at first, but it became understandable based on The Maine’s performance. Every song had an awesome instrumental that, even among the chaos on the floor, captivated attention. The Maine is an exemplar of a band that makes attending live shows worth the experience. All the songs were transformed into live versions, filled with depth and vitality, enhanced from the record.
“It was my second time seeing The Maine,” American Candy tour guest Brian Reddy said. “They were even better then I remember.”
The set focused on new songs without abandoning older material, forming a nice array of The Maine’s extensive catalogue of albums. O’Callaghan reimagined “Into Your Arms,” the only song played from the band’s first record Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, with an acoustic guitar. He thanked the fans for enabling him to play that song for now eight years right before, hysterically, messing up the lyrics. O’Callaghan’s smile, filled with charisma, and the audience’s chuckling turned the accident into a special moment, shrinking the relatively large venue into one, unified space. During the ballad, members of the other bands began playing with dice and cards to the left of the stage and jokingly asked O’Callaghan if he would like to place a bet.
Calling everyone “a bunch of cool cats,” O’Callaghan is a fantastic frontman, radiating this genuine and tangible persona that is time machined from the 60s. He revealed to the crowd how good it feels to be alive these past few months; about how, at the start of this new year, he was sick of being a “sad, emo kid,” relaying that even musicians are not exempt from the kind of struggles their fans experience on a daily basis. All the bands seemed overly gracious for their fans, continuously telling the floor to give “a round of applause for yourselves.”
The Maine topped off their set with a fun cover of The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” before a Third Eye Blind cover in which each of the band members switched instruments with one another. Suddenly guitarist Jared Monaco was singing, O’Callaghan was on guitar, Pat Kirch was no longer behind the drumset. The performance ended with their most popular, catchy single “Right Girl,” a sky full of American Candy themed confetti, and hugs from all the bands on the tour.
“I thought it was a great show,” Reddy said. “I also was reminded of how great Real Friends and Knuckle Puck are.”
“Overall a really good concert,” Thomas said. “I got introduced to Knuckle Puck and The Technicolor’s. Both of which I had never listen to before. But super fun! Music is rad.”