Good to the last note.
July 22, 2013 7:55 PM   Subscribe

After 35 years, Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, is closing. Once called "the best club in New York" by New York magazine, Maxwell's was ground zero for "The Hoboken Sound", with such bands as The Bongos, The Feelies, and Yo La Tengo playing there frequently. It was also the setting for Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days video.

An oral history of Maxwell's. Musicians, owners, and others recollect the past.

Bonus feature: The Hoboken Sound, a 47 minute documentary from 1985 on the bands that were playing in Hoboken.

For Hudson County residents mourning the coming loss, there is still hope that Todd Abramson will open something new in neighbouring Jersey City.
posted by fings (38 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Renoroc at 7:58 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by limeonaire at 8:00 PM on July 22, 2013

Jeez. I saw Yo La Tengo like 127 times there and I didn't even like them. I just liked Maxwell's.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

One of my best and oldest friends, Maxwell Feinstein, was named after Maxwell's. The story goes that his mother could hear him kicking around when she went to shows there, and she knew he'd be a musician even then. He's lived his entire life in Hoboken, and has been playing guitar pretty much all his life. A couple months ago he took me there, in part to convince me to move to Hoboken and live with him, and it worked; I'm moving there next week.

He's a pretty damn good musician; he raised money to record an album last year, and it's a good one. Maxwell's is, unsurprisingly, one of his favorite places in the world; it sucks that he'll never be able to play it there.

(The food was fucking excellent as well.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I hadn't thought about The Bongos in years, I think my band in high school tried to cover one of their songs, with not much success.

This is sad, but not the worst news I have heard today from that era of music.
posted by thelonius at 8:30 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


for a great club, and


for the good food (a deity-send to bands on the road).

Here's hoping Todd chooses to open a new place and/or continues to book the Bell House.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:43 PM on July 22, 2013

I've always been a wee bit sad that I never played there. Played CBGB several times but never Maxwell's. Darn. Sad to see 'em go.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:51 PM on July 22, 2013

Yep, no club has ever fed its bands as well, and Todd let my band open for The Divine Comedy one magical night a few years ago, so for that I will always be thankful. Rock on, Todd-O-Phonic Todd.
posted by mintcake! at 9:02 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by noway at 9:04 PM on July 22, 2013

(He's indeed sticking with Bell House, btw. He mentioned it on WFMU the day after he announced the impending closing.)
posted by mintcake! at 9:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

An oral history of Maxwell's. Musicians, owners, and others recollect the past.

Not ragging on this one at all (this is a general rant), and indeed, am a happy reader of e.g. Everybody Loves Our Town (a grunge oral history), but this oral history thing is starting to go too far i.e. not every story is best served by the format.

I just feel it's too easy to push the mundane into the historic - I thought that oral history of a random bar in NY that sold coke on the side a while back was a low point. I understand that's what the storytelling impulse is - an urge towards timelessness - I just feel I'm not interested in the stories a lot of the time (it's always hip media-connected places that get local-type stories published in this form) (not directed against you, Maxwell's)
posted by kersplunk at 9:06 PM on July 22, 2013

thelonius, that's a heartbreaker about Faye Hunter. I had no idea. Thanks for linking the obit.
posted by bakerina at 9:23 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:39 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by LionIndex at 9:42 PM on July 22, 2013

I don't think I ever went there, even though they hosted plenty of bands I'd have liked to see -- NYC had the smoking ban in place before NJ did, and so I went to shows in the city by preference. Wish I'd had the chance.
posted by asperity at 9:57 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by Gotanda at 10:57 PM on July 22, 2013

posted by subdee at 11:06 PM on July 22, 2013

I made the pilgrimage out there a couple times. It was a great place.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:28 PM on July 22, 2013

. Jeez. Loved that venue.
posted by xammerboy at 11:36 PM on July 22, 2013

No one is going to mention that of the two people quoted at the end of that article, the girl lives in Williamsburg, work in a toy stoy in the lower east side - a poster child for the Urban Cycle, and her boyfriend is called Beanbag Amerika?

Beanbag Amerika.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:40 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I mostly know of Maxwell's via Jesse Jarnow, who wrote for Spin about Yo La Tengo's last Maxwell's show, in addition to writing a book about YLT (among other, related subjects).
posted by knile at 12:53 AM on July 23, 2013

Good article by native and rock critic Jim DeRogatis.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:57 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Beanbag Amerika

Wonder where he was conceived?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:51 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Feelies — Away. Music video by Jonathan Demme, filmed at Maxwell's.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:01 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best FPP title ever.
posted by ardgedee at 4:02 AM on July 23, 2013

posted by whuppy at 4:46 AM on July 23, 2013

Could it get any more Maxwells-Hobokeny than Yo La Tengo and The Feelies covering the Velvet Underground?

(Click play and then background the tab because otherwise there will be another flamefest about handheld iPhone videos in portrait mode.)
posted by ardgedee at 5:20 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw Cub, The Muffs and Southern Culture on the Skids there on a New Years Eve triple bill. Great show, great place.
posted by jonmc at 5:39 AM on July 23, 2013

I used to go there to see the Minutemen whenever I could. It was nice knowing the place was still around. Ah well, so it goes.

posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on July 23, 2013

Damn, I love them Feelies.
posted by mintcake! at 6:21 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I haven't thought of The Feelies in years! It's too bad that the closing of the Maxwell is what prompts it though...
posted by Mister_A at 6:56 AM on July 23, 2013

Among other shows there, I once saw Tiny Lights (one of the best live acts around in the late 80s/early 90s) take the stage with Frank Sinatra, Jr, son of local famous son. Also, from the oral history link, it's odd to think of Husker Du never playing CBGB's.
posted by mollweide at 7:30 AM on July 23, 2013

When I was a kid living in Sacramento, I would often check the listings at Maxwells. All of my favourite bands would stop there on their tours and I would often discover new bands that never quite made it out here.

I feel pretty fortunate that I had the opportunity to play there a few years back. It was a weird night, but the venue was pretty great. (Ran into another Sheffield Wednesday supporter coming out of the train station, was not prepared for the drunk sports crowd on the walk down there, and the requisite band crankiness.) That was my only day in Hoboken. It was not entirely as I'd expected.
posted by kendrak at 7:40 AM on July 23, 2013

Jonmc, I was at that show! I am going to miss Maxwells (and my youth) so much ...
posted by armacy at 8:09 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I remember Tiny Lights! Great musicians. Had cello player before that was cool, iirc.
posted by thelonius at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2013

Related: Iconic NYC Music Venues, Then And Now
posted by milquetoast at 9:06 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not just any cello player, but Jane Scarpantoni.
posted by fings at 9:34 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cello, and electric violin (that wasn't as bad as it sounds). I'll be damned if Tiny Lights ever played the same song the same way twice.
posted by mollweide at 10:07 AM on July 23, 2013

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