The Ultimate Guide To Portland Maine Live Music Scene Where To Hear The Best Bands And Artists

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Greetings fellow music lovers! Are you tired of the same old music scene in your town and seeking to explore something new and exciting? Have you heard of Portland Maine’s live music scene but don’t know where to start? Fear not, for in this article, we will guide you through the vibrant world of Portland Maine’s live music and take you on a journey filled with unforgettable performances and experiences.

Get ready to discover the hidden gems of Portland Maine’s live music scene, featuring local and international artists from various genres. By reading this article, you can expect to be introduced to new songs, bands, and venues that you never knew existed. Whether you are a fan of jazz, folk, rock, or something in between, Portland Maine has something for everyone. You will also discover the unique culture and ambiance that sets Portland Maine’s music scene apart from the rest.

We have gathered information from seasoned musicians, loyal music-goers, and industry insiders to provide you with the ultimate guide to Portland Maine’s live music scene. You will learn how to navigate the city, where to find the best performances, and the do’s and don’ts of music etiquette. Get ready to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of this musical haven, and become a part of the community that celebrates live music like no other. So, let’s get started!

The Best Live Music Venues in Portland Maine

Portland, Maine is a haven for music enthusiasts who always want to catch the latest gigs from local and international artists. From outdoor festivals to concert halls, Portland has a lot to offer when it comes to live music. In this article, we will explore some of the best live music venues in Portland, Maine.

1. The State Theatre

The State Theatre is one of the most iconic venues in Portland, Maine. It is an 1,800-seater venue that has hosted many renowned artists such as The Pixies, Bob Dylan, and The Black Keys. The theatre is located on Congress Street, which is the main hub of the downtown area. It is a popular venue for both locals and tourists because of its prime location and excellent acoustics.

  • History: The State Theatre was built in 1929 as a movie palace. It was later transformed into a live performance venue in the 2000s.
  • Atmosphere: The theatre has a classic look that makes it an excellent venue for retro-themed events. It has high ceilings and an open floor arrangement that allows for a clear view of the stage from almost every seat.
  • Events: The State Theatre hosts a wide range of events, including concerts, comedy shows, and theatrical performances. The theatre has also housed charity events, political forums, and film festivals.
  • Pros:
    • It is a historical landmark that adds to its appeal.
    • It has an excellent location that is convenient for both locals and tourists.
    • It has fantastic acoustics.
  • Cons:
    • Tickets can be pricey.
    • It is a large venue that may not be ideal for an intimate concert experience.
  • Table:
  • Location Capacity Events Hosted
    Congress Street 1,800 Concerts, comedy shows, theatrical performances, charity events, political forums, and film festivals.

The State Theatre is undoubtedly one of the best live music venues in Portland, Maine. Its historical significance, strategic location, and excellent acoustics make it an ideal venue for any live event.

Portland Maine Local Bands You Must See

Portland, Maine boasts a thriving live music scene that caters to a wide range of musical tastes. From indie rock to jazz, there’s always a show to see in this bustling coastal city. Here are some of the must-see local bands that are making waves in the Portland music scene.

1. Weakened Friends

Weakened Friends is a power trio that has been gaining popularity in Portland and beyond with their infectious brand of indie rock. The band consists of Sonia Sturino on vocals and guitar, Annie Hoffman on bass, and Cam Jones on drums. They have been making waves in the Portland music scene since their 2014 debut album “Gloomy Tunes”. In 2018, they released their critically acclaimed album “Common Blah” which was praised by Pitchfork as “one of the year’s most exhilarating rock records”.

  • The band formed in Portland in 2014 and has been a staple of the local music scene since then.
  • Their music is characterized by catchy hooks, crunchy guitars, and raw vocals.
  • They have toured extensively throughout the United States, sharing the stage with acts such as The Joy Formidable and CHVRCHES.
  • Weakened Friends have received coverage in major music publications, including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NPR.

2. Armies

Armies is a husband and wife duo comprised of Dave Gutter on vocals and guitar, and Anna Lombard on vocals and keyboards. They describe their music as “soulful indie rock”, and have been praised for their strong songwriting and powerful vocal performances. Their debut album “Armies” was released in 2016 and quickly gained critical acclaim.

