I love Bangor. I love the neighborhoods, I love the downtown, and I even love the mall because I remember when it was ugly and the only places to eat at were Sizzler and McDonald’s. I love the restaurants and the bars and the little shops — Paul Bunyan, the Standpipe, Mount Hope and the line outside the Coffee Pot. I haven’t set foot inside Hollywood Slots, and I always end up going to the fair. I may end up halfway across the globe someday, but I’ll leave my heart in 04401.

I’m pretty sure Myke Billings feels the same way. The dude doesn’t eke out a living supporting local music and art if he doesn’t harbor some major affection for the Queen City.

“I’ve been there and back, and I’m still here,” he said. “It’s what I love. I’m in it for the long haul.”

That’s a big part of the reason this weekend’s first-ever Bangor Meltdown — set for 4-11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Bangor Civic Center — is building buzz around town. Let’s do the numbers: 18 vendors, 12 Maine visual artists, eight bands and DJs, four local fashion designers, and a Billings in a pear tree.

Music, naturally, is the centerpiece of the event. Established Maine bands such as the Napper Tandies, Big Time, and People and Things (aka the Andy Mead Band) rub shoulders with up-and-coming bands such as Angry James and Boheme, two young Orono-based groups that play song-heavy indie rock and aggressive alternative rock, respectively.

A couple of Hancock County-based groups round out the bill, including Ellsworth-based The Climactics, that will play an all-original set of funk-influenced rock, DJ KTF Terison from Portland, and Green Tank, a hip-hop crew that divides its time between Northeast Harbor and Bangor.

Then there’s the fashion courtesy of FX Dressed (Orono’s Jessie Sader), young designer Caitlyn Cogan, Bella Luna and Sophronia Designs. The visual art comes from Kat Johnson, Allison Melton, Louisa Sagendorph Donelson, Angela Warren, Billie Austin, Morgan Wren, Stephanie Hare, Randy Rackley, Katie Evelyn Conroy and VJ Pat Shaw. Stage design is by Chez Cherry. And local businesses and nonprofits will be plying their wares and offering information about their services. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

“There are so many people in town that never get a chance to show off their stuff,” said Billings. “It’s really great to put them in the spotlight. And not just the bands and fashion — the businesses. The crew doing makeup and hair. Freek Speely Productions is doing all the sound, and they made the T-shirts. It’s a lot more than just music.”

All the pieces that compose the Meltdown were assembled in a matter of weeks — the impetus to plan this started in November. Fortunately, some crucial local media helped promote the event, from TV commercials to well-placed fliers and ads. Facebook and MySpace, as always, helped seal the deal.

“I feel like it’s kind of like surfing,” said Billings. “There’s a lot of elements that need to come together to make it work. Here, I feel like it is. Bands, artists, businesses, media, sponsors. It came together really quickly.”

Bass Park and the Bangor Civic Center were on board from the get-go. Despite being an available resource in greater Bangor, few new events are staged at the civic center. Billings hopes to continue staging events, with a potential show set for May in the auditorium.

“The civic center feels kind of more legitimate. It’s the biggest venue you can get in this area,” said Billings. “When you get there, you’ve reached a certain level in Bangor.”

In the end though, it’s just a big party by Bangor, for Bangor.

“I just want to see everyone have a wicked good time,” said Billings.

Admission is $10; $7 for those over 21. Magic Hat Brewery will serve several beers during the event.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.