is a music club in Hoboken, New Jersey
that also has a restaurant and bar. The intimate, cozy venue often attracts a wide variety of acts looking for a change from the New York City concert spaces across the river.
The club was opened in 1978 by Steve Fallon. When the Fallon family bought the corner building in uptown Hoboken with its street-level tavern, Steve's sister Anne and brother-in-law Mario were interested in turning the factory workers' tavern (General Foods' Maxwell House Coffee factory was a block away on the Hudson River) into more of a restaurant. The Hoboken band "a" (featuring Glenn Morrow, Richard Barone, Frank Giannini, and Rob Norris) asked if they could rehearse in an unused back room and play a few gigs in the front for the restaurant's patrons. The live music quickly caught on and Steve started booking bands into the back room. Over time, Steve's booking taste, freewheeling personality and respectful treatment towards musicians made Maxwell's and Hoboken a looked-forward-to stop on many bands' tours. By making the blue-collar mile-square city with a rough-and-tumble reputation a cultural gathering place, Maxwell's was instrumental in sparking Hoboken's first wave of early 1980s gentrification — the artists and musicians. In that light, it is also believed that Anne and Mario may have offered the first successful Sunday brunch
Maxwell's having become so successful that it spawned not only Pier Platters, an independent record store near the PATH train station that Fallon invested in, a whole music and cultural "scene" epitomized by the Hoboken Sound (which was featured in an hour-long television special on a local NYC station), and Fallon's own record label Coyote Records, Steve hired Todd Abramson to take over the booking of the acts in the mid-1980s. Abramson has, essentially, been booking the venue ever since (except for a short period in the late Nineties after Fallon sold the club and Maxwell's was converted into a short-lived brew pub.)
At a time when one of the Fallon siblings wanted to divest of their interest in the business, Peter Buck (Guitarist for R.E.M.) bought their piece to help his friend Steve Fallon keep it open as a resource for enthusiasts of new music. Later, Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü, Sugar and a solo career bought out Buck's ownership for the same reasons.
Sadly, when Steve wanted completely out, he and his partners sold Maxwell's to someone who failed to turn it into a brewpub. Booker Todd Abramson, Steve Shelley (drummer of Sonic Youth) and Dave Post of Swingadelic arranged to bring Maxwell's back, and re-opened on July 26th, 1998. While some longtime patrons miss the more free-wheeling Steve Fallon days, Maxwell's is now as vital a part of the indie music community as it was in the 80s and 90s.
The first band to play at Maxwell's was "a," which included three future members of The Bongos
, Rob Norris, and Frank Giannini, who was Maxwells' cook and devised their first menu), fronted by Glenn Morrow (later of The Individuals
and founder of Bar/None Records
). The Bongos
were the first band from the 80s Hoboken scene to be signed to a major label, RCA
, after a series of British singles and tours. In the mid-1980s R.E.M. played there on a frequent basis. The club was important to emerging trends as diverse as Punk and Grunge and Indie-Rock of the 1980s/ early '90s. Bands like Husker Du, fIREHOSE, the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Archers of Loaf, Cynics, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Neutral Milk Hotel, The Juliana Theory, Mudhoney, Fire in Cairo, Tad, The Melvins, Mod Fun, Mystic Eyes, Nirvana, Hole, the Afghan Whigs, and G Love and Special Sauce all have played there. Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Minutemen, The Mess Around, Robyn Hitchcock, Katrina & the Waves, Flipper, Rain Parade, The Cowsills, Wire, The Pogues, PYLON, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, John Cale, Snakefinger, David Byrne, The Slits, The Stations, Electric Six and The Ataris also made appearances on stage at Maxwells. The Bongos
, The Cyclones, Individuals and the dBs were mainstays in the beginning with the Feelies playing frequently towards the later half of the eighties.
They continue this tradition today with bands like the Dirtbombs, the Crooked Fingers, and the Montreal-based band Stars.
Parts of the music video for Bruce Springsteen
's "Glory Days
" were filmed at Maxwell's on May 28, 1985. Directed by Hoboken resident John Sayles
In the early 1990s Maxwell's was voted the "Best Club In New York — Even Though It's In New Jersey" by the New Yorker Magazine.
In the 2005 Village Voice Best of NY poll, Maxwell's was voted "Best Reason to Leave the State for Dinner and a Show"
New Order played one of their first American concerts at Maxwell's. Depending on who you talk to, either it was a shambles with the band not so ready to play after the demise of Ian Curtis from Joy Division, or it was a fantastic show, according to Tony Wilson, Factory Records chief in UK music mag Uncut July 2006 issue.
The inside photos of Nirvana's debut album Bleach were taken at Maxwell's. The picture of frontman Kurt Cobain has since been used in dozens of magazines, newspapers and websites before and after his death.
The video for the song "Away" by The Feelies, directed by Jonathan Demme was recorded at Maxwell's in 1988.
Several bands have recorded live albums at the venue, including The Reigning Sound ("Live at Maxwells"), The Meat Puppets ("Live at Maxwell's 2.08.01"), and My Chemical Romance
("The Black Parade Is Dead!
Ongoing events at Maxwell's
In addition to serving as a concert venue, Maxwell's offers monthly swing music by owner Dave Post's accomplished band Swingadelic, provides a forum for local musicians (with its free "New Jersey Songwriters in the Round" concerts), and opens itself up to weekly Tuesday DJ nights. Maxwell's also sponsors monthly art exhibits on its walls, with supporting opening events.
The legendary indie rock band Yo La Tengo rents out the club for the 8 nights of Hanukah every year, though not in 2006.