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Marie Stella's EP-release show was as much a social happening as it was a concert.

As Dead Man's Clothes took the stage, confirming that their recent Best New Act victory at the Bimpys was richly deserved (and clad in handwritten Marie Stella shirts), some past and present members of the headliners were bowling in this new 58 Alder St. spot's pristine lanes, bouncing back and forth to absorb (or, in guitarist Bryan Bruchman's case, photograph) the opening band. Lead singer Don Dumont's vocal level was low through the first half of the set, but the band's intricate and propulsive guitar interplay exhilarated as the mix was worked out. (This was the first proper concert at the venue, but they've got a reasonable system worked out: if you just want to bowl, shoe rentals are free after paying the cover.)

New York's the Art of Shooting lost the crowd, despite (or, it seemed, maybe because of) their polished and forthright rock. The venue's island bar and a surrounding lean-to table were overwhelmed with local drinkers, who finally migrated back to the floor during a fantastic cover of Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure."

As for the headliners, they were pelted with candy and the odd bag of beef jerky throughout their muscular set, promoting their new EP, Trust. Marie Stella have undergone a series of lineup changes, but the current four-member cast of Sydney Bourke (bass and poised vocals), Bryan Bruchman and Matthew Erickson (who have a great good cop/bad cop guitar routine going), and upbeat drummer Max Heinz is their liveliest grouping yet. It's heartening to see an always-solid band continue to improve in Portland; this set, and Trust, make a strong case for their continued vitality. There's a reason they were thrown the candy: they'd already given us the sugar.

Related: Must be Marie, A groundswell of support for Eastwave Radio, Musings and mutterings from the worlds of Maine music, More more >
  Topics: New England Music News , Entertainment, Music, Concerts and Tour Dates,  More more >
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