Georgia Hubley and James McNew of Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's. The famed Hoboken club will close at the end of July.
Maxwell's, the little club that put Hoboken, NJ on the musical map and has kept it there for more than 30 years, will close at the end of next month. The news began to spread through Twitter this afternoon, with many comments referring to an article that appeared today on NJ.com.
Ironically, the reason is not an astronomical rent hike, as with so many other rock clubs in the NYC area. Instead, Maxwell's co-owner and booker Todd Abramson cites the city's changing demographics and the increasing difficulty in finding parking that customers, and bands, have found. Parking has always been tight, and it's gotten even more challenging in the last few years. A number of new high-rise apartment buildings have gone up in the uptown area of Hoboken where Maxwell's is located.
Maxwell's opened in 1978 and soon became known because of a number of up-and-coming bands that lived in or hung around Hoboken, including The Bongos, the dB's, and The Individuals.
This is obviously a huge loss for Hoboken and the NYC-area music scene. I started going to shows at Maxwell's in 1980, and can't even count how many shows I've seen there in the succeeding 30-plus years. In addition to the ones mentioned above, there was a rising Athens, Ga. band called R.E.M. (I saw them at Maxwell's in 1981, back when Michael Stipe still had hair).
They hosted many other bands that eventually became big stars; unfortunately, I missed them because I wasn't yet familiar with them. But folks who were more in the know than me were able to see Beck, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden.
I did manage to see Throwing Muses, which played there many times (though unfortunately I didn't see them at Maxwell's until after Tanya Donnelly had left the band). In the last year or so I've seen bands there including Dum Dum Girls, Screaming Females, Trophy Scars, The Lemonheads, and the Psychedelic Furs (who played Maxwell's during their heyday in the 1980s).
And to kind of bring things full circle, last year I saw The Baseball Project at Maxwell's—a band that includes two former members of R.E.M.
Who else did I see at Maxwell's? I can't remember them all, of course, but some of the bands that stick out include The Fall, The Fleshtones, Japandroids, Lee Bains III and the Holy Fire, The Muffs, and of course Yo La Tengo (I may add more names as they come to me).
I'd already bought tickets to a few more shows at Maxwell's before I heard of the closing, including Rachael Yamagata and Titus Andronicus (whose one show became a two- and now three-night stand). I'll probably get tickets to a couple of more (sooner rather than later, since there may be a higher demand for the Last Shows Ever at the club).
Among the other acts appearing at Maxwell's in its last month-and-a-half: ChickFactor 21st anniversary show with The Pastels and Condo F*cks (June 15th), Sinkane (June 16th), Sky Ferreira (June 17th), The Trophy Scars performing "Goodnight Alchemy" (June 22nd), Os Mutantes (June 28th), The Feelies (July 4th, 5th, and 6th), The Flamin' Groovies (July 7th), and ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (July 23rd).
Many clubs have come and gone over the last few decades, and it's always sad to see a much-loved venue close. For me, this one hurts more than all the others combined. The good news is that there are still more nights of rocking to come at the legendary club at the corner of 11th and Washington.
[UPDATE, June 7th: More dates have been added, most of which (such as Ted Leo) quickly sold out. As of this writing, tickets for The Muffs are still available, as are those for Lee Ranaldo and The Dust.
Abramson has said that he plans to have the club go out the way it started, with a reunion of the band called "a" on July 31st (though the show does not yet appear on the Maxwell's website). That band, whose members went on to The Bongos and The Individuals, were the first act to play Maxwell's back in 1978.]