  • The band formed in 2016 and has since become a fixture of the Portland music scene.
  • Both Dave Gutter and Anna Lombard are seasoned musicians who have been active in the Portland music scene for years.
  • Their music is characterized by soaring vocals, intricate harmonies, and catchy hooks.
  • Armies have shared the stage with acts such as Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers, and Guster.

3. Sunset Hearts

Sunset Hearts is a five-piece alternative rock band that has been a fixture of the Portland music scene for over a decade. The band consists of Bruce Mayo on vocals, Mark Dennis on guitar, Sean Morin on bass, Bud Stratford on keyboards, and Casey McCurry on drums. They have released several albums and EPs, including their most recent album “Digital Pacific” in 2018.

  • The band has been active in the Portland music scene since 2009.
  • Their music is characterized by jangly guitars, driving rhythms, and catchy melodies.
  • Sunset Hearts have garnered a dedicated local following and have shared the stage with acts such as The Flaming Lips and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
  • They have received coverage in major music publications, including Paste Magazine and Consequence of Sound.
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Pros and Cons of Watching Local Bands

Watching local bands is a great way to discover new music and connect with your local community. However, there are both pros and cons to consider when attending local shows.


  • Watching local bands supports your local music scene and helps to keep it thriving.
  • You can discover new music and potentially find your new favorite band.
  • Local shows are often more affordable than larger venue shows.
  • You can meet and connect with other music lovers in your community.


  • The sound quality at local venues may not be as good as larger venues.
  • The crowds at local shows can be unpredictable and rowdy.
  • It can be difficult to find parking or navigate unfamiliar neighborhoods.
  • Some local bands may not be as polished or experienced as larger acts.
Pros Cons
Affordability Local shows are often more affordable than larger venue shows. None
Discovering New Music You can discover new music and potentially find your new favorite band. Some local bands may not be as polished or experienced as larger acts.
Supporting Your Community Watching local bands supports your local music scene and helps to keep it thriving. The sound quality at local venues may not be as good as larger venues.
Community Connection You can meet and connect with other music lovers in your community. The crowds at local shows can be unpredictable and rowdy.

In conclusion, there are many great local bands to see in the Portland, Maine music scene. Whether you’re a fan of indie rock, jazz, or something in between, there’s a show for everyone. While attending local shows has its pros and cons, it’s a valuable way to support your community and discover new music.

How to Experience Portland Maine’s Music Scene Like a Local

Portland Maine is known for its vibrant music scene, hosting a variety of genres from jazz to indie rock. The city boasts a plethora of venues where musicians of all skill levels grace the stage, drawing in crowds from near and far. To make the most out of your live music experience in Portland, consider the tips and tricks below to experience the music scene like a local.

1. Know the Venues

To get the most out of your experience, it is essential to know the venues in Portland. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming. Below are some of the city’s top venues and what to expect.

  • State Theatre – A former movie palace turned concert hall, the State Theatre is the largest venue in Portland, attracting national and international headliners. It has a capacity of around 1,800 seats, offering a spacious and lively atmosphere.
  • Port City Music Hall – A mid-sized venue in the heart of downtown Portland, Port City Music Hall offers an intimate feel with a capacity of around 500 seats. The venue attracts a variety of genres, with a focus on indie rock and experimental music.
  • The One Longfellow Square – An intimate, listening room in the heart of Portland’s Arts District, the One Longfellow Square is perfect for fans of jazz, folk, and other acoustic performances. It has a capacity of around 150 seats, making it a cozy and welcoming venue.
  • Aura – One of Portland’s newer concert halls, Aura, can hold up to 1,000 guests, and it showcases a range of artists from local to national. Its versatile layout can hold small or large-scale concerts, offering an excellent option for music enthusiasts.

2. Attend Festivals and Special Events

Portland Maine is home to some of the most amazing festivals and special events. The city’s unique location and culture have fostered a vibrant social scene that celebrates music, food, and artistic expression. Below are some of the great events worth attending and what to expect.

  • Portland Old Port Festival – Held on the first Sunday in June bang in the middle of Portland’s Old Port neighborhood, this festival features street vendors, musicians, and performers. It’s been running for over 40 years and attracts thousands of music enthusiasts each year.
  • Celtic Celebration – A two-day festival that celebrates Irish and Scottish heritage, this event features live music, beer gardens, and cultural activities. The festival is held annually at the end of July or beginning of August.
  • First Friday Art Walk – This is a free, self-guided tour of Portland’s vibrant arts culture. Held on the first Friday of every month, visitors can explore galleries, boutiques, and studios, all while enjoying food, drinks, and live music along the way.

