Looking into the Mirror: The Maine at Varsity Theater

John O'callaghan of The Maine by Katie Ahrens

It’s a Saturday night and fans of The Maine are filling Varsity Theater to the brim. After much anticipation, The Mirror tour is finally making a stop in Minneapolis. With the venue packed full for the two-act event, it’s sure to be a memorable show.

A Band “Everybody’s Talkin'” About

Twin XL by Katie Ahrens

Old fans of The Summer Set are in for a treat as former members John and Stephan Gomez enter the stage with their new band, Twin XL.

They all come out about ten after seven as a neon sign that says “XL” lights up the center of the stage. A speaker fills the empty spaces, telling the audience that they are in the presence of Twin XL and that they are having fun.

The four-piece band soon brings comfort to Varsity Theater with warm indie-rock tones that heat the frigid Midwest venue.

Twin XL by Katie Ahrens

About four songs into their set, they pay tribute to The Maine’s own John O’Callaghan by performing “Melt” – the song that they claim was written about the Arizona frontman.

Twin XL has a cool road trip rock vibe and a playful presence while on stage. This is made pretty clear as they drop a cover of Smash Mouth’s “All Star” in the middle of “Everybody’s Talkin’.” Or in other words, they play the one tune that’s guaranteed to make everyone within earshot burst out in song. (It works.)

Lights Up!

Before playing one of their final songs, frontman Cameron Walker-Wright commands that the audience shine their cellphone lights.

This will only work if every single one of you does this, and I WILL call you out if you don’t!

-Cameron Walker Wright

Obliging, the fans fill up the venue with even more comfort and life.

Twin XL Fans by Katie Ahrens

They end their set with incredible use of a live autotune effect. When done right, this feature can really shine a new light on a piece, and Twin XL does it right. It feels very similar to a mix of 2012 fun. and The 1975.

It’s a great performance from a band who, based on their genre and attitude, are well-suited to open for The Maine.

You Are Ok

The Maine by Katie Ahrens

Fans off to the side of the room are able to see the members of The Maine as they enter the doors to the venue. Those in the audience begin cheering as the Arizona-based band walks backstage and prepares to start the show.

Anyone who follows the band has been waiting in anticipation for The Mirror tour, as it is what they’ve been claiming to be their “most ambitious tour to date.”

An introduction on their website states, “Step into The Mirror this fall… Join us for The Maine’s most ambitious tour to date. The Mirror will take you through a new immersive audio and visual experience unlike anything The Maine has done before.”

The tour is in support of their most recent album, You Are Ok.

A Little History

Garrett Nickelsen of the Maine by Katie Ahrens

The Maine stands out in more ways than one when it comes to their transformation and maturation over the years. What began as a carefree neon-punk band from the early 2000s has quickly become a beacon of hope and humbleness for members of the 8123 family.

Since forming in 2007, they’ve moved through several “sounds” and have displayed a profound mindset when it comes to how concerts should be run and how fans ought to be treated.

If you’re not The Maine’s number one fan already, there a few commendable things that they practice or have done of which you need to take note. The first is that they refuse to charge fans for meet and greets.

This is something they are adamant about, going so far as to come out and meet fans while they are waiting in line for shows. 

The Maine’s Festival Tent

Keeping in theme with monetary related issues in the music industry, one of the most outstanding things they did was go on a tour that was completely free to attend. The intention was to include fans who had never gotten the chance to experience seeing them live over financial reasons.

Not a Second Too Late

Though there are clearly many reasons to be a fan of a band as classy as The Maine, my favorite remains their live energy. The Maine places a heavy emphasis on making sure those in the room are carefree and sincerely enjoying themselves.

There’s an abundance of messages that tell fans to let go and allow themselves to experience. This show is no different, as the band steps onstage after a countdown and we are instantly awakened by the perfectly harmonized opening words to “Slip the Noose.”

Break down, hysteric and young.
Uncomfortably numb, then you sent my pain into oblivion.

-Slip The Noose
Kennedy Brock of The Maine by Katie Ahrens

Same Band, Different Suit

The Maine is dressed in this tour’s version of their classy coordinated suits. They swap out their matching suits with each new theme, and this time around its pinstriped with orange shirts.

As the night continues, those attending are pleased to hear at least one song off of each of their seven albums.

Older fans in the audience are particularly surprised and enthralled to hear Black & White deep cut, “Inside of You.”

John O’callaghan of The Maine by Katie Ahrens

The band doesn’t take long before sarcastically declaring how “seriously” they take themselves while on stage. Before needing to explicitly state this, O’Callaghan declares that one singular man with nice facial hair is the only cool person in the room, while the rest of us are left to remain uncool forever.

He checks in several times throughout the show just to make sure his bearded friend is continuously enjoying himself.

John O’callaghan of The Maine by Katie Ahrens

The Way We Talk

The Maine spends a fairly large amount of their performance time interacting with those in the audience. O’Callaghan takes a leisurely chunk of time doing this towards the end of their set when he runs offstage and back into the audience at the soundboard.

Though originally only meant to play one song there, he takes his time playing several covers as requested by those in the audience. He also spends time answering fan questions as if they were calling some sort of hotline to reach him.

You have a question? Hello! Welcome to the concert! Where are you calling from?

John O’Callaghan

Eventually, he does begin singing “(Un)lost,” which is the song he had intended to perform in the first place. During this, a particularly lucky fan finds herself at the soundboard with him, as he urges her to sing the final bits alone into the microphone.

Punk Papa Johns?

John O’callaghan of The Maine by Katie Ahrens

Once the band regroups onstage, someone, somewhere, for some reason still unknown, mentions Papa Johns. I’m not sure why or how, but it leads to the band getting the whole room to chant “F*ck Papa Johns!” repeatedly.

They, of course, take it one step further, and break out into an adlibbed metal performance of what I’m hoping is their next big single. This is complete with O’Callaghan yelling about the pizza joint screamo-style while thrashing around on stage with his bandmates.

I can confidently say that I have never seen that before.

Flowers on the Stage

All too soon, the night winds down and the band has only one song left. The lights dim and one of their crew members runs out and covers the stage with flowers. This, of course, ties into the theme of their final piece, “Flowers on the Grave.”

Stage Flowers by Katie Ahrens

Though it is slower and more mellow than their typical closer, it holds great sentiment for many in the crowd. Several fans have even brought their own flowers that they wave at the stage in time with the music.

As the song comes to a close, the band smiles and passes out setlists and guitar picks. They wish good health to all of their fans and say goodbye until next time.

As always, it is a beautiful, humbling end to a lively and inspirational performance.

Flowers on The Grave (Stage) by Katie Ahrens

A few weeks prior to this show, someone who hadn’t previously heard of The Maine asked me what they sounded like. Without hesitation, I answered, “Living.”

It’s true, no other band leaves fans feeling rejuvenated or aware of the goodness surrounding them quite like The Maine.

Thankfully, this show wasn’t any different.

The Maine Setlist:

  1. Slip the Noose
  2. My Best Habit
  3. Like We Did (Windows Down)
  4. Inside of You
  5. Don’t Come Down
  6. Heaven, We’re Already Here
  7. Am I Pretty?
  8. Fucked Up Kids
  9. Bad Behavior
  10. Lovely
  11. How Do You Feel?
  12. (Un)Lost
  13. Tears Won’t Cry (ShinjŪ)
  14. I Must Be Dreaming
  15. Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu
  16. Numb Without You
  17. Flowers on the Grave

Written by Katie Ahrens


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