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The Maine celebrate sixteen years as a band in London

London, O2 Forum Kentish Town, 26 April 2024

Photo: Thomas Berridge

Teenage life can be hard and few of us come out unscathed, but that's what makes a band The Maine Come in.

Founded over 16 years ago by five Arizona natives, The Maine has built a fan base that spans the globe since 2007. A community that often feels more like a family, it is known as 8123. The parking garage address where the five once hung out has become a tight-knit, inclusive collective fueled by strong bonds and deep connections.

With nine studio albums under their belt and sixteen years into their career, The Maine seem to have a song for every occasion. From heartbreak and painful goodbyes to new loves and old friendships, they have long served as a place of safety and solace for thousands of misfits, many of whom find a sense of home and community in their music.

Since signing their first record deal in 2007, they have kept the same line-up: John O'Callaghan, Kennedy Brock, Jared Monaco, Garrett Nickelsen and Pat Kirch are not your traditional rock stars. The five musicians interact with their fans as if they were good friends and have earned a reputation for the warm welcome and warm reconnections extended to those who love their music. 8123 is a place where egos are checked at the door and everyone is welcome, making a conscious effort to spend quality time with those who come to each show.

Photo: Thomas Berridge

As a tribute to the last sixteen years, it's finally London's turn to experience the band's “Sweet 16 Tour,” a career-spanning set featuring songs from every chapter of The Maine. Over two thousand fans shuffle into the room, whether they first heard the band while watching YouTube videos of their 2009 Vans Warped Tour sets or whether they joined the party later, there's room for everyone at 8123 – and there is tonight a celebration of it.

A glittering silver backdrop behind the stage, a disco ball dangling from the ceiling, the band dancing on stage to the pulsating “Dose No.2”. John welcomes the London crowd to their sixteenth birthday party and, after just a few minutes on stage, asks them to stand as the entire room stands at attention.

A sold-out venue of 2,300 people all listened to the lively hustle and bustle of “Diet Soda Society” and the breezy, thoughtful strains of “I think about you all the time” as John made his way off the stage to sing along in the front row until the hit “Right Girl” from 2010, the energy of the evening is in full swing.

Photo: Thomas Berridge

“Our band is called The Maine. We're from Phoenix, Arizona… far, far away from here,” The frontman smiles.

“I guess tonight is a highlight of the last 16 years, so we better play some old stuff!”

2010's “Saving Grace” and “Whoever She Is” are being performed in the city for the first time, while fan-favorite “American Candy” “English Girls” makes a welcome return to the set (taking a Audience vote against “Slip The Noose” won). '), if it's 'old shit', someone came tonight – The Maine deliver. “Like We Did (Windows Down)” takes time to indulge in nostalgia, with Kennedy taking on vocal duties, John's arm around the guitarists' shoulders as their voices harmonize.

“How many of you bastards out there feel fucking old right now?” The frontman laughs.

“Maybe you’re right, but I’m right too… I’m on your team!”

While remembering the past is certainly high on the agenda tonight, there is still plenty of time for the present. The release of their self-titled album in 2023 is triggering huge sing-alongs with “How to Exit a Room”, “Blame” and “Thoughts I Have While Lying in Bed”, while the standalone track “Loved You A Little” is already getting loud reactions in advance causes the lack of guest singers Charlotte Sands And Take back SundayThis is Adam Lazzara.

Photo: Thomas Berridge

A reminder that The Maine has not only survived the last sixteen years, but also triumphed in its evolution. As a euphoric version of “Numb Without You” echoed through the room, it seemed as if the smiles on the five faces on stage would do the trick. It doesn't get any wider.

“This is crazy! I didn't think anyone would show up tonight“, laughs John.

“Even if you have work tomorrow… you don’t have work. Tell your boss that some 36-year-old man said it was OK.”

An invitation to let go, after the frontman jokes that they'll be playing for another twelve hours (a joke that many in the room wish was true), he calls on everyone to put their “modern lighters” in the air to stretch. The raw, gritty swagger of 2013's closer Forever Halloween provides a fleeting moment of calm as John hops into the middle of the pit to befriend those in it, making a simple request for the rest of the evening.

“You can do whatever you want, you bought the tickets, but I would beg you to put your phones in your pockets now… This shit is on YouTube, you can watch it online!”

As he skips grinning through the crowd, inviting them to borrow his microphone to belt out “Sticky” lines, any barrier that may have existed between those on stage and those below is shattered. The band invited a member of the audience on stage for “Girls Do What They Want” – a fan from the Netherlands who John dubbed “a big Justin Bieber” – and coached him through the performance while giving the audience words of encouragement shouted.

The whole room is dancing and singing, every moment of the night a reminder that life is too short not to have a good time, and no one knows that better than the five men on stage. A room full of people who have found a home in their band over the last sixteen years and whose gratitude shines through every note.

“We’re getting old, there’s no getting around it… but this feels fucking amazing.” John nods.

“We don’t deserve you!”

A final statement that everyone in the room would certainly not agree with, as “Another Night On Mars” marks the emotional conclusion of the night and there is no doubt that The Maine are an incredibly special band. Five boys from Arizona with a lot of songs and a lot of love, they've created a family like no other, and in a world full of uncertainty and discomfort – tonight is proof of how important that is.

Anna Harden

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