August 1, 2013

Free bash celebrates reopening of Port City Music Hall

The open house-style event features mostly local acts and coincides with Portland's monthly First Friday Art Walk.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Promoter Lauren Wayne doesn't see Port City Music Hall as simply a smaller venue than the State Theatre.

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Patrons line up outside Port City Music Hall for the Father John Misty show in Portland last weekend.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Too Late the Hero


HERE'S A LOOK at some of the upcoming shows at Port City Music Hall. For ticket prices, go to statetheatre Most shows start at 8 p.m.

Aug. 9: Too Late the Hero

Aug. 10: Chris Webby

Aug. 16: Anna Lombard album release

Aug. 17: EOTO

Aug. 18: The Mickey Hart Band

Aug. 19: mewithoutyou and The Spinto Band

Aug. 20: Every Time I Die

Aug. 23: Jeff Beam's Loudspeaker Wallpaper and ShaShaSha dual album release show

She sees it as a place where she can take more chances with edgier, hipper and even experimental acts.

"The State Theatre, because of its size (1,800 capacity), has to have more mainstream acts to make it work," said Wayne, general manager of the State. "But at Port City (529 capacity), we can try different things, so that's exciting to us. We can make a show with 200 people work here. "

The owners of the State Theatre bought the smaller Port City Music Hall -- located down the street from the State Theatre in Portland -- in May, then closed it for refurbishing, including painting, stage renovations and plaster repairs.

The venue reopened for shows about a month ago, but Wayne is planning a massive free show on Friday to allow people to see the possibilities for themselves.

The open house-style event features at least seven mostly local acts playing from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and coincides with Portland's monthly First Friday Art Walk, so people strolling alomg Congress Street for art can pop in to Port City for some music.

Local musicians and music fans alike are excited about the State Theatre's management of Port City, given the volume and variety of shows Wayne has brought to the State since she became general manager of that venue about three years ago.

"She has a very keen sense of what room is appropriate for each band she books," said Casey McCurry, lead singer of the local dance-rock/synth-pop band Sunset Hearts, "and she has a habit of booking my favorite bands."

Sunset Hearts is scheduled to play Port City's grand reopening on Friday along with Awaas (experimental), DJ Matty T. (dance), Foam Castles (rock), Hutch Heelan (alt-pop), Billy Libby (indie folk), Ian Hammond (DJ) and Soule Monde (members of The Trey Anastasio Band).

Wayne said about $25,000 has been spent so far on repairs and renovations at Port City, but stressed that it's an ongoing process. Some of the money was spent on designing a new graphic black-and-white logo.

Holes in the walls were repaired, and the entire interior was repainted. The stage was torn down and rebuilt, and a new off-stage soundboard area was created. Previously, the soundboard was on the stage, which limited the space available to performers, Wayne said.

The venue's lighting and sound system were also "tweaked" and reconfigured slightly to allow for better sound and more specific lighting. A VIP seating area with table service remains, but is now called "preferred seating," and the bar in that area is now open to everyone.

The venue's downstairs lounge area is also being rebuilt and repainted, and vintage tabletop video games and pinball machines will be installed. Wayne envisions the lounge as a quieter place for people to hang out if they don't want to watch one of the bands or need a break from the action.

The State Theatre management bought the assets for Port City, and are leasing the space. So essentially for now, Wayne is running both venues, which gives her the flexibility to book shows where they make the most sense.

The State Theatre is a 1920s movie theater that had become a porn theater before being renovated into a performing arts venue in the early 1990s. But no management team had been able to make a go of it for very long as a concert hall until Bowery Presents and Crothers Entertainment took over the venue in 2010 and installed Wayne, a longtime talent booker in Portland and Boston, as general manager. The State had been closed for four years before the present management took over.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Singer/songwriter Father John Misty at the show. Port City is newly reopened and under new ownership.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Lauren Wayne, general manager at the State Theatre, which bought the smaller Port City in May. Wayne is, for now, running both venues.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Preferred seating at Port City Music Hall.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Chris Webby

Courtesy photo

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Anna Lombard

Courtesy photo

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Mickey Hart

Courtesy photo

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