3. Support Local Musicians

Portland Maine is a city that supports and celebrates local artists. The music scene is no exception. Not only does supporting local musicians help them grow and develop their careers, but it also allows for exciting, up-and-coming acts to be discovered. Here are some ways to show your support:

  1. Attend Gigs – A great way to support local musicians is by attending their live shows. With so many music venues in Portland, it’s easy to check out different artists and genres.
  2. Buy Merchandise – Purchasing merchandise is an excellent way to support local musicians financially. Merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, and records can be found at shows or online.
  3. Stream Their Music – In today’s digital world, streaming music online is an excellent way to support local musicians. Apps like Spotify and Bandcamp allow you to discover new artists, stream their music, and support their careers.
  4. Tell Your Friends – Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. Be sure to share your positive experiences with friends and family, encouraging them to check out local talent in Portland.
Pros Cons
Supporting local musicians helps them grow and develop their careers Can be difficult to discover new artists outside of your typical genres
Merchandise purchases support local musicians financially Financially supporting local musicians can add up over time
Streaming music streams online supports local musicians from anywhere Streaming services don’t always pay musicians fairly
Word-of-mouth recommendations can help local musicians gain more exposure Not everyone may be interested in supporting local music

In conclusion, experiencing Portland Maine’s music scene like a local requires knowing the venues, attending festivals, and supporting local musicians. By taking the time to explore the music scene, you’ll be able to discover new artists, genres, and experiences. Remember to support local musicians by attending shows, purchasing merchandise, streaming their music, and sharing it with your friends and family. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, the music scene in Portland Maine promises to be a highlight of your experience.

The Ins and Outs of Portland Maine Music Festivals

Live music is an integral part of the culture and lifestyle of Portland, Maine. Portland is a small city, but its music scene is booming. The city is home to numerous festivals that attract not only locals but also tourists from around the world. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular Portland Maine music festivals you shouldn’t miss out on.

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What are Portland Maine music festivals?

Portland Maine music festivals are open-air events that take place in various locations around the city. These festivals promote diversity by introducing different music genres, styles, and performers from different parts of the world. The festivals aim to create a sense of belonging among all those who attend, regardless of their race, religion, gender, age, or social status. These events offer a unique opportunity for music lovers, artists, and locals to meet, socialize, and network.

What are the most popular Portland Maine music festivals?

Portland, Maine, has a diversified music festival scene that caters to different tastes and preferences. The following are some of the most popular Portland Maine music festivals that you can’t afford to miss:

  1. The Portland Jazz Festival – This is an annual festival that takes place in February at various locations throughout Portland. The festival features some of the most talented jazz artists from around the world. It attracts more than 12,000 people each year.
  2. The Old Port Festival – This is a one-day festival that takes place in June in the heart of Portland’s Old Port. It features different music genres such as rock, jazz, pop, and blues, and offers food, drinks, and activities for all ages. It attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year.
  3. The North Atlantic Blues Festival – This is a two-day festival that takes place in July at the Camden Harbor Park in Camden, which is only an hour’s drive from Portland. The festival showcases some of the best blues performers from around the world. It attracts more than 15,000 blues fans each year.
  4. The All Roads Music Festival – This is a one-day festival that takes place in May in different venues around Belfast, which is an hour’s drive from Portland. The festival showcases emerging artists from Maine and other states, and is a great opportunity to discover new talents. It attracts more than 1,000 people each year.

What are the Pros and Cons of Portland Maine music festivals?

Like any other event, Portland Maine music festivals have their pros and cons. The following is a breakdown of some of them:

Pros Cons
They showcase diverse music genres They may be expensive
They offer networking opportunities They may be crowded
They celebrate different cultures They may be affected by weather conditions
They are a great way to spend time with family and friends They may be noisy
They offer a unique opportunity to discover new artists They may require long hours of standing or walking

How can you prepare for Portland Maine music festivals?

