Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Maxwell's Is Closing

The End of a Very Short Era for Me

I'm not going to sit here and pretend that Maxwell's was a big part of my youth or young adult years. A good chunk of my prime, nightlife-consuming years actually happened very far away from New Jersey in Seattle. CoolMom and I didn't have an important, early bonding experience at Maxwell's. That actually took place during a Paul Westerberg concert at the Fastlane in Asbury Park. It wasn't until later that same year that CoolMom and I took in a Yo La Tengo set at Maxwell's.

The place still had an effect on me, though. All of those Yo La Tengo records that I grew to love during my years in Seattle, record labels Bar/None, Matador and, eventually, Merge, the entire network of indie rock clubs nation-wide -- they can all trace some part of their lineage to that back room in Hoboken. More recently, at the risk of sounding like I'm overstating things a little, Maxwell's played a big part in kind of saving me.

A little while back, a friend of mine asked, "So what's with going to so many shows and buying, like, every single album that comes out?" I told him that I'd been kind of lost. I was really bored and really unhappy with many parts of my life that weren't CoolMom or the cooldaughters. It wasn't until I started my "second job," with CoolMom's full support and understanding (she really gets me, that woman), that everything started to brighten.

I've always loved rock music, and they always tell you to do what you love, right? I threw myself full-bore into CoolDad Music and started consuming as much music as possible so I'd have something to write. That meant listening to as much music and going to as many live shows as I could. Maxwell's, then, became a large part of my rotation.

Now, we're only talking about a year here; and I am a 40-something, suburban husband and father of two. Hoboken's like an hour away from me, so I think it's been only three shows at Maxwell's in the last year. But each was fantastic. I got to see a road-seasoned Titus Andronicus on, basically, their home turf. That same friend and I saw Jersey rock heroes The Everymen along with The So So Glos on a cold Sunday night just before The So So Glos began blowing up. And I will remember the joy of the Don Giovanni Records-hosted record release show for Shellshag for a very, very long time.

At each of those shows, I got to speak with people who are making music that's important to me, shake their hands, tell them how much I enjoy what they're doing, offer to buy them a beer. After each of those shows, I came home and wrote about my experience. My own form of personal therapy.

Now, it's closing. With the exception of a couple of shows prior to going off to grad school (I wanna say that I also saw The Cavedogs there sometime around 1990-91), my relationship with the place really just started. Over the next 55 or so days, I should be there a few more times. If you're planning to see Condo Fucks, The Feelies, The Everymen, Titus Andronicus, or the farewell show, come say hi. I'll buy you a beverage, and we can toast one of the most important spaces that American indie rock has ever seen. And we'll toast the fact that it was right here, right here in New Jersey.

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