w/ Beach Weather
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
April 7, 2017
Photos and writing by Brie Heinrichs, and edited by Jared Stossel.
There are few things more special than getting to experience a sold out show on a band’s album release day. Self-proclaimed “emo” band The Maine released their sixth studio album this Friday, Lovely Little Lonely while making their way through San Francisco for a sold out show at Great American Music Hall.
The day began early for the guys in The Maine, who scheduled a whole slew of pop up shops around the United States for fans to get their hands on their newest album. The Maine set up shop right in the middle of the beautiful, historic Cable Car neighborhood in San Francisco. The band came out to welcome fans, talk about the album and have a good time before soundcheck.
The Maine are still on the rise of celebrating their ten-year anniversary as a band. Back in January, their label, 8123, hosted a massive festival in their home state of Arizona. As fans pour in from the rainy streets, there is a palpable sense of respect and adoration in the air, one unreachable by most artists. Fans happily buzz, awaiting both bands on the roster tonight — their openers are label mates Beach Weather — with talk about the recent festival celebrating the band’s decade of success, the new album and other amazing feats. Many fans drove several miles for these Californian dates, with one Arizona-native celebrating the evening as her one hundredth time seeing The Maine in concert. And while one hundred times is damn impressive, several other fans were marking off their twentieth, thirtieth, and fiftieth time seeing The Maine; a true testament to the everlasting impact this band has on their fans who are willing to catch a train, plane or drive for over ten hours, whatever means necessary, not to miss a show, especially one commemorating an album release.
Later in the evening, Beach Weather took the stage with an eruption of applause from eager fans. They kick right off with “Someone’s Disaster,” a track from their latest 2016 EP, Chit Chat. You can tell frontman Nick Santino feels at ease on stage as he sings and dances around with the crowd. In between songs, he jokes about the band’s traveling troubles — turns out they were stuck in a blizzard for over two hours on their way to San Francisco from Seattle. A fan who followed the same route to be at the show tonight yells out ‘me too!’ and she and Santino have a one-on-one despite the sea of fans. “You too? No way! Don’t mind us, we’re just having a conversation,” Santino teases as he flashes a toothy grin.
The band continues to tease and joke with fans, all in good nature as they pull out songs from their debut and sophomore EPs. They talk about how good it is to be back in San Francisco and how their last visit, two years ago, was also with The Maine, playing a sold out show at Bottom Of The Hill. “It’s good to see you,” Santino says with such fervor as he scans over the crowd, making the sentiment feel that much more personal as he makes eye contact with as many fans as possible.
“If you guys want to hang out with some sweaty dudes after our set…well, you’re in luck!” The atmosphere never loses it’s playfulness as Beach Weather power through a setlist longer than they’re used to (the tour has a third band — The Mowglis — who could not make it to the San Francisco date). Although, had Santino and bassist Reeve Powers not joked about how they would have usually been finished ‘four songs ago’, it would have never been known. They perform with such a familiarity, the perfect blend of their heavier-sounding songs (like “Swoon” or the bass-prominent “New Skin” from their debut EP What A Drag) paired with their lighter, more upbeat numbers (specifically “Chit Chat” off their 2016 EP). They end their set with the song “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” but not before Santino introduces his bandmates — drummer Austin Scates, bassist Reeve Powers and touring guitarist Joseph Pantaleo, who jokes with Santino that they’ve been friends since the tenth grade, back when they wore Early November t-shirts and had hair down pass their shoulders, dreaming of playing sold out shows.
There is little preparation needed to get the stage ready for The Maine, as their hardworking friends and crew put final touches on their aesthetic with roses adorning every possible surface, scattered amongst the stage. Moments later, The Maine emerges, instruments in hand and frontman John O’Callaghan is in his Sunday best, a complete floral suit and bowtie only he could pull off, complementing the entire theme of their album.
They begin the night with the brand new track, “Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu”, continuing with a setlist that perfectly blends old favorites, new tracks and never-before-heard live numbers that fans could only dream of hearing in person.
Artificial clouds illuminate overhead as the band plays each song in succession from their albums (Lovely Little Lonely into American Candy into Forever Halloween). A spark ignites within the crowd as they perform “Like We Did,” an older track that embodies the very same sentiment the band never lets die: that 8123 is much more than a number, a label, an idea, a band and their fans — 8123 is family. With the chorus' opening lyrics ‘you were dancing to your favorite song // all my friends they were singing along // we got down, we got high // the moment felt so right’ this could easily be marked as the crescendo of the show, even at just three songs in. The band emits an energy fit to be feasted upon.
The bright lights and sporadic dance moves seem to be never-ending as the band plays a fan favorite, “(Un)Lost”, from 2015's American Candy. Bassist Garrett Nickelsen performs with such giddy exuberance, jumping and dancing around with O’Callaghan on the small stage. It’s almost a wonder the headstock of his bass guitar avoided contact with the enraptured fans pressed up against the barricade.
