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Review: The Maine throw a 'Black & White' party at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg




The Maine have no right to be this enjoyable.

They were supposed to have a nice, short shelf life as a mid-level Warped Tour band, get a couple of reviews in Alternative Press and break up after six and a half years of sort of catchy, but ultimately forgettable, pop rock.

Then they had to go and release their second album, Black & White, in July. And I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.

On Friday at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg, a slew of teenage fans happily sang along — many even hopping onstage to do so — to songs from Black & White, as well as the band’s equally catchy 2008 debut, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. I’m sure I was the only one there hoping for an all-Black & White setlist, but over the course of 80 minutes and 18 songs, The Maine played enough of their catalog to make everyone happy.

Black & White harkens back to the ’90s with guilty-pleasure, power-pop songs that sound like vintage Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls and Better Than Ezra (and, okay, fine, maybe a little bit of Hanson). It’s more pop-rock than pop-punk, and beneath that, there’s even a tiny hint of country. (Seriously — I have no doubt that someone like Eric Church or Jake Owen could score a hit with a country cover of The Maine’s Right Girl. Let’s see another Hot Topic band write a song like that.)

The band kicked right into it on Friday, opening with the B&W track Inside Of You, punctuating the anthemic chorus with confetti from the rafters. Combine this with the sight of tattooed, skinny-fit singer John O’Callaghan stripped down to his ultra low-cut jeans, and you had a recipe for shrieks of approval from all the girls in the crowd.

O’Callaghan knows where his bread is buttered, too. On the night’s third song, he brought a tween fan onstage to sing Girls Do What They Want. All night, the crowd kept passing girls to the stage — sometimes O’Callaghan would see them and invite them to sing along; other times he’d have his back to the crowd and security would rip them away. You take your chances, I guess.

To be totally honest, the set was a little glitchy — there seemed to be too many awkward pauses between songs; it seemed like the band might have been experiencing some unseen technical difficulties — and O’Callaghan was content to let fans do much of the work on songs from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. (I'll cut them some slack; this is, after all, their first national headlining tour.)

But The Maine picked up steam at various points during the show, such as on B&W’s driving opener Don’t Stop Now. The bouncy, feel-good This Is The End was another highlight. And throughout the night, nods to the band’s ’90s influences — intentional or not — were everywhere. Into Your Arms could have been Everclear. Whoever She Is and Growing Up sounded like early Matchbox TwentyWe'll All Be... wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lemonheads/Teenage Fanclub tribute disc.

I think it's great that a band with such a delightfully rear-view approach to their music has managed to find a devoted teenage fan base. And their popularity seems to be growing — they’ve already booked another high-profile tour this fall, alongside Never Shout Never, that was just announced today.

But after Black & White, I can't say I'm surprised.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 11:28pm]


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