Goodbye Maxwell's

Friday, June 07, 2013

Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan performing at Maxwell's in Hoboken on Dec. 7, 2010. Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan performing at Maxwell's in Hoboken on Dec. 7, 2010. (Barry Yanowitz/Flickr)

Todd Abramson, booker and co-owner of Maxwell's, discusses the decision to close the legendary venue and how Hoboken has changed since it opened in 1978.


Todd Abramson

Comments [22]


I loved Maxwell's but live on Long Island. However, as parking got worse and worse I had to stop going. End of Story for me.

Aug. 25 2013 04:44 PM
Nicole from Northampton MA

I'm trying to remember all of the shows that I saw there. Does anyone have a link to a listing of all shows?

Jun. 09 2013 09:07 PM
Lala from hoboken

When Steve Fallon sold Maxwell's, it was no longer Maxwell's. It became something else. It's funny to hear Tod talk about gentrification. This is a full circle...."yuppies invade"....and "yorkies" take over.

Jun. 07 2013 10:19 PM
John Baumgartner from Haledon, NJ

It would have been nice to hear Steve Fallon's name mentioned at least once. No Steve/No Maxwell's.

Jun. 07 2013 07:26 PM
Patrick Campbell

Pietasters at Maxwell's

Jun. 07 2013 02:42 PM
Joe from Jersey City



Hoboken has a similar attitude toward parking as the city of Albany does. Corrupt. Opportunistic. Easy money. But ultimately pathetic. Which is why I left both cities....

BTW - the real reason Maxwells moved is because it's surrounded by modern people who watch too much television.

Jun. 07 2013 01:46 PM
Dave S from Hoboken

BK from Hoboken: Parking is definitely a problem. Yes, there are *some* new parking lots/spaces. But look at all the high rise apt. building that have gone up within a few blocks of Maxwell's in the last few years. Or the long lines to get on the bus to NYC during rush hour.

Musicians who play at Maxwell's can't even find parking, & their vehicles have been booted. The population of Hoboken is now 50,000-- that's in less than 2 square miles. Sadly for people who like Maxwell's & the music it books, there are a lot more folks in Hoboken who are interested in sports bars.

Cathy from Hoboken wrote: "The owners seem to want to just make a point that people in Hoboken are not cool enough anymore and they are afraid it might rub off on them to be in such a "yuppie: community."

Sorry, I totally disagree. Hoboken has been a heavily "yuppie" community since the 1980s, and Maxwell's did OK then. There are many bars in Hoboken that are packed these days-- but they're mostly bars showing sports.

Parking has always been a problem in Hoboken, and it's gotten worse in recent years-- look at all the high-rise apt. towers that have gone up uptown in the last few years. You used to be able to park on Sinatra Drive, but no more. Hoboken now has a population of 50,000.

It's hard for Maxwell's to make a go of it when rents go up, there's only a limited amount of customers you can pack in, the people who live in town are more interested in sports bars, and people from out of town can't find a place to park legally or cheaply.

Clubs in Brooklyn are now able to make it (for now, at least) partly because they are close to subway lines.

I'm glad Maxwell's was able to make a go of it as long as it did. I've been to many great shows there since 1980, from R.E.M. to Screaming Females to The Feelies and Yo La Tengo.

As someone else mentioned, I really hope the Maxwell's owners will open a similar music club in Jersey City; I'd definitely go.

Jun. 07 2013 12:27 PM
PJ From NJ from New Jersey

BK from Hoboken: If you operated a business in Hoboken, as Todd does and I do, you would not be so flippant about the parking situation and its effect on business. The number of complaints would shock you!

As for parking garages, Maxwell's is not only a concert venue, it's a bar/restaurant. Paying to park in a lot adds to the total bill of the night and discourages people from coming to Hoboken. The fear of being ticketed or booted or towed creates further anxiety and thus creates another reason not to come to Hoboken. And unlike the Meadowlands, Maxwell's isn't booking uber-bands that can get $125 a ticket plus parking from their fans. Comparing Maxwell's to the Meadfolands is a stretch.

You may not want to believe that parking can effect business is such a big way, you may have your own theory or none at all, but the Hoboken business community hears the complaints first hand; from customers, vendors, delivery men and women, and fellow business owners. And Todd is certainly not the first to voice this to the media.

Jun. 07 2013 12:19 PM
BK from Hoboken

The owner's vague references to reasons for closing have only addressed parking and gentrification. These are not valid arguments. The parking argument is bogus. There have been multiple large parking garages ADDED in the last few years that are only a few blocks away. If all of these fans of Maxwells pay to park at the Meadowlands or other concert venues, they can pay to park in Hoboken. As for the gentrification, or loss of artist community, yes Hoboken has changed. It went from artsy bohemian in the 80s to young post college in the 90s to young families in the 00s to now. If Maxwells only needs to sell 200 tickets to fill the place, I have to ask all of te fans who lament the changes in Hoboken: where are you? It's funny to hear people complain but they are te same ones who haven't been there in a decade. Don't blame people who happen to live in Hoboken.

