It was the day I had been dreading nearly all summer: Saturday, August 4th 2012. The day when 15,000 plus screaming fans of the acclaimed folk-rock group Mumford and Sons descended upon the Eastern Promenade for what was sure to be a ‘hell on earth’ scenario of Tolkien proportions. Traffic would stop, babies would cry, and fire would erupt from every orifice of the earth as ring-wraiths rode through the streets of Portland pillaging our once beautiful arts district until the Queen of Hats herself was dethroned. I’d be fine, I told myself, just remain calm, and whatever you do, don’t eat the brown acid. Luckily, Shakedown Street was nowhere to be found, and everything miraculously turned out fine.
And by fine, I mean, totally kick-ass and rock-tacular, as only such Seussian words can hope to describe an event of this magnitude. Even if the words ‘Mumford and Sons’ made little to no sense to you as a passerby in this fine city, the sheer scope of the scene was simply astonishing. There was music, there was food, and there was a hill overlooking the very edge of earth itself. What else could you ask for?
First things first: who were Haim and why didn’t I know of them already? These ladies absolutely played their hearts out to a small gathering of faithful concert-goers assembled in front of the second stage in the early afternoon Saturday for what was surely the sleeper set of the day. The band, which blends catchy pop melodies with gorgeous three-part harmonies, gave it their all, and it showed. They even ended their set with a righteous blues jam and drum circle, man. Gnarly. Check ‘em out.
After a brief set by Apache Relay and The Maccabees, I made my way over to the second stage to see St. Vincent. This would be my first time seeing the band, and to say I was somewhat excited would be an understatement. Perhaps a regurgitation of nonsense letters such as ‘asdfasydasbdkjsa’ more aptly describes my emotional state at the time as I anxiously waited for Annie Clark and CO. to take the stage. Luckily, I managed to calm myself, and when all was said and done, the band lived up to every preconceived fanatic notion I hoped they would. From the quirky, off-kilter dance moves, to the spell-binding musicianship and guitar prowess of Clark, St. Vincent delivered a gripping set that held everyone in rapt attention — except for those blanketed few situated a short distance away from me on a patch of grass reading The Babysitters Club. Reading? Interesting. Had someone else discovered the brown acid before me? My quest continued…
While the majority of the crowd seemed to remain stationery throughout the day, staking out a plot of land and biding their time until Mumford and Sons hit the stage, nobody could resist the raw energy of The Dropkick Murphys, who brought the hills alive with the sound of music like a beer-swilling Rogers and Hammerstein with their infectious hit ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston.’ It was a moment to behold, as the crowd of 15,000 people simultaneously rose to their feet and clapped in unison as the band dove headfirst into the song, rounding out a knock-out set that more than primed the crowd for what was to come.
Which was, of course, the ‘main event,’ as they say: Mumford and Sons.
And while we may have been in our quaint town of Portland, Maine, with the torrent of cries of ‘MARRY ME, MARCUS!’ filling the air, you’d think you were in Liverpool at the height of Beatlemania. Kids say the darndest things!
Fortunately, the love was mutually shared by lead singer Marcus, who used more than one expletive to show his appreciation for the town and the hospitality he and the band were shown over the course of the weekend (QUICK FACTS: Marcus dined at J’s Oyster bar, toured the waters aboard a real-life fishing vessel, and allegedly enjoys long walks on the beach. Allegedly.) With that being said, the band delivered a fantastic set filled with classic material like ‘Little Lion Man,’ ‘The Cave,’ and ‘Winter Winds,’ alongside newer songs from their upcoming album ‘Babel,’ that were all rapturously received by the sea of enthusiastic fans. An over-the-top encore followed, with members from each of the day’s previous acts joining the band onstage for a memorable rendition of The Band classic ‘The Weight’ that capped the ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ event on a delightful high-note.
And thankfully, no one ate the brown acid.
Check out a selection of my favorite photos below, and be sure to click the link at the bottom of the page for the full gallery: