Venue Review: Maine State Pier

Maine State Pier

Portland, Maine

Outdoor venues can be complicated. Some have seating, some don’t, sometimes they have seating depending on the show, others have an awning or covering, many others don’t. 

Located on the historic waterfront in Portland, Maine, the Maine State Pier has hosted numerous concerts throughout the years and can draw large names and crowds.

Portland is a tricky city if you don’t know your way around. Much like Boston there are a plethora of one way streets that will have you wondering where the hell to go if you make a few too many wrong turns. Luckily, the Maine State Pier is located on a two way street on the waterfront of Commercial Street. Ocean breezes and the cry of seagulls with the occasional blast of a horn from a fishing boat or cruise ship create for a unique and memorable atmosphere. Seafood resturants and bars line the street on both sides and can offer a nice meal before or after the show. For a true Maine experience we recommend Portland Lobster Company. Craft beers and fresh caught lobster are some of the best in the city. Beer lovers should head towards the opposite end of Commercial Street and tour the Shipyard Brewing Co. headquarters.  

Parking is limited in Portland, especially during the summer. All the garages around the city are packed with cars from around the continent (mainly Massachusetts, Quebec, and Ontario). There is a garage spitting distance from the venue but it is almost always full, and quite expensive. We recommend finding a place, any place to park and walking to the venue; it will save time and headaches. Location: 8 Accessibility: 7

The venue is large, they literally placed a stage on the end of the pier and said, “Let’s do this.” Large crowds are no problem here. Crowd capacity: 10

Sound quality is something that is vital to a good show, and many outdoor venues struggle with this due to acoustics. With nothing but wide open space, the sound tech does a great job of creating a nice sound, something many would struggle with in an arena setting. Sound quality: 8

Despite being down the street from a brewery in a town that is overflowing with bars and dives, the drink selection at Maine State Pier is pitiful. Two beers and two choices of wine are all that were available at the last show we attended. What’s worse is they separate those with and without drinks. If you attend the show with someone under 21 and want to have a drink, you’ll have to do that standing by yourself. There is literally a divider between the crowd (cables running from stage to soundboard) that divides the crowd. The biggest problem is that the restrooms are located on the non drinking side, meaning if you need to piss you’d better finish your drink first. Drink offers: 2

Staff and security are what you’d expect at any venue. Full pat-downs and wands/metal detectors at the entrance. Staff is friendly enough to land a good score. Staff: 9 Security: 10

Nobody wants to see a show at a dirty venue. Maine State Pier and their staff do a great job of keeping the venue clean and clear of trash.  Cleanliness: 10

Maine State Pier is large enough to generate enough revenue to draw large bands. For example, last year Flogging Molly was one of the larger acts at MSP. Shows at the venue are limited, but when they do host a show it is worth seeing. Expected shows & tours: 9

My experience at Maine State Pier was less than enjoyable. Living out of state really doesn’t give me the leisure of being able to comfortably drive to and from a show in a day so I booked a hotel room with a friend for the weekend. Walking to the venue from the hotel was no problem, neither was getting in. But once we entered the venue it became complicated. As mentioned before, the venue is split in two between those who are drinking and those who are not. After finally figuring that out and selecting a drink from the minuscule selection my friend and I found a nice spot to stand; close to the front, but not right against the barrier. All was going well right up until the second act took the stage. As mentioned before, Maine State Pier is an open air venue with no cover. The skies opened up and a torrential downpour soaked the everyone in the crowd. My waterproof jacket soaked through, my shoes were ruined, and my jeans had already shrunk one size. Not wanting to get sick I opted to leave halfway through the second performance and head back to the hotel. For a concert I spent nearly $200 on (all expenses included), not being able to watch the headlining act was very disappointing. Overall experience: 3*

**Disclaimer: Just because I had a lousy time does not mean you will. Just be sure to double and triple check the weather forecast.