The energetic rock of Bleachers makes people – including the band members – want to move. Evan Smith is therefore delighted to have the band playing in large outdoor venues this summer.
He’s even more excited that one of those shows, at Thompson’s Point in Portland on July 22, is within walking distance of his home.
“After going over a year without performing live (during the pandemic), I really appreciate the two-way street we’re creating with the audience much more,” said Smith, 39. “In this band, you never play for people, you create something together, an energy.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Smith moved to Maine from Brooklyn, New York in 2013 with his wife, Megan Smith, who grew up in Cape Elizabeth. He is a multi-instrumentalist who has recorded with David Byrne, St. Vincent, Pink, Lord and Taylor Swift, to name a few. He often records his parts in his home studio in Portland.
His versatility as a musician can be seen on Swift’s massive hit album “Folklore”, released in 2020. On the song “Illicit Affairs”, he played accordion, saxophones, electric guitar and keyboards and sang background vocals. On “The Lakes” he played saxophone, keyboards, flute, clarinet and bass.
Shortly after Smith moved to Maine, a musician friend recommended him to producer and musician Jack Antonoff, who had been in the bands Fun and Steel Train. Antonoff said he was starting an indie pop band, Bleachers, and wanted Smith to join.
Antonoff is the main songwriter and creative force of the group. High octane music is heavily influenced by late 80s pop and John Hughes high school movies. The group has released three studio albums.
The band’s latest album, “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night,” was released last July and has a different feel, Smith said. Many songs were recorded live in the studio, with all the musicians present. On previous Bleachers albums, there were fewer band studio sessions, Smith said.
“After a year of not touring and doing everything remotely, it was really intense to all record together in the studio,” Smith said. “It was really a gift to be able to record together like that.”
The album went to No. 3 on Billboards Rock Albums chart and its Alternative Albums chart.
Smith says the last time he and Bleachers played in Portland was inside the State Theater. He’s thrilled to be able to put on a Bleachers show at Thompson’s Point, surrounded by water, historic buildings and food trucks. Smith particularly likes the historic train shed roof that shades part of the property.
“I’ve waited a long time for the chance to play there,” Smith said. “It’s such a cool place. The fact that I can walk there makes it really special to me.
Bleachers, July 22, Thompson’s Point, Portland. Tickets are $50 at statetheatreportland.com.
OTHER SUMMER CONCERT HIGHLIGHTS
Here are some other great summer rock concerts scheduled for Maine this summer, including some acts that have Maine ties and others that are worth checking out no matter where they’re from.
Crow was a constant radio presence in the 90s. She had five Top 40 songs between 1994 and 1996: “All I Wanna Do”, “Strong Enough”, “Can’t Cry Anymore”, “If It Makes You Happy” and “Everyday is a Winding Road”. The singer-songwriter has won nine Grammy Awards and has sold over 35 million albums. His 2019 album “Threads” features collaborations with some of his musical heroes, including Stevie Nicks, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and others. During his show in Portland, Keb’ Mo’ will be the first part.
Sheryl Crow, July 13, Thompson’s Point, Portland, $50, statetheatreportland.com.
Guster on the ocean
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, rock band Guster are back with their fourth annual Guster on Ocean Maine Weekend, with the big show on August 13 at Thompson’s Point. The weekend is always a homecoming for the band’s vocalist and guitarist, longtime Portland resident Adam Gardner. In addition to playing music, Gardner co-founded Portland-based nonprofit Reverb, which works to inspire fans, bands and venue operators to recycle and make gigs and festivals more eco-friendly. The weekend includes a kickoff show at the State Theater on August 12, but it’s already sold out. The show at Thompson’s Point includes Shovels and Rope, Amythyst Kiah and Maine artists Darlingside and Pete Kilpatrick. There’s also a B stage with comedy as well as a Guster Q&A session, kids’ zone, and food trucks.
Guster on the Ocean, Aug. 13, Thompson’s Point, Portland, $55-$100 (VIP), $10 for kids 13 and under, statetheatreportland.com or ontheoceanfest.com.
Best known for founding The White Stripes, White will host The Supply Chain Issues Tour at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena in August. White is a 12-time Grammy winner who released his fourth solo studio album in April, “Fear of the Dawn,” and is set to release his fifth, “Entering Heaven Alive,” in July. At his show in Portland, singer-songwriter Cautious Clay will be the opening act.
Jack White, Aug. 23, Cross Insurance Arena, Portland, $42-$102, crossarenaportland.com.
The members of Ghost of Paul Revere, one of Maine’s most popular bands, announced in April that they were splitting up after 11 years together. But fans will have the opportunity to say goodbye to the most recent Ghostland festival, which the band began hosting in 2014. The self-proclaimed “holler folk” band not only won over fans in Maine and across the country, but also left its mark. on the history of the state. In 2019, Governor Janet Mills signed legislation declaring the band’s song “The Ballad of the 20th Maine” the official state ballad. The song is about the crucial role of the 20th Maine Regiment in winning the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Other bands on the Ghostland schedule include Hiss Golden Messenger, Marco Benevento, and GoldenOak.
Ghostland, Sept. 3, Thompson’s Point, Portland, $41, children 3 and under free, statetheatreportland.com.
One of rock’s most legendary bands, Aerosmith are still touring after some 52 years. In 1978, the Boston-based rockers played at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland – then only a year old – with Golden Earring of “Radar Love” fame as their opener. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Aerosmith, September 4, Maine Savings Amphitheatre, Bangor, $55-$750, waterfrontconcerts.com.