Portland’s music venues are in trouble.

With Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order limiting group sizes, venues are shuttered, and live music has fallen silent.

In mid-July, One Longfellow Square capped off a fundraising drive of $175,000 to stay afloat. Later that month, Port City Music Hall announced its permanent closure due to the financial woes wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. This month, Geno’s Rock Club announced a change in ownership.

With venues in the news, it seems like the right time to revisit what feels like a bygone era – a time when we could stand shoulder-to-shoulder and sway in unison to a wall of sound.

These images were taken a few years ago in 2014 and 2015 during a midlife crisis.

I had just quit my full-time job as a local newspaper reporter to pursue my budding passion as a photographer. Freelance photo assignments were intermittent at first, so I decided to channel my free time into another recent passion – heavy metal music.

Metal was something that I’d discovered in 2010 while my mom was dying of brain cancer. The music – so energetic and raw – felt sympathetic to my anger and despair at the time. It was oddly soothing, too, the way a cup of coffee can paradoxically calm you down just as it speeds you up.

In that confluence of hobbies, Post Mortem was born.

Post Mortem was a news and photo blog dedicated to Portland’s overflowing heavy metal and hard rock scene. A few nights a week, I’d stay up late documenting band performances and post the results the next day on postmortemportland.wordpress.com.

These selected photos are the best of nearly a year’s work and serve as proof that a midlife crisis can be a good thing.

Hopefully, Portland’s venues can weather the economic hardship and we’ll all stand shoulder-to-shoulder again soon.

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