Maxwell’s Final Night : Hoboken The Mourning After

by Lauren Bull
Maxwell's in the rain today. (We didn't plan this.)

Maxwell’s in the rain today. (We didn’t plan this.)


Maxwell’s, a rock club, bar, restaurant, and Keeper of Hoboken’s Cool, ended its run last night after 35 years. Lots of people gathered outside to say goodbye, sip a few beers, and just keep watch. It had already been a month-long wake for many residents and non-residents, filled with all that wake-y language: Such a shame. A real loss. The end of an era. And you know how wakes go. Some people are laughing on one side, some are crying on the other, and then they rotate.

I think the thing I liked most about Maxwell’s is that it had great equalizing power. People more famous, more talented, more a part of it than you — even while performing onstage — appeared to be your exact height. It was an understated place with a medium build and a simple name that wasn’t just beloved, but also truly, thoroughly, wonderfully specific. A few years ago, I interviewed a musician who was booked to play Maxwell’s a few weeks later. “Have you ever been there before?” I asked. “No,” he said. “But I hear I’m going to love it.” “Oh, you definitely are,” I said. “And I don’t even know you.” You can’t say that about just any place, but then again, not every business closes out with a block party, either.

So now what? New places will keep opening up. Maybe one of them will be called The Cheetah’s Tail, and maybe bottle service will be roughly $46,000 per table, and maybe there will be a man on stilts who tosses condoms in the air, and maybe the TVs will be 150-feet wide, and maybe the walls will be shark tanks. Maybe it will be fun, or maybe it won’t. But hopefully the one thing that place and all the others take from Maxwell’s is that “big” doesn’t have to be literal. “Big” can still be a good buddy and his new songs.

Alas, those pretty feelings aren’t enough to cover the ugly rent, or change the parking, or turn things back around when they’ve already started moving quickly in a different direction. But even in the end, Maxwell’s didn’t go over-the-top to get attention, which is probably why it got so much love.

About the Author/s

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Lauren is a neurotic writer living in Jersey City. She could watch Jacques Pépin slice an onion on an endless loop. She edits The Digest and The Digest Online. @ltbullington

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1 comment

kevin cale August 2, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Great article Lauren! It is so sad what is happening with this city. Once a thriving art mecca… now???


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