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a Portland Maine music festival:

  • Buy your ticket in advance – this will save you money and time.
  • Check the weather forecast – wear clothes and shoes that are suitable for the weather conditions.
  • Bring a portable phone charger – you don’t want to run out of battery when taking photos or videos.
  • Choose a meeting point – it can be challenging to find each other in a crowded festival, so choose a specific place where you can easily meet up with your friends or family.
  • Stay hydrated – bring a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Listen to the performers before the festival – this will help you choose the ones you want to see and avoid any disappointment.

What are the benefits of attending Portland Maine music festivals?

Attending Portland Maine music festivals offers several benefits, including:

  • Experiencing different music genres, styles, and performers
  • Meeting new people and networking with other music lovers, artists, and locals
  • Learning about different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles
  • Discovering new talents and emerging artists
  • Having fun, relaxing, and enjoying time with family and friends

In conclusion, Portland Maine music festivals offer a unique opportunity to experience music, culture, and lifestyle in one place. They cater to different tastes and preferences and offer benefits that go beyond entertainment. By attending these festivals, you not only support the local music scene but also create memories that will last a lifetime.

Exploring Portland Maine’s Diverse Live Music Genres

As a cultural hub in Maine, Portland is renowned for its musical diversity that reflects the city’s eclectic spirit. From jazz to punk rock, there is something for every ear in Portland’s live music scene. In this section, we will explore the diverse live music genres in Portland.

1. Jazz

Maine has a rich history of jazz, and Portland’s jazz scene is no exception. Jazz aficionados can always find small clubs where local jazz musicians perform. From classic jazz standards to contemporary jazz, there is always something to suit everyone’s taste.

The Blue

The Blue is one of the most popular jazz clubs in Portland, which showcases the best local jazz musicians. The club started its operation in 2002 and has since been an energetic breeding ground for experimental and traditional jazz music. Many national acts have also graced the stage at The Blue, including Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, and Mark Murphy.

Portland Jazz Orchestra

Another prominent jazz group in Portland is the Portland Jazz Orchestra. It is a big band that has performed for more than two decades in the region, showcasing a range of music styles and featuring jazz luminaries such as Phil Woods, Christian McBride, and John Clayton. The Orchestra’s performances are not to be missed for jazz enthusiasts.

2. Folk and Indie

The picturesque surroundings have inspired many musicians in Portland, leading to a vibrant folk and indie music scene. Whether it’s playing guitar in a coffee shop or performing at a local festival, folk and indie musicians in Portland impress the audience with their talents and versatility.

One Longfellow Square

One Longfellow Square, an intimate listening room in downtown Portland, is known for its unique programming, including showcasing emerging and established touring folk, blues, and roots artists. The venue has fostered a sense of community among musicians and fans alike, making it one of the most popular venues for folk and indie music in Portland.

Portland Folk Festival

For those looking for a festival experience, the Portland Folk Festival is a must-attend event. The festival features a range of folk and indie performers, including local and national acts. The festival is a unique opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Maine outdoors while feasting your ears on excellent folk and indie music.

3. Rock

Portland’s rock scene is a hub for punk and indie rock bands. The city’s rich history in rock music has always attracted musicians who are looking for acceptance rather than fame.

State Theatre

State Theatre is a renowned venue in Portland that has showcased legendary rock acts like Patti Smith, Joey Ramone, and Marilyn Manson. With its state-of-the-art sound and lighting, the State Theatre provides an unbeatable experience for rock music fans.

SPACE Gallery

SPACE Gallery is another iconic venue in Portland that provides a platform for emerging and established rock acts. The venue consists of a 300 capacity room that maintains the intimacy and energy that sets it apart from other venues. It’s worth checking out if you’re looking for something unique and memorable.

4. Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is a relatively new genre to Portland’s live music scene, but it’s quickly gaining popularity. The city’s diverse culture has influenced its unique take on hip-hop, resulting in a more introspective and lyrical style.

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Empire Live Music & Events

Empire Live Music & Events hosts some of the best hip-hop shows in Portland, showcasing some of the region’s hottest new talents. Empire boasts having the most significant sound system in Portland, delivering a raw and intense hip-hop experience.

Bangor Street Neighborhood Association

Bangor Street Neighborhood Association is a non-profit organization that supports and advocates for Portland’s diverse music community. The Association hosts annual hip-hop events, providing a platform for local and national hip-hop artists to showcase their talent.

