A Long Kiss Goodbye with a Rock N Roll Landmark
Words by Martin Halo, Alex Napoliello, & Audra Tracy

Well, the good news is, you never have to go to Hoboken ever again. Because you see, the city’s only redeeming value was a little iconic rock club on the corner of Washington and 11th, where you could get a drink, order some perogies, and head into the tiny back room to catch some culture from a diverse cast of truly authentic live acts. And it breaks our hearts that the 200-capacity performance space is closing its curtain for good after 35 years of hosting bands including Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo.

As the rock n roll landmark shuts its doors forever, we share a long kiss goodbye with our old flame. Ladies and gentleman, our love letters to Maxwell’s…

The English Beat 05.05.10
Joe Papeo Photo

I was in love with you before ever meeting you. When people around you smiled, I couldn’t help but to wonder what you were saying. In a monochromatic town you were the only one standing apart — the lone spotlight. The only place that any god foresaken lover of rock n’ roll could stamp as home. Your crowd was eclectic, and your musk was raw. But the exterior of your skin was the tip of the iceberg to the character of your heart.

When I walked down the street and saw a man without a florescent polo and a popped collar, I knew where he laid his hat. You provided the identity and the history of pop culture in Hoboken. And on your last day I watched as young, old, straight, gay, white, black, tan, punk, hipster, reggae and rock all melted together as one. To me it is the very definition of a “scene.” Admittance is inclusive and respect shared. Sometimes, affection comes in the form of a crush. An attraction from afar, but lacking the understanding of what lies beneath the surface.

With you, I have seen your deeds and I have heard your thump. You have asked for nothing in return. I wish you had, because maybe today I wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

– Martin Halo, Waster Inc Founder/CEO

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears 08.20.10
Joe Russo Photo

Every year I feel like we (the music community at large) lose another small-scale music club. I have spent many sweaty nights listening to great, up-and-coming bands in your back room. I have also spent several occasions in the lounge area enjoying great spirits and food (well, I wouldn’t say ‘great’ food but good enough).

Growing up in North Jersey, I have several friends who now call Hoboken home. I’m not into clubs with loud house music. I’m seldom in the mood to go to a sports bar for the Giants or Jets game, or pack into an Irish pub with a bunch of popped-collared bro’s. So, when I’m visiting my friends, Maxwell’s is always a place I suggest first and is usually welcomed with the response, “I haven’t been there in forever.” Well, that’s why I’m writing this good-bye letter tonight. Maxwell’s is not the place to be anymore. I don’t know if it ever was, honestly. But that’s what I loved about you.

I’m not going to go into detail about how a place like Maxwell’s can no longer exist; too many articles have been written on the subject since you announced you were shutting down your doors. Bands will always find a place to play. There are tons of basements and D.I.Y. venues in the surrounding areas. New Jersey breeds a D.I.Y. mentality.

The problem is that those shows attract a crowd that is already familiar with the music. To attend an underground show, you have to be somewhat involved in the scene, or at least know someone who is. People used to go to Maxwell’s for a beer or two, stumble into the backroom, and discover a band they may have never listened to otherwise. Hell, it’s happened to me before and I’m on top of who’s playing where.

People don’t stumble into Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center hoping to discover a new band. But at Maxwell’s, people used to pay $8 for the hell of it, and then walk out with a new record because they were blown away by a band they never heard of.

That’s what I’ll miss about you the most – the spontaneity. And if it weren’t for that, I don’t think as many bands would call a place like Maxwell’s home.

– Alex Napoliello, Managing Editor

Titus Andronicus 07.16.13
Greg Harrison Photo

On the outside, you looked ordinary and kind of quaint. So not my type. But once you let me inside, and I got to know you, we just clicked. Like me, you were artsy and a little weird, but you had just enough attitude to be from New Jersey. And after one night with you, I thought to myself, ‘Maxwell’s, you totally get me’.

Sure, we had a casual romance over the years, and I’d come and go as I pleased. But even as my musical tastes evolved, you always knew what I needed, whether it was the brass business from The Budos Band, the polyphonic pleasures of Garage a Trois, or a Texas rubdown from White Denim. I wouldn’t change a thing about you, dear Maxwell’s, and I yearn for the day that we might meet again in a new city full of rock n roll promise.

– Audra Tracy, Editor in Chief

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