After promising to do a better job of controlling noise levels, the promoter of Saturday night’s outdoor concert at Westbrook’s Rock Row venue acknowledges there is still room for improvement.

About 200 callers complained about the noise from a performance of a rock-reggae band, Slightly Stoopid, at the Maine Savings Pavilion on Saturday night. Those numbers were slightly less than a May 26 concert at the amphitheater that generated 247 unique complaints, noted Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts.

Gray said it will take another day or two to determine if the 200 complaints were unique or were lodged more than once by the same individual.

Alex Gray Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

“I think the needle is moving in the right direction. But there is no silver bullet and the solution is not going to happen overnight,” Gray said during an interview Sunday night. “It’s going to be a work in progress. I don’t think we are ever going to zero complaints.”

Gray said his staff will continue to work with individual artists on ways to modify their public address systems in the hope of reducing noise levels. It took Waterfront Concerts about two years to get concert noise levels down to a manageable level at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, he said.

“The balance we are trying to achieve here is to create an amazing concert experience while reducing the impact noise has on the surrounding neighborhoods,” Gray said.


The next Rock Row concert will be held Thursday and will feature rock band Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums, an American indie pop and neo soul band. The bands are touring together.

More than 50 people, angered by the loud noise they had to endure from a Memorial Day weekend concert, attended a neighborhood noise meeting held last week in Westbrook. Jon Dow, general manager of Waterfront Concerts, vowed to do a better job of controlling noise levels at Saturday night’s performance by Slightly Stoopid.

“I think on Sunday (June 16) you will be pleasantly surprised,” Dow told the crowd.

But the number of complaints over noise from the performance of Slightly Stoopid were only modestly lower than those logged during the first concert at the outdoor amphitheater on May 26. That concert, by hip-hop and funk artist Anderson. Paak, drew 237 calls to city officials and police and 70 to a noise complaint line set up by Waterfront Concerts.

The concert generated complaints not only from Westbrook residents, but from as far away as Portland’s Back Cove neighborhood.

For Saturday’s concert, which started at 6 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m., 130 calls went to a line set up by Waterfront Concerts. There were also about 40 calls in the voicemail box of the noise compliance official hired by Waterfront Concerts, said Lynda Adams, a community liaison consultant for the developer of the site, named Rock Row. Westbrook police received 30 calls, said police Capt. Sean J. Lally.


Of those 30 calls to the police, 10 were made during a sound check Saturday afternoon, Lally said. Westbrook police then posted a request on the department’s Facebook page asking that those complaining about noise direct their calls to the Waterfront Concerts complaint line instead.

The amphitheater is set up on a corner of a former rock quarry where a developer plans a large mixed retail-office-and housing development off Main Street and Larrabee Road near the Westbrook-Portland line.

Many Westbrook residents out Saturday evening said the concerts have many side benefits, including bringing thousands of music fans – and their money – into the city. Some also said they believe noise issues will diminish once Rock Row gets further developed and more buildings are around the amphitheater.

Adams said the concert promoter and Rock Row officials will be compiling the noise complaints this week to try to determine if they were concentrated in any one particular area and what the noise was like where callers heard it.

During the first concert, many of the calls to the noise complaint line went to a voicemail box, which quickly filled to capacity, but this time most of the calls were answered by staffers, Adams said. Callers were asked where they were calling from and what types of sound they were hearing most – vocals, bass music and drums or crowd noise, for instance.

Adams said her first impression was that many of the calls came from East Bridge Street, a mostly residential street about a half-mile from the site of the concert, and Pride’s Corner, which is a little farther away and near the city line with Portland in northeast Westbrook. She also said that most of the callers were hearing bass from the concert, rather than vocals, other instruments or crowd noises.

The city approved 16 concerts for the Maine Savings Pavilion this year and required Waterfront Concerts to post decibel meters, which record sound levels, at four points in Westbrook and one in Portland. If the meters detected noise five decibels above background levels, concert officials would cut back on the volume of the speakers in the pavilion. As at the May 26 concert, the meters on Saturday night did not detect noise levels more than five decibels above background and the volume on the speakers was not reduced, Adams said.

Adams said the developer added a mobile component to the monitoring Saturday night, with a staffer equipped with a decibel meter in a car dispatched to parts of the city where the number of complaints were highest. That also failed to turn up readings more than five decibels over background levels, she said.

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