Best Live Music Venues in Portland, Maine



One of the best things about Portland, Maine, is the number of live music venues. It’s not hard to come up with dozens, if not hundreds of places to see live shows in the area. Many of them offer unique experiences to see some great live music. Some are great, some need work, but the fact that there are so many options that exist make Portland, Maine one of the best places to be fan of live music. Here are some of the best live music venues.

Port City Music Hall

This new venue has changed the way that Mainers see live music. Holding approximately 700 people, shows here have an intimate feel that makes the experience one of a kind. They offer a VIP section for a price, and it’s usually well worth it. In the VIP area you are raised a couple feet higher than the rest of the crowd, you have your own bar, as well as your own seats and tables. The Port City Music Hall offers hundreds of shows a year, and they try to fill each day with either a local or national act. They have no problem bringing back major acts like OK GO, Ween, Soulive, Mike Gordon, Jazz Mandolin Project, Mofro, Derek Trucks, MMW, Coheed and Cambria, and the Rustic Overtones just to name a few. Drinks are reasonably priced, they do not offer food, but as they are located right on Congress Street, there are restaurants all over the place. You won’t be dissapointed with the sound either. Despite the rather booming sound when the place is empty, as soon as it fills up, the sound is amazing. Well balanced speakers and good mixers make sure that you experience the full dynamic range of whatever is coming off the stage. If you have a chance to see a show at the Port City Music Hall, do it, you won’t be sorry.

Mike Gordon at the Port City Music Hall

Mike Gordon at the Port City Music Hall

The State Theatre

The State Theatre has gone through some real hard times in it’s lifetime. Most recently, it was closed for about 5 years due to the fire code violations. After 5 years if rumors, it was finally bought, renovated, and is now open again for business. The State Theatre is a Portland institution, and it’s large size attracts big name acts in all styles of music and comedy. It’s good to see it open again after so long of being closed, and everyone hopes they can continue to be one of the great places to see a show in Maine. They don’t have a fancy website, but they really don’t need it. The venue will draw people on it’s own without excessive advertising.

One Longfellow Square

While the small size and capacity (roughly 200 people) give each show an intimate feel, the staff at One Longfellow Square still manage to bring some of the biggest names in the acoustic/folk genre. Acts like Greg Brown and Bill Morrisey sell out fast, and seeing a show there is truly a pleasure if you want some good sounding singer/songwriter acoustic music. It draws a very “NPR” kind of crowd, and for the kind of music it has, it’s not a bad thing at all.

The Merrill Auditorium

Not much bad can be said about this beautiful place. It sounds amazing, hosts lots of classical music, folk, and light rock shows and is simply ear candy. By far one of the best sounding rooms in Maine, the Merrill Auditorium is located in the same sturdy building as the Portland Town Hall, so if you’ve ever paid a parking ticket, you were right there. You must experience it for yourself.

These are just a few of some of the best live music venues in Portland, what are your favorites?

Here’s some more from Mike Gordon’s last performance at the PCMH:

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