After the demise of the city’s Old Port festival and two years of a quiet pandemic, Portland’s music and culture scene surged again on Sunday as more than 60 performing bands played loud and proud for an estimated crowd of 5,000. at the Resurgam Music and Arts Festival held on Thompson’s Indicate.
“Portland is known as a beer town, a food town. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a city the size of Portland that has so many amazing cultural attractions for kids and families,” said Jeff Shaw, executive director of the Maine Academy of Modern Music, which organized the festival. , prompted by the annual Old Port Festival which ends in 2019 after 46 years. The Maine Academy of Modern Music had sponsored a stage at the Old Port Festival in years past, but in Resurgam – named after the town’s Latin motto, which means, I’ll rise again – children took center stage for audiences of all ages.
“Portland wanted this. Let’s celebrate these children. It’s about the opportunity to be seen and heard. And to see and hear. It’s very inspiring for all the kids watching,” Shaw said.
Student bands and performers from the Maine Academy of Modern Music made up about half of the musical acts at the festival. Spectators spread out on blankets on the grass to watch the show on the Academy stage, with various food trucks set up around the perimeter.
As five-piece band Up in the Air played a catchy cover of a Weezer song, the three members of Cherryfield Goatmen — named after an old Maine legend — waited, calm and cool, to ride then on stage. “We’ve played in front of big crowds before. We’re not nervous,” said drummer Henry Grohman, 14, of Biddeford, a refrain heard by many young academy musicians on Sunday.
“I did a lot of shows. I just got used to it, I guess,” said 11-year-old Molly Fitzpatrick, bassist for girl pop and rock band Shadows. But Fitzpatrick’s Shadows bandmate Isla Murdoch, 12, said she first felt a flutter or two on stage.
“It was kind of scary. There are more people here and it’s the biggest stage we’ve played on,” said Murdoch, nonetheless elated by the electric thrust of their strong performance. Meanwhile, Cherryfield Goatmen , now on stage, ripped through an amped-up cover of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” with Grohman’s driving drum beat providing the band’s core power.
One of the first bands to greet spectators on Sunday was Batimbo United, a Portland-based percussion and vocal band, playing on the festival’s international stage outside the Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine. Dressed in bright red and green ceremonial costumes, the nine members of Batimbo pounded to waist-high conga-style drums, laying down infectious beats while singing and dancing traditional songs from Burundi.
On the community stage outside Brick South, all-ukulele band The Flukes smash their way through Bach and Beatles covers to an older, more intimate but appreciative crowd. Various artists and artisans were set up in booths inside Brick South to sell their wares. Across Brick South, music lovers sat at tables sipping beer as Coyote Island – one of eight bands to take the festival’s rock stage on Sunday – delivered danceable grooves in their indie style psychedelic.
Festival-goers seemed more than happy to enjoy outdoor music and culture on a glorious June day. As for comparisons with the Fête du Vieux-Port, the outlook was just as bright.
“I think the festival concept will work better here,” said Jacob Thich, 37, from Freeport. Thich was a bartender at the Old Port Festival and said the event felt cramped compared to the open space of Thompson’s Point. He added that people who were intoxicated sometimes made the Old Port event less than family-friendly.
“It ruined everything for the young kids,” Thich said. “If this festival takes off like it looks like it will, it could blow the Old Port Festival out of the water.”
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