This is a tough post to write.
Let's start with the positive, work our way to the anger and sadness, then maybe what the heck is going through my mind.
The positive: Maxwell's existed. It made an impact on music, the bands and singers who played there, people's lives and Hoboken.
We know what the venue meant to band's just starting out who just needed a place to play. Bands that would later become legends -- Nirvana, New Order, Fugazi, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Feelies, The Buzzcocks, R.E.M., White Stripes. The flip side of that there are countless bands who are thankful just to play there and can say that they played in the venue where Springsteen shot "Glory Days" and where thousands of known bands got to play.
The astonishing aspect is that the venue was doing this strong for 35 years. Five years ago, Vampire Weekend was an opening act for Tokyo Police Club. Now they are headlining stadiums. The National, Phoenix, Weezer, Beck, The Strokes -- current big time acts that started at Maxwell's.
Maxwell's put Hoboken on the rock map. We know it's influence in the late 70s with power pop bands like the Feelies and Bongos influenced indie rock bands of the 80s like R.E.M. There's not a Hoboken music scene now, but at least there was one.
Looking through social media, you'll see hundreds of people offering their memories. I saw one post where somebody took their future wife to Maxwell's on their first date. I nearly died reading that. In Hoboken, it's the only bar where music snobs and the assorted people can hang.
The anger: The harsh truth ... Having produced three shows there, I can tell you from experience -- music venues don't make money booking bands. Music venues make money selling alcohol. Maxwell's competition isn't Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Glasslands, etc. Their competition is Pilsner Haus on Grand St., Pier 13 on Sinatra, Stewed Cow on Adams, Madison and Mikie Squared on Washington.
"The culture in Hoboken is driven by TV now. A lot of the bars downtown are fighting with each other for who has the most giant TVs. That's what Hoboken nightlife has become," Todd-honic said in the article and those are places I mentioned are what Maxwell's has to compete with. Guess who goes to those places? Douchebags with money and bad taste in music. Guys in cheap jeans, untucked Ralph Lauren Polo shirts and New Balance sneakers yelling in their smart phones, "Where you at, bro?" and girls with low self-esteem and low standards who will hook up with these guys. These are the same fuck-tards that forced Hoboken to cancel their St. Patrick's Day parade when the stabbing, rapping and river of vomit over-ran the day. This is why we can't have nice things.
That's one aspect of Hoboken. Another are well-to-do families snatching up condos and apartments that have sprung up all around Maxwell's. They can afford the parking and exorbitant rents. Todd talked about the parking in the article. Park at Park closed two months ago, where Maxwell's would validate for $5. It's now going to be ... wait for it ... a residential high-rise. Now, parking will cost you $30 on a Saturday night.
The sad thing -- this isn't news. It's the inevitable progress of urban areas. It's happening to hipster havens Williamsburg and Lower East Side. Don't be surprise when Mercury Lounge and Glasslands are shuttered for condos or a Duane Reade.Bowery Presents will sell its founding venue, Bowery Ballroom, to the highest bidder if they have the chance.
Maxwell's closing is the end of an era. The writing was on the wall. It feels like that girlfriend who breaks up with you and it catches you off guard. Then you look back at it and all the signs were there. You're just too enamored to see it.
It means the music scene and live rock music in NJ will suck. Asbury Park will have to pick up the slack. The Wellmont Theatre by me in Montclair doesn't have any bookings past June 20's MGMT show. What do you think is going to happen there?
It means up and coming bands won't be able to play Maxwell's and follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of bands that have done so.
It means the amazing staff of Maxwell's are out of jobs.
It means I won't be able to take my niece to a show there and tell her the amazing times I had there.
This is going to be rough couple of months. Not sure if I can handle going to the final night. I'm going to The Pastels, Os Mutantes and Night Beds gigs in the coming months. Hopefully, some big bands will get booked for the final weeks.
My thing. Still a lot to process. Maxwell's is why I'm a music snob. It was gateway to indie rock and live music in small venues. I guess in the coming weeks I'll be digging up old posts and photos. Maybe I'll contact a few bands to see if they have any memories they'd like to share.
Let's the lookback with a documentary on The Feelies and the Hoboken sound with some vintage shots of Maxwell's: