Long before Maxwell there was Maxwell’s, the Hoboken-based nightclub that nurtured indie rock through the 1980s and ’90s, offering a space just outside Manhattan where cult performers regularly rewarded the intimate, exceptionally knowledgeable audiences with their finest performances. The place’s aura dwindled a bit as indie itself did, and a couple of years back it was sold to Bill Sutton, who eventually turned it into yet another microbrewery.
But no longer. On July 26, Maxwell’s reopens, under the stewardship of three Hobokenite partners: Todd Abramson, the longtime Maxwell’s booker (who will also continue to oversee Acme Underground and occasional dates at Tramps), longtime scenester Dave Post, and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, expanding his holdings beyond the record label Smells Like. “The brew tanks have been removed,” Abramson promises.
Neutral Milk Hotel will headline the first show of the restoration era, with Yo La Tengo (whose Ira Kaplan used to DJ at Maxwell’s) due in shortly after. To honor the tradition, the triumvirate plan reunions by the Individuals, Bongos, A-Bones, and probably the dB’s. But what of the Feelies, whose Maxwell’s sets, often taking place on holidays, were college rock’s most sanctified church service? Well, Abramson notes that the band broke up during a July 4 multiple engagement, owing the venue one more night. Unfortunately, he says, given the intra-Feelies animosities that still exist, getting them to honor that obligation “might require steel cages to be built for individual members.”