5. Comparison Table: Live Music Venues in Portland

A comparison table of live music venues in Portland will help you narrow down the best venue that suits your style and preference. Here are a few key factors to consider.

The Blue One Longfellow Square State Theatre SPACE Gallery Empire Live Music & Events
Capacity 50-200 270 1600 300 350
Genre Jazz Folk and Indie Rock Rock Hip-Hop
Price $10-$20 $12-$35 $20-$50 $10-$20 $10-$25
Bar Full Full Full Beer and Wine Full
  1. Capacity: The number of people the venue can accommodate.
  2. Genre: The type of music the venue usually features.
  3. Price: The average price of the tickets for the venue.
  4. Bar: The type of bar available (Full, Beer and Wine, or None).

Choose Your Venue Wisely

Choosing the right live music venue is crucial to enjoying yourself and making the most out of Portland’s diverse live music scene. Consider the genre, the size of the venue, and the price when choosing a venue that suits your preferences. Whether you’re into jazz, folk, rock, or hip-hop, Portland’s live music venues will always have something exciting to offer.

FAQs: Portland Maine Live Music

1. What are some popular live music venues in Portland, Maine?

Portland, Maine boasts several iconic live music venues. Some of the most popular music venues are State Theatre, Port City Music Hall, and One Longfellow Square, to name a few. These venues host live music performances of various genres, ranging from classical music to jazz and pop music.

2. What type of music scene can you find in Portland, Maine?

Portland, Maine has a diverse music scene, with something for everyone. You can find various genres of music being played here, such as indie, rock, jazz, folk, blues, and classical. The city has a vibrant music community that hosts dozens of festivals and live music events throughout the year.

3. Are there any music festivals in Portland, Maine?

Yes, Portland, Maine hosts several music festivals throughout the year, such as the Portland Jazz Festival, Old Port Festival, and the North Atlantic Blues Festival. These festivals attract music lovers from around the world, making it a great opportunity to experience different genres of music.

4. What is the best time of year to visit Portland for live music?

The best time to visit Portland, Maine for live music depends on your musical taste. The city hosts live music events and festivals throughout the year, but summers are considered the best time to visit. You can enjoy outdoor concerts and street performances during the summer months.

5. Can I find live music in Portland, Maine during the week?

Yes, you can find live music performances in Portland, Maine every day of the week. Many bars, restaurants, and music venues host live music events, particularly on weekends. Some venues also offer live music performances during the week, such as Open Mic Nights, Jazz Nights, and Acoustic Nights.

6. Is there a cover charge for live music events in Portland, Maine?

Yes, some music venues in Portland, Maine may require a cover charge for entry, particularly for well-known performers. However, many venues offer free entry to live music events, particularly during the weekdays. It’s best to check with the venue beforehand to know their cover charge policy.

7. What kind of audience can I expect at live music events in Portland, Maine?

You can expect a great, friendly and diverse audience at live music events in Portland, Maine. The city has a lively music community, and you can easily mingle with locals, tourists, and music lovers. Furthermore, being an eclectic music city, Portland attracts a broad range of music enthusiasts, from the older crowd to younger ones.

8. Are there any age restrictions for live music events in Portland, Maine?

Yes, age restrictions at live music events may vary depending on the venue and the artist performing. Some venues allow underage music lovers, while older venues may require attendees to be at least 18 or 21 years old. It’s best to check with the venue before attending the event.

9. Can I find live music events for free in Portland, Maine?

Yes, you can find plenty of free live music events in Portland, Maine, such as the Old Port Festival, First Friday Art Walk, and Portland Jazz Festival. Besides free public music events, some restaurants and bars offer live music performances for free, such as the Blue and Salvage BBQ.

10. How can I stay updated with the upcoming live music events in Portland, Maine?

The easiest way to stay updated with upcoming live music events in Portland, Maine is to check out local event calendars, such as the MaineToday and PortlandPressHerald. You can also check out Facebook pages of music venues in Portland to know about future events, timings, and other details.


Portland, Maine has a rich music history, and it’s a great city for live music lovers. From jazz festivals to indie-rock concerts, from acoustic nights to karaoke bars, Portland has something for everyone. The city has a bustling music scene, with lots of iconic venues and festivals that are worth exploring. After reading this article, you can try attending some upcoming live music events, explore the nightlife, or try out some of the best food and drinks in Portland. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out our other interesting articles!