Work In Progress: Skynyrd Kicks Off Bangor Summer Concert Season
Would it be ready in time for this weekend's concert?
That was the question I heard and saw being asked around town and on social media, with regard to whether or not the new Maine Savings Amphitheater would be ready for the big Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert that was to take place this past weekend.
The venue was supposed to open the season on June 23rd with country artist Dierks Bentley, but that show was canceled with just a couple of days of notice to concertgoers.
The reason for the cancellation was a bit ambiguous, which led some to speculate about the venue, which has been under constant construction pretty much since 2020, and whether it would be ready in time for the season.
The Bentley cancellation shifted the official opening concert to the one that took place this past Sunday; The Outlaws, Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
As Sunday afternoon rolled around, and people started to make their way to the amphitheater, you could tell people were excited to be out and about and going to concerts again.
You could tell, simply from the walk leading up to the building entrance gate, that there were going to be a lot of people attending this concert.
They streamlined the process and had multiple Will Call windows open and at least half-a-dozen metal detectors at the entrance, so while the lines were long, they moved quickly.
You could definitely see there was more work to be done on the space, but the sections they had opened (the 100s, 200s and 300s) were ready to go.
Separate spots to get food and drinks made grabbing snacks on the way to your seat a pretty easy experience. They didn't have everything on the menu yet, but what they had was yummy.
One thing a lot of people have been excited about was the addition of actual bathrooms to replace the long lines of port-a-potties.
Passing by, they looked nice.
Later that evening, between sets, the lines to the bathroom were crazy long, prompting some to ask about opening up some of the adjoining port-a-potties out in the front of the venue. While the line was lengthy, it did move quickly.
Once you got inside, they had attendants in the bathrooms helping to make sure to direct traffic to the empty stalls. They did run out of water to the women's room at one point later in the night, but I'm sure they'll be ironing out that detail before the next show.
The flow of folks in and out of the different sections that were open was actually pretty steady and pretty easy, for the most part.
Sections were easy to find, and there were plenty of ushers around to help people find their seats.
The way the new sections have been set up also means that the views of the stage have greatly improved.
And they had some drink carts set up in the different sections so if you wanted a simple drink, you didn't have to go all the way back out to the food court area to get it. There were reports of some of the beer houses running out of booze before the headliners took the stage, but again, that's a detail I am sure will be improved upon by the next performance.
Waterfront Concerts Founder, Alex Gray was even spotted doing some bush pruning in one of the top sections during the Marshall Tucker Band set.
The Concert Itself
Now, to the concert itself. All 3 bands on the bill are iconic American Rock bands who have been touring the good old U.S. of A. for just about 50 years each.
The evening started with The Outlaws.
As the crowd started to build, the audience really came alive when they played a cover of Neil Young's "Keep On Rockin In The Free World."
Next up was the Marshall Tucker Band.
Much to the delight of the audience, one of the remaining founders of the band, Doug Gray, did his best to belt out the band's most recognizable songs aided by a newer addition to the band, Chris Hicks.
After a brief set change and a sunset, the crow came to their feet, as Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" and they went right into their hit "Working for the MCA".
Johnny Van Zant kept things rolling, from one hit to the next, taking any chance he could get to thank our troops, and extend his gratitude to the crowd for coming out on the 4th of July weekend to help them rock.
The band played all their hits, and the crowd seemed to revel in the ability to take in the sound on such a grand scale again, after so many years of pandemic-related closures.
The improvements to the layout and the addition of the big screens on either side of the stage meant there really wasn't a bad spot in the house.
Ending it as they always do, Skynyrd sent the crowd home to an encore of "Freebird" at the audience's request.
While it was certainly a work in progress, as the folks from Waterfront Concerts said it would be, the overall experience was a good one. If they continue to build and smooth out the wrinkles, there's potential for this to be a really great first concert season in the new spot.
It will be cool to see the rest of the sections come together and how the final result takes shape. For now, just keep in mind that the building is still a work in progress.