Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Maxwell's R.I.P.

I read the news today...Maxwell's, a rock n' roll institution in Hoboken, New Jersey is shutting it's doors at the end of July.  Maxwell's looms large in my music life from the first time I set foot there in December 1985 to see Lord John open for Mod Fun (I only know it was December as there were Xmas wreaths hanging on the stage in pics I've seen of the show and it was fucking freezing in there!).  I had my very first DJ night there in 1994 ("**** ******'s Mad Mod Ball"), tried (unsuccessfully) to pull my wife at a gig there once (five years prior to our first date), met good friends there for the first time and rang in my 21st B-Day there (two years after I'd been drinking there illegally already) with my pal Larry Grogan one sleepy Sunday night where we downed pint after pint of John Courage on draught and played "Downtown" on the juke so many times the bartender unplugged it.  The food and drink were always great, the jukebox was the best in the world . I remember playing the shit out of The James Taylor Quartet's debut 45 "Blow Up" one night right after it was released about half a dozen times, swilling pint after pint and leaning on the wall next to it that led to the basement there thinking I was "the face" in my dark silver grey mohair jacket and backcomb. I saw some of the best gigs I've ever seen there and the sound was almost always exceptional. The place was always in good shape, it wasn't some hole in the wall and there was very rarely ever any issues with the crowd. I remember watching The Secret Service's debut gig there opening for what would be one of Mod Fun's last gigs there in June of 1986 and then I remember what would be one of The Secret Service's last gigs at Maxwells in late 1988. All of my friends who were friends before they had bands gigged there, like The Insomniacs debut gig there on an opening slot for The Fleshtones where they were introduced by Pete Zaremba. I remember the night The Grip Weeds played on a weeknight in early 1989 and I had several hundred dollars in my pocket from a scooter I'd got the final payment on at the gig (my beloved but maligned Vespa P200E) and drank a record 14 pints of John Courage and went home penniless! I watched my pals and one time "local team", Trenton's own Swingin' Neckbreakers play their very first gig there on a weeknight opening for The Lyres to about 25 punters, six months later they were packing the place. I remember S.F's Loved Ones and The Insomniacs playing to about 25 people on a Sunday night and being out of my brain on Double Diamond.  I remember having a drink with Phil May and talking about psychedelia. I remember Mole from The Embrooks being surprised that my friend Haim and I were drinking Double Diamond and saying "That stuf'll kill ya, navvies drink that!".

I grew away from Maxwell's eventually, moved too far away, was put off by the long drive, the nightmarish parking situation there and just grew tired of going to gigs even before the need for a babysitter or a hotel room came into the picture.  The Dive on New York's West side (257 West 29th Street to be exact) might've been my own version of The Scene Club of the 80's but Maxwell's was my Marquee, for the 80's, the 90's and the 2000's. Farewell old friend.

AND my old pals the Insomniacs and The Swingin' Neckbreakers are playing a last gig there on June 22:

https://www.facebook.com/events/596802763677540/?ref=2

With that in mind I'd like to pay tribute to all the bands (that I can pull from my memory) I was privileged to see there (in no order of preference, chronology or even like, hell at least a quarter of these I didn't like but shared a bill with someone I did!):

The Mod Fun, The Lyres, The Secret Service, The Embrooks, The Friggs, The Swingin' Neckbreakers, The Insomniacs, The Electric Nubians, The Stairs, The Loved Ones, El Vez, The Grip Weeds, The Muffs, Laika & The Cosmonauts, The Omega Men, The Kaisers, The Anderson Council, The Psychedelic Furs, Lord John, The Grievous Angels, The Vipers, The Fleshtones, Untamed Youth, The Real Kids, The Television Personalities, Mooney Suzuki, The Black Hollies, The Nashville Ramblers,The Rising Storm, The Spectors, The Creatures of the Golden Dawn,  The Gants, Clive Pig, The Pretty Things, The Chesterfield Kings, The Trashwomen, The Cynics, The Loved Ones, Holly Golightly, The Woggles, The Dirty Knees, Man Or Astroman, Slaughter & The Dogs, Southern Culture On the Skids, Tiny Lights, The Press, The Monomen, The Makers, The Flat Duo Jets, The Hentchmen, The 27 Various, The Neaderthals, Los Straitjackets.....


October 1994 the men behind "Anorak Thing" and "Funky 16 Corners" and "Iron Leg" compare close cropped haircuts at a Spectors gig at Maxwells.

6 comments:

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

I remember Mad Mod Ball (w/ Amanda) and The Loved Ones/Insomniacs - both before I met you, though I knew who you were! So many fun times - I'll really miss it.

funky16corners said...

Great piece. There were a few bands on your list that I had forgotten about seeing there!

C said...

Lovely memories from your life across the pond - and what an impressive gig list :-)

Wilthomer said...

Thanks Larry! I'm sure there are more bands but 28 years is a long stretch to try to recall, I'm sure I'll add them if I recall any more!!

Mike said...

I had no idea that the Mod Fun/Lord John show was your first time at Maxwell's. It was my second - I'd gone up there to see a couple of now-forgotten bands months earlier.