In parts 1 & 2 of this series, I wrote about Yo La Tengo and The Feelies. Maybe The Feelies have never truly gotten the recognition they deserve, but both of those acts have a relatively large national following. I called them two of Maxwell’s house bands.
Maxwell’s has another “house band.” That band is every local, tri-state area band that works and works, playing show after show as openers for national acts, in New Brunswick basements, and at Maxwell’s. They’re your friends, maybe your co-workers. And Maxwell’s gave them a place to play where they could say that they played the same room as Sonic Youth, Pavement, Guided by Voices, R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, and The Replacements. On Friday night, four of those house bands came together to perform their last sets ever at the venue.
The Brooklyn What brought the guitar-driven rock and roll onslaught of their most recent LP Hot Wine with songs like “Punk Rock Loneliness,” closing things out with a cover of The Replacements’ “Left of the Dial.” New Jersey punk supergroup Black Wine, which features former members of The Ergs!, Full of Fancy, and Hunchback, had the crowd moving to the no-core sounds of songs like “