Writer Rachael Dowd explores the 8123 community around the Arizona natives.
The year was 2010 and I was just celebrating my 16th birthday. My friends and I flocked to Seattle’s The Showbox for the Harmony Tour with Never Shout Never where The Maine, a five-piece band hailing from Arizona, were supporting the tour. I was no stranger to The Maine, having been a fan of theirs since their shaggy-haired The Way We Talk days.
However, while I still remember their performance like it was yesterday, it was what happened afterward that has always stuck with me. On a bitterly cold October night, I stood outside the band’s tour bus, hoping they would come out and say hello. Little did I know that The Maine have built a strong foundation with their fans not many other bands have been able to accomplish.
After every show, rain or shine, the boys would brave the weather to greet their adoring fans. From taking goofy pictures to signing autographs, The Maine interacts with their fans as if they are just catching up with friends. They always take time out of their busy schedule to connect, even for only a few minutes.
My show was no exception. As someone who has met many musicians in her life, no one has ever quite stood out as The Maine did on that autumn night. I was a fresh-faced fan meeting the band for the first time, and they welcomed me in with such warmth and sincerity, asking me about my life and how I liked the show. It felt like I was reconnecting with old friends and not meeting musicians in one of my favourite bands.
The Maine check their egos at the door and truly aren’t afraid to be themselves. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet them several more times over the years. Each interaction has continued to be filled with warmth and graciousness, the band never appearing rushed to escape their fan interactions. Instead, they go out of their way to make sure they can continue to make those connections, no matter where they may be.
My story is not an anomaly when it comes to The Maine. As five guys from Arizona, they’ve managed to create a fanbase that stretches worldwide, known as 8123. What started out as the address for a parking garage the band used to hang out in has quickly transformed into a global fan movement.
For fan Jordan Wyman, 8123 is a tight-knit group in the Seattle area he has continued to see over the years, creating an inclusive environment where everyone can support the band together.
“My favorite aspect of this community personally is how small it is,” said Wyman. “When you start recognizing people who come to all [of] the shows, there’s something comforting about sharing a finite time in a space with people you have been friends with for years, and people you may only see at [The] Maine shows.”
Another powerful bond within the community comes from the friendships fans make with each other. Logan Buhler, a long-time The Maine fan, shares that she met one of her best friends because of the band, a common connection within the 8123 community.
“I met one of my best friends when I went alone to one of their shows,” said Buhler. “A couple of months later, we flew to Warped Tour together [to see them perform]. We’re still traveling together in the name of The Maine to this day.”
The Maine’s community is so tight-knit and supportive that the band even created their own festival just for the fans. Every January, thousands of fans travel to Arizona for 8123 Fest, a weekend celebrating the anniversary of them becoming a band. Along with DJs sets and afterparties, the event is filled with live music from the likes of The Summer Set, 3OH!3, Mayday Parade, and, of course, The Maine.
In addition to the fest, they have executed numerous other efforts for fans, including always free meet-and-greets, live concert streams in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, pop-up shops with the latest merchandise and cold calls to those who pre-order their albums. More recently, they announced 8123 Day, a special once-in-a-century concert celebrating their fanbase that is set to happen on August 01, 2023, or 8.1.23.
The Maine are constantly reinventing one-of-a-kind experiences for fans. They aren’t afraid to try something new if it means connecting with their fanbase even more deeply.
Meaghan Lincoln, a fan based in Seattle, says that the effort they exert to produce new experiences for their listeners is second to none.
“The Maine go above and beyond in creating unique experiences and festivals for their fans and I’ve never experienced something like that from another artist.”
For the fans, the band have been there through major milestones, acting as the soundtrack to their lives while they deal with the ebb and flow of life. Meaghan further shares that the community surrounding the band’s music has created a sense of vulnerability and comfort, unlike anything she has experienced with other bands.
“The Maine represents a community of validation and understanding that if you’re not okay right now, you will be,” said Lincoln. “It’s a band of five individuals that have created community through their music and invited strangers to some of their most intimate and vulnerable thoughts.”
With eight studio albums under their belts, The Maine have over 15 years of music for listeners to resonate with, with no topic left untouched. Their music spans numerous subjects and situations that one can’t help but identify with.
This broad scope of music that reaches all aspects of life is part of the reason listeners feel so strongly about the band and the music they make. Fans feel seen when they listen to their music, creating a connection that can’t easily be broken. Whatever someone may be going through, there is a The Maine song out there that fits their situation, comforting them as they deal with life’s stressors.
The community surrounding them and the dedication and passion the fans have for the music they create are powerful and cannot be undone. The Maine constantly seek new ways to make their fans feel seen, heard and admired and listeners easily reciprocate that adoration. As fan Jordan Wyman puts it simply,
“It’s that comfort and admiration for these boys that keep me, and many others, coming back to them and probably will continue doing so for years to come.”