2013 Jul 22nd
As we pass the midpoint of July, we are now officially in the final few days of Hoboken’s rock ‘n roll landmark, Maxwell’s. They say it is closing because young Hoboken residents would rather watch the game than listen to live music but I have to take issue with that. What I heard through the grapevine is that the reason Maxwell’s is closing is because the landlord jacked up the rent.
In law school I learned that the nature of discourse is affected greatly by the way the issue is framed. Why frame the issue here as an “us vs. them” pitting music lovers against sports fans when the real issue may be the rising commercial rents on Washington Street? Every time I’ve been to Maxwells, and there have been quite a few, the back room was packed. Is something about how Maxwell’s is operated making it less than profitable? Or not profitable enough? Maybe that’s what needs to be discussed – not the popularity of sports over music.
Live music is undoubtedly a draw in Hoboken and elsewhere. Have you ever been to Jazz Fest, Coachella or Bonaroo? Closer to home – Bethel Woods is packed for almost every show. Then there’s the Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg Park, the Mercury Lounge, Irving Plaza, the Bowery Ballroom, the Bell House, the Beacon… the list goes on and on. All these venues manage to remain open and even thrive. Maybe the business profitability of Maxwell’s has nothing to do with Hoboken parking or audiences. Maybe they just needed to book different bands.
Howie and I love going to concerts and have been to Maxwell’s many times. We’ve seen many bands at small venues that later went on to bigger stages and world acclaim. Howie once saw Aerosmith at the Beacon Theater in Boston and sat next to Steve Tyler’s mother in the fifth row. I waitressed at My Father’s Place in Roslyn during the late 70’s, another long gone, legendary music venue. The Ramones stand out among so many other bands I enjoyed during that era. I wish I had kept a list of who I saw back then and now can’t quite remember. We both saw Foo Fighters at the Roseland Ballroom. Many incredible musicians that went on to great fame and fortune played at Maxwell’s over the years.
As a resident of Hoboken for the past 15 years, I think back with great fondness of the many great bands I’ve seen at Maxwell’s. The Psychedelic Furs, Fountains of Wayne, Ian Hunter, The Duke Spirit, Dick Dale, the incomparable El Vez… and who can forget the time Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze ran out the fire exit and we all followed him around the block, stopping for songs in front of the Elks Club before running back in to the club to watch him finish the set. Those were great shows and great memories. We will miss being able to walk down the block to go home when the music ends. Maybe, I hope, some other enterprising individual will see that music does appeal to many Hobokenites and will open a new venue.
What was the best show you ever saw at Maxwells?