Waterstone Properties partner Josh Levy holds up a rendering of the completed Rock Row development while leading a tour of the site after a press conference on Tuesday. The first concert at its concert venue, Maine Savings Pavilion, is May 26. Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

WESBTBROOK — Rock Row is less than a month away from rockin’ out.

Southern Maine’s newest outdoor concert venue – the 8,200-capacity Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row – is scheduled to open May 26 with a show by hip-hop and funk artist Anderson Paak, and another 13 shows for this year are scheduled so far. On Tuesday, the site’s developers led a tour over muddy roads and parking lots to show what’s been accomplished so far, and what is left to be done.

The concert venue will be the first component of Rock Row to open to the public. The 100-acre business and residential complex, on the site of a former gravel quarry off Route 25 near the Portland line, is scheduled to take five to seven years to build and will eventually include stores, restaurants, offices and apartments. A Market Basket supermarket, The Paper Store and Starbucks will open there next year, the developers said Tuesday.

Visible signs of the progress made on the concert venue include the finished foundation for a 108-foot-by-60-foot covered stage, a 14-foot-high man-made hill that will serve as lawn seating, new power lines and level areas for parking and a concessions concourse. There’s also a 20-foot earthen berm on one side of the site to help stop musical noise from wafting to neighbors, about a half mile away. Improvements that still need to be made include the paving of all parking areas, the installation of the stage, the rolling of sod on the lawn area, and the installation of metal detectors, tents, movable concession stands and other structures, port-a-potties and other bathroom facilities.

Jon Dow, general manager of Waterfront Concerts, talks about the concert venue during a tour of the Rock Row development after a press conference on Tuesday. Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

“The hard part is done,” said Jon Dow, general manager of Waterfront Concerts, the Bangor-based company that will run the concert venue. “I’m sleeping a lot better than I was a month ago.”

One clear benefit to building a concert venue on a 100-acre site is the ability to create parking. Dow said Tuesday that everyone who buys a concert ticket will be entitled to parking, at no extra cost. People who want to park closer to their seats, in a VIP lot, can pay an extra $35, Dow said. At the city-owned Maine State Pier in Portland, where Waterfront Concerts put on shows from 2014 to 2018, there was no free on-site lot and parking in downtown Portland was hard to come by.

Another advantage of moving concerts from the pier to Rock Row, Dow said, is the size difference. With a capacity of more than 8,000, the Maine Savings Pavilion can host bands that attract bigger and more diverse crowds. The pier, with a capacity of 3,000, limited the pool of bands that would want to play there instead of a larger outdoor venue in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. And with a stage that is about four times larger than the stage at the pier, Dow said bands coming to Maine Savings Pavilion will be able to use more equipment – for light shows or video presentations, for instance – than they could at the pier.

Because the lawn area at the back of the Maine Savings Pavilion is 14 feet above the stage area, people with the theoretical “worst seats” in the house will still have a clear view of the stages. At the flat Maine State Pier, people in the last row didn’t have great views. For some shows, folding chairs will be set up between the lawn and the stage. But for others, there will no fixed seating and people can either lay out a blanket, stand or rent a lawn chair from the venue.

Dow said the June 29 show with the rock band Shinedown is an example of a show that would not have been held at the pier because the potential crowd would be too big. Other shows scheduled for Maine Savings Pavilion so far include Slightly Stoopid on June 15,  Young the Giant and Fitz and The Tantrums on June 20, Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on June 22, Joe Bonamassa on July 28, Rebelution on Aug. 2, Dark Star Orchestra on Aug. 4, Alice Cooper and Halestorm on Aug. 10, John Fogerty on Aug. 11, and Flogging Molly and Social Distortion on Aug. 30. The starting ticket prices for most shows range from about $30 to $50.

Most of the acts scheduled fall within the broad rock category, ranging from pop to harder-edged music. Guy, Shepherd and Bonamassa are all blues guitar players, while Rebelution does reggae rock and Flogging Molly is a Celtic punk band. Dark Star Orchestra performs the music of The Grateful Dead. Cooper and Fogerty are rock veterans whose careers have spanned more than 40 years, with Fogerty scoring big hits in the 1960s with his band Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Fourteen acts have been booked for the venue so far, although three have not yet been announced. The city of Westbrook gave approval for 16 shows between May and late September. The overall Rock Row project is being developed by Waterstone Properties of Needham, Massachusetts.

The opening of Maine Savings Pavilion means Greater Portland will still have two major outdoor concert venues this summer, as it has had for the past several years. The  other open-air concert venue is run by the State Theatre at Thompson’s Point on the Fore River. Thompson’s Point usually has shows with capacities between 2,500 and 5,000, according to its website, but its management says the site is approved for up to 10,000. The Maine State Pier, owned by the city of Portland, has no concerts scheduled this year, and the city has been exploring other options for the pier area.

Tour-goers walk back from the concert venue site during a tour of the Rock Row development on Tuesday. Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

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