This one goes out to my closest friends

Welp, The Maine have done it again!

the maine ac

As you may (or may not) recall, one of my very favourite bands, The Maine, put out an excellent album earlier this year called American Candy. It grew on me to an almost obsessive degree, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since seeing The Maine in early May. Not ones to sit idly by when they can be playing live music, The Maine recently embarked on their second North American tour of the year, only this time, their tour dates were split in half: the Free For All Tour and the American Candy Tour.

the maine

The Free For All, as you would suspect, means that the concert is literally free for anyone – they are quite possibly the first band to attempt such a crazy notion and, so far, it seems to be working in their favour. Unfortunately, the Free For All tour did not extend to Toronto – instead, they played their latest album in full, which I think is actually the better deal.

This was amazing for two reasons: one, because it gives us a chance to hear songs live that they wouldn’t normally play (non-singles like one of my favourites, “Am I Pretty?” or slow songs like “24 Floors”); and two, because one of my best concert memories is seeing The Maine play their third album, Pioneer, in full (December 2011).

They could have just played the album – all 40-something minutes of it – then dropped their instruments and walked away, but, being the extraordinary performers they are, they played the first nine songs in album order then played another six older songs before ending the night with the album closer, “Another Night on Mars”. The club was packed – they played the Mod Club which is the smallest venue I’ve seen them in – and it was sweaty and hot, but man, was it a good time. Despite the people who felt the need to have a drink every ten seconds (which resulted in them walking back and forth to the bar), the crowd was lively and energetic, and the band fed off of it, putting on one heck of a show.

Along for the ride was new band Beach Weather; composed of Nick Santino (formerly of A Rocket to the Moon, he just so happens to be another one of my favourite singer-songwriters), plus dudes from other bands including (possibly) The Technicolors (I honestly don’t remember who the other three guys are).

As I tweeted after their set: I love Nick Santino and I love a sexy bass line and, since Beach Weather has both, I think I might love them too. Check them out for some rock ‘n’ roll vibes!

All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Labour Day than with some of the hardest working dudes in the business.

Different tie, but I’m wearing the same suit

One of my favourite things in the world is going to a The Maine concert. I know, it’s awfully specific, but I love those guys so much, and they always put up on an incredible show.

We saw them for the seventh time on Saturday (technically eighth, since we attended an acoustic session/meet & greet with them in the morning).

The-Maine-band-2015

Garrett, Pat, John, Kennedy, Jared

I have to confess, we missed the first band, The Technicolors, because we were next door at Factory Girl eating chicken wings (highly recommend, by the way). But we saw The Technicolors in November when they opened for Nick Santino, so we didn’t feel too bad (plus those chicken wings were really good).

Next up was Knuckle Puck. We saw them last year (opening for Man Overboard), and I remember enjoying them. They’re like a non-Welsh version of Neck Deep – pure, unapologetic pop-punk. I think I downloaded them a while ago, but I’m definitely going to give them another listen!

They’re friends with Neck Deep, which makes so much sense.

The other opening band (and, arguably, a draw for a quarter of the crowd) was Real Friends. We’ve seen them too, when they opened for The Wonder Years last year (on my 24th birthday!). They’re like an angstier (angstyer?) version of The Wonder Years, a bit more whiny, and honestly, their songs all start to sound the same after a while. I don’t mind them, but I probably wouldn’t see them on their own i.e. if they’re not touring with another band I like.

The best part was when they played “Loose Ends” with Kennedy (from The Maine) joining them on guitar and the singer from Knuckle Puck came out for a verse. I love when bands join each other on stage!

Sidenote: both Real Friends and Knuckle Puck are a bit more “punk” than The Maine, who, especially in recent years, veer more towards the “rock” end of the spectrum, but I found it interesting that a) these bands were touring together and b) both opening bands emphasized how different their sound is compared to the headliners. I guess it was an “explanation” of sorts for people who aren’t necessarily pop-punk fans and were maybe thrown off by the openers, but I thought it was great that The Maine was bringing out a variety of bands and giving them a chance to play “bigger” venues.

