As a teasing look back at the history of Maxwell's, I felt I needed the balance out the loving tributes with some good ol' griping. All of these complaints can be filed under First World Problems. Left of this list are things like young whipper snappers who talk during the sets, old creepy guys and chicks I met at the shows who don't text me back even though I bought them a drink. What up with that?
5. Crappy Opening Bands -- I've been reading all of the retrospectives on Maxwell's and the myriad of legendary bands that have played there. Let's not forget that the majority of the bands that played there are shitty local bands or transplanted Williamsburg bands. One example, Hockey opening up for Portugal The Man. Terrible. The joint was my fall back places in case nothing decent was playing in NYC or Philly. I would look at the website and be like, "Who the hell is this?" I've seen my share of mediocrity. When I was thinking back on the Franz Ferdinand gig, there was a some no-name band opening which name escapes me. If it's a low-key show, you can leave the room for a pint, but then you loose your spot upfront or on the risers on the left. There was one time I had to suffer through Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot just so I can get a good spot for headliners Tokyo Police Club.
4. Getting I.D.'d Everytime Even Though I Am Clearly Over 21 -- This is in every bar in general. When I was going to college in the mid-90s, bars and venues barely carded. Then in 2000s, it shifted to carding if you looked on the young side. That's sensible. Now, you can be in a wheelchair wearing those big sunglasses that you wear if you had cataracts surgery and you will still be carded. If you don't have ID, no entrance for you. So I still have to do that dance where I get my wallet out, show my ID, the bouncer says to take your ID out, I take my ID out, he studies if like I'm some 20-year old passing off as a 38-year old, then he gives me a wristband that will rip my arm hair out when I tear that sucker off. Enough, I'm sure the Hoboken cops have better things to do than making sure I'm wearing an over-21 wristband.
3. The Scattershot Soundsystem -- Yeah, even when I was going there in my college years to see Ben Folds Five, Man or Astroman?, Delta 72 and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the sound either made my ears bleed or be so distorted that I couldn't make out what anybody was saying. Nothing much has changed. Sound in small rooms will always stink. Feedback is common, levels will be off and monitors will be shot. Even Toddphonic was retelling how Jack White screamed at the soundguy during a White Stripes show in 2000, and vowed never to come back. I guess he never did.
On that same level, the lights left nothing to be desired. I could never get a decent photo. Yeah, first world problems.
2. The Men's Bathroom -- One toilet, one urinal, one sink. For the ladies, two toilets, two sinks, two seperate rooms. Both have epic long waits after a gig. It's not the legendary CBGBs bathrooms, but taking a quick leak required you to hold your breath and using your elbow or foot to flush. Another Maxwell's memory from Toddphonic, Leif Garrett was getting it on in the women's bathroom. That's disgusting on so many levels.
1. Getting To Maxwell's -- Okay, the parking. In the 20 years I've been going to Hoboken, I think I have parked on the street twice. Every other time, it's been in a parking deck. I'm thinking I've spent $3000 on Hoboken parking in my lifetime. Luckily, Maxwell's validated parking to the departed Park on Park, which was right at Hoboken's city limits, so you don't have brave driving through town. That was torn down, leaving the Maxwell's Place parking deck. $5 for 3 hours, which is fine. The last Yo Lo Tengo show I had to drive on a Saturday night. I live 12 miles away, and it took me an hour to get from my house to the parking deck. Now I know what it's like to live in L.A. The Hoboken exit on 495 to The Lincoln Tunnel is a clusterfuck. Driving through the streets to get to that Maxwell's Place is a nightmare.
Thus, for the past year, I've just been using public transportation from NYC or from Montclair. Last Friday, for the Wild Nothing show, the PATH was out. Brilliant. Typical.
For New Yorkers, the mystique of getting off the PATH and that long, 25-30 minute walk to Maxwell's via Washington St. has been gone for decades. Now, it's a gauntlet of debauchery and douchebaggery. The second you get off the PATH, you are met with noise from Texas Arizona or Teak. No matter which way you go, you will encounter drunkeness of epic proportions. Getting back is worse, you'll see fights, puking, pissing and my least favorite, the 10-12 person wolf pack of post-collegiate frat boys looking to start trouble in a drunken rage. It feels like the fall of Saigon.
While the parking is the first thing that is mentioned on why the venue is closing, it's more of a symbol of the gentification of Hoboken.