News Column

Mumford & Sons Show Has Portland Residents Worried

June 29, 2012

Dennis Hoey

Mumford & Sons

Weeks before its scheduled performance in Portland, one of the music industry's hottest folk rock bands is creating a lot of excitement, and public concern.

City officials and promoters of the outdoor concert Aug. 4 by Mumford & Sons attended the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization's annual meeting Thursday night.

The meeting at the East End Community School gave residents a chance to ask questions, and for the promoters gather comments from neighbors who will be directly affected by the show, which will draw thousands of people to the Eastern Promenade.

Andrea Myhaver, president of the neighborhood organization, told the audience, "We've had feedback ranging from great excitement to great concern."

Residents at the meeting wanted to know how the city plans to regulate traffic, collect trash and manage a beer garden that will be part of the concert site.

"I don't know how much you know about this band, but they are not Metallica," said Lauren Wayne, who is promoting the concert on behalf of the State Theatre. "These are guys based in bluegrass. They are very mellow and their fans are pretty mellow."

The critically acclaimed band has a loyal following. Its debut album, "Sigh No More," was released in 2010 and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Wayne went before the Portland City Council in April for approval to hold the concert at the Eastern Promenade park, which overlooks East End Beach and Casco Bay.

Councilors approved the use of the public venue by a vote of 8-0, reasoning that it would be a great way to showcase the city to the band's worldwide following.

Tickets for the concert went on sale June 1. All 12,500 tickets sold out in 25 minutes.

Wayne and Andy Downs, director of Portland's Recreation and Facilities Department, presented more details Thursday about how the concert will affect Munjoy Hill and the rest of the city.

Downs said the city plans to shut down traffic to Munjoy Hill and restrict access as it does on July 4, to accommodate the large crowd that's expected.

Downs said people will be encouraged to walk, ride bicycles or take the Narrow Gauge Railroad train to the concert site.

The festival will begin at noon with performances by several lesser-known bands. The concert will end by 9 p.m.

The concert venue will encompass the lawn between Turner and Moody streets that slopes down toward Cutter Street -- the access road to the city's boat launch.

Downs said the boat launch will be closed at 11 a.m. and will not reopen until the city's staff deems its appropriate -- but no later than Sunday morning.

Steve Gaal lives across the street from the concert site. He is concerned about alcohol being served at the concert and the effect it might have on some people in the crowd.

"I am very concerned that the city is supporting this activity so aggressively," Gaal said. "I am very concerned about the precedent this may be setting for the Eastern Prom."

Downs said his staff will oversee the beer garden, with employees of the State Theatre serving the beer.

Wayne said she learned that all of the city's hotel rooms have been booked for that date.

"We picked the Eastern Prom because it's a natural amphitheater," she said. "The band is super psyched to be coming here."

Portland is one of just four small cities across the United States that Mumford & Sons chose to host its "Gentlemen of the Road" tour.

Wayne said the band hopes the festive atmosphere will spread throughout the city, with after-concert parties being held at smaller, indoor venues.



Source: (c)2012 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)


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