Jun. 07 2013 11:09 AM
Steve from Manhattan

Out of the 100's of shows I saw at Maxwell's, one of the most significant was REM in 1981 when they had just the first single, Radio Free Europe on Hib-Tone (before they were signed to IRS). I'm not even sure why I went that night, as no one had heard of them yet. The next day I went out to hunt down the single, finding it at Rocks In Your Head (now probably the most valuable piece of vinyl I own). I first went to Maxwell's soon after Steve Fallon opened it to live rock - I don't remember the band, but my money would be on the dB's who I saw many times there. Damn, I'll miss this place!

Jun. 07 2013 11:07 AM
HALLERON from Hoboken, NJ

Maxwell’s is more than a gem, it’s a cornerstone… and now it’s being removed.

Jun. 07 2013 11:00 AM
DaveG from High Bridge, NJ

I played at Maxwell's numerous times in various bands (WKGB, TV Toy, The Wizards) from the earliest days on. But some of the best shows I saw:

Freddy Cannon - Todd hired a great band to back him up that knew every one of his songs perfectly, exactly like the record. He kept the house waiting 45 minutes. Finally came on, did Johnny B. Goode and left. LOL!

Jeff Buckley - in the front room on a Folk and Fondue Tuesday on an incredibly hot night No one was listening to him, and I sat alone 10 feet from him .

Jun. 07 2013 11:00 AM
julie from Brooklyn

My best show at Maxwell's - December 31, 1999 Guided by Voices.

Jun. 07 2013 10:59 AM

Skrew Wall Street!!!

Jun. 07 2013 10:58 AM
Jennifer from Jersey City/Hoboken

I moved to Hoboken in 1994 and can't begin to list how many shows I've seen and memories enjoyed at Maxwell's. It will be a terrible loss. I keep hoping this will be a short-lived change like the "brewpub" days with the copper tanks in the front room, but I have a feeling that's not so. Todd, can you speak to any rumors that you'll be reopening somewhere in Jersey City?

Jun. 07 2013 10:57 AM
Mariette from Brooklyn

There was a time when Maxwell's was hosting all of our New Brunswick bands. It was our indie-rock haven in NJ. Bionic Rhoda played one show that was so much fun...but so were all the other shows.

Jun. 07 2013 10:54 AM
Yisroel Lazaros from Brooklyn

Hannukah Yo La Tengo shows! 8 glorious nights in a row, packed with special guests--a veritable who's who of rock and roll and comedy royalty! Every year. What club other than Maxwells would host such a unique series of events every Hannukah.
I know that me and my friends will miss this time honored tradition, which for a group of irreligious Jews epitomized the spirit of the holiday. Goodbye Maxwells. What will become of Hannukah without you.

Jun. 07 2013 10:54 AM
Steve from Hoboken

Would he please discuss Nirvana playing there?? Thx!!

Jun. 07 2013 10:53 AM
Cathy from Hoboken, NJ

I am heartbroken about this. The owners seem to want to just make a point that people in Hoboken are not cool enough anymore and they are afraid it might rub off on them to be in such a "yuppie: community. I still live in Hoboken where there is still an arts community and Maxwell's is our heart. We got there not only for shows but for dinner, just to hang out and meet friends and for community events and concerts. I met my husband there and have been going there all of my adult life.

Jun. 07 2013 10:53 AM
EMalmon from Gtown, CT

Saw a great show by Superchunk there. Also Juliana Hatfield. Got to see Juliana eating soup at the cafe. Can't imagine anymore doing anything that would result in returning home at 3am. Sigh.

Jun. 07 2013 10:51 AM
Brian from Red Bank, NJ

Hard to describe what Maxwell's meant to a teenager from the deadening burbs. Unlike most NYC clubs in the 80's, Todd always let all ages into the shows and it was a life-changer.

Most memorable moment: At age 17, my buddy and I used a dummy and a trumpet to get into a sold-out Replacements show. We told the guy at the door he was the horn player. Guitarist Slim Dunlap saw us and put us on the guest list.

And I get goosebumps thinking about how good those sweaty, mid 80's Feelies show were.

Jun. 07 2013 10:49 AM
Jeff Jotz from Rahway

My first show was in 1987, shortly after I received my drivers license. My Mom was so nervous that she called the Hoboken PD to make sure it was safe. I penned an article for the Star-Ledger in 1996. Here is the article:

Jun. 07 2013 10:46 AM

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