O’Callaghan personalizes the night, making the show that much more intimate, during “My Heroine.” The Great American Music Hall is doused in blood red lights as the band jams out, elongating the track as John O’Callaghan sings “We’re in San Francisco / That’s where all the freaks go” as proud Bay Area fans scream the words back to him. During this flirtatious interaction with the crowd, O’Callaghan notices a woman to the right of the stage, right up in front row… “Is that white wine? In the front row? Only in San Francisco!” he jokes.
The band plays a section of their set composed of pre-Forever Halloween tracks — including “The Way We Talk” (from the band's first EP released in 2007) and “We All Roll Along” (from their 2008 debut full-length Can't Stop, Won't Stop). The latter is a song that has never lost it’s meaning. The band’s mantra, “8123 means everything to me”, was first introduced in this track. It's a line repeated year after year after their shows, and it still grows more meaningful with every performance. They tease that these songs were some of the earliest they ever recorded, songs from the MySpace days, as the band jokes “…some of you are too young to remember MySpace…and some of us are getting too old to remember MySpace, too…".
O’Callaghan comments on how the air reeks of something a little musky, pungent, but good. He says that now would be the time to take a puff of your inhaler while the band slows things down. The lights dim and O’Callaghan grabs a guitar for a moment many fans probably didn’t see coming. Remember when we mentioned they performed songs this tour that fans only dreamt about hearing live? This was what we were referring to, as the band began performing a beloved track titled “Raining In Paris” from their 2013 EP Imaginary Numbers. White lights twinkle behind the band for this intimate performance, made only that much more memorable as we watch an elderly couple (who later explained to us through broken English that they were visiting from France) sway and sing along with a young group of female fans on the balcony, taking in the entire, beautiful moment.
“We can't cry anymore in this room. This next songs about girls. It’s about boys. I know it's getting sweaty.. We’re all dehydrated. We'll all drink something together after!” O’Callaghan promises the crowd as the band has no trouble recovering from the slower, more intimate "Raining In Paris" performance. They launch right into “Girls Do What They Want” another throwback from Can't Stop, Won't Stop. Tonight’s performance was joined with a sixth member of the band as John brings up an older gentleman from the side stage. He is welcomed with a number of hugs from the band and introduced to the crowd as simply ‘dad.’ We quickly learn his name is Sean — father of Caitlyn who was pointed out front-and-center in the crowd.
“At my first concert…my Dad, you know what he told me? He said fuck off and don’t do black tar heroin,” O’Callaghan shares with the crowd. (Editor's note: John, I bet you were serious when you said this, and I would have still laughed my ass off had I been at the show. Hope you're well, brother.) Whether he was being silly or completely serious, it’s hard to tell. We learn that Sean waited in a lawn chair, almost twelve hours before the doors even opened in the San Francisco rain, for his daughter to be one of the first in line for the show that night. Which makes it only fitting that the band would welcome him on stage to help sing their songs. O’Callaghan admits that they were told by his daughter that Sean hates mosh pits and people… “so, we avoided the mosh pit….and put you in front of a whole hell of a lot of people!” John says with a grin as he teaches Sean the words to “Girls Do What They Want” and hands over his microphone. As he finishes the song, O'Callaghan excitedly jumps on his back, getting a piggyback ride around the stage. “Tell me you got that on video!” He yells, presumably to Sean’s daughter, seconds before crowning him as “Dad Of The Year” to the crowd.
New songs “Do You Remember” and their first single off Lovely Little Lonely, “Bad Behavior” are performed. The crowd refuses to let up and face the fact that the night is coming to an end. There is no need for an encore, no need to grasp at straws to feel the support of the fans, to make them crave more when it’s so obvious they do.
“San Francisco, I don’t know when I’ll be seeing you again…but you looked fucking beautiful tonight.” O’Callaghan prefaces the last song of the night, which comes in the form of the American Candy closer “Another Night On Mars”. It is a perfect note to end on, as each member of the band can be seen on stage singing along, playing out the track as O’Callaghan gives his thanks and tells the crowd, “Take care of each other, and most importantly take care of yourself. Trust me when I say you’re all you’ve got. Thank you for letting us play music. That’s fucking rad.. Thank you for letting us be a band."
Here's to ten more years of The Maine.
The Maine Set List
Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu
Am I Pretty?
Like We Did (Windows Down)
We All Roll Along
The Way We Talk
Take What You Can Carry
Lost In Nostalgia
Raining In Paris
Girls Do What They Want
Diet Soda Society
Do You Remember?
Another Night On Mars
Beach Weather Set List
Sex, Drugs, Etc.