Coast City Comics, a Portland comic book and collectibles store, every so often gets celebrity visits because of its location just a stone’s throw across Congress Street from The State Theatre.
On Saturday, a post on the store’s Facebook page proudly announced that rapper Waka Flocka Flame stopped by and bought a Nintendo 64 video game console before his show across the street.
Maybe it’s the walkable (Wakable?), welcoming nature of a small city like Portland that draws the music stars out into the community when they come to town. Or maybe it’s just that much more of a novelty to see celebrities in a small city like this, as opposed to a place like Los Angeles, where Hollywood A-listers are around every corner (or so we assume).
In any case, it’s something of an event when the big names come out and mingle in public, and here are five times in the last five years that’s happened.
Spoon stepped in to play with a band doing Spoon covers
The rock band Spoon, which twice topped the Billboard indie record charts, followed its State Theatre performance in June of last year with a surprise visit to an after-party at The Empire down the street.
There, local musician Jeff Beam’s band was playing two Spoon albums in their entireties, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
Spoon singer Britt Daniel hugged Beam, thanked him for the set, then proceeded to lead his own band in the performance of a couple of rare tracks they’d left out of their set at the State Theatre.
Danzig makes small talk
Glenn Danzig — founder of cult iconic punk/metal bands the Misfits, Samhain and the eponymous Danzig — visited local stores Strange Maine and the aforementioned Coast City Comics before playing the State Theatre last October.
Danzig has long cut an intimidating figure and garnered a reputation as a brawler over the years, but Coast City Comics owner Tristan Gallagher said he was quite personable over an hour’s worth of conversation there.
The singer, who has launched his own comic book label, wanted some blank comic book covers to draw on and put Gallagher and another store employee on the guest list for his show across the street that night.
Fun guitarist gets politically active
The pop rock band Fun — which already had two platinum singles by the time they played Portland in October of 2012 and would go on to claim a Grammy for Song of the Year just a few months later — wasn’t going to leave the city without getting politically involved.
Maine voters were slated to decide less than a week later whether to legalize same-sex marriage, and Fun guitarist Jack Antonoff took the unusual step of scheduling a string of impromptu interviews before the show to urge Mainers to vote “Yes.”
(The referendum did pass.)
“Weird Al” doodles on the counter
Back to Coast City Comics.
When “Weird Al” Yankovic played nearby in 2013, he came in ahead of his show, talked with customers and left with a Bill Murray T-shirt. He also added to the collection of doodles on the checkout counter at the store in what has become something of a tradition for celebrities who visit (Danzig did, too), although the Weird Al drawing has since faded.
Mumford & Sons head out with local fishermen
In what’s been credited as the show that revived the outdoor concert scene in Portland, Grammy winning folk rock band Mumford & Sons played before 15,000 people on the Eastern Promenade in August of 2012.
Band members famously endeared themselves to locals by visiting homes decorated for the show along the Eastern Prom and going out on the town after they played.
But heading out on a fishing boat? That’s unusual even for the most immersive bands.
“They talked us through the history,” keyboardist Ben Lovett told Rolling Stone of the local fishermen who gave them a little tour of the harbor. “I learned how good of life they have in many ways. Pete, who owned the boat, wasn’t too concerned [about] some of the problems that face people in the bigger cities — not freaking out about rush hour and social life. He just does his thing. It’s always good to be reminded of that.”