Finally The Maine came on stage. This tour is in support of their new album, American Candy, so they played quite a few new songs. At the same time, they played some of their “classics”: John played “Into Your Arms” acoustic (and cracked jokes the entire time), and two of the songs near the beginning – “Run” and “Growing Up” – were reworked so that they flowed better with the new material.

One of the first The Maine songs I really loved.

They also played a cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (by The Rolling Stones), and it was incredible. I’ve heard them cover many random songs, but this one really fit with their current sound, and they did a fantastic job. It was also impressive that they managed to segue seamlessly into “Love & Drugs”.

Like I said, seeing The Maine live is one of my very favourite things in the world. They’re always so full of energy, they’re surprisingly funny (looking at their serious promo shots, you wouldn’t really think that they have a sense of humour, but they do), and of course, the music is always amazing. They’re one of those bands that I start missing as soon as the last chord fades out. If you’re into pop rock with meaningful lyrics, give these guys a chance. You won’t regret it.

So won’t you play something I know, a little old time rock n roll

Remember when A Rocket to the Moon was a band and then they broke up and their lead singer, Nick Santino, went solo? It was a bittersweet time in my life, but on the upside, I was able to see Nick play acoustic last night.

The Hard Luck Bar is not the  most attractive of venues, nor is it the easiest to get to – in fact, when we first looked it up, Google informed us that it didn’t exist – but it has phenomenal sound, especially for acoustic shows. Also, their security is incredibly efficient, which is so rare!

We missed most of the first band, Bitter Kids, a relatively local band (they’re from St. Catharines), but they did do a decent cover of The Maine’s “Into Your Arms”.

Next was The Technicolors – or, at least, the one guy from The Technicolors. They’re the most recent band to work with 8123 (which is the “label” for The Maine, Nick Santino, and pretty much everyone else who was on this tour except for Brian Marquis, probably).

Austin Gibbs went on and I was reminded of that other time when I saw him open for The Maine. I didn’t love him then, and, unfortunately, I don’t love him now. I think part of his lack of appeal is due to the fact that he looks like a paedophile from the seventies. Also, it felt like his set lasted twice as long as everyone else’s. But a lot of people in the crowd seemed to enjoy him, so there’s that.

I’ve heard of Brian Marquis, but have never actually seen him before. As the very loud girls sitting at our table suggested, he has a bit of Seth Rogen vibe, but has a decent voice – a bit of Patrick Stump pre-Save Rock and Roll, in that “I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying, but I kinda like it” way.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the first few opening bands, I was stoked to see This Century again. They’re a lot of fun, even though only half the band was present. They also had what I can only assume is a magical microphone: Joel (the singer) would lay down some sick beats (by which I mean he’d “beatbox”), and I guess it was somehow recorded because then he could play it on loop for the rest of the song. I don’t know, I couldn’t see what the mic was attached to, but presumably it was some sort of recording device. Either way, they’re quite dance-y, even while acoustic.

Finally, it was time for Nick Santino. I love him, he has a soothing voice and is a great lyricist, but, since most of his songs are very slow, it can be difficult to keep your eyes open. I’m pretty sure Ro fell asleep at one point (not surprising). In between his slow jams, however, he would interact with the crowd and he is surprisingly funny. My favourite part was a cross between when he pointed out that he was wearing a Slipknot shirt (pretty sure Nick Santino’s solo album is the polar opposite to anything Slipknot), and when he decided he would create a rap for This Century’s “Slow Dance Night”. The best lines were the beginning: it’s a slow dance night in Hollywood, I’m with my friends and I’m feelin’ good. It’s probably funnier if you could hear him, but it was definitely entertaining at the time.

An excellent end to the show was when all of the opening bands joined Nick onstage for “Long Way Home”. The guy from The Technicolors had a guitar solo, Brian Marquis briefly led the crowd in the “la la la’s”, Austin Gibbs scatted, and Joel from This Century sang backup. It basically looked like they were having a party onstage, and you could really see how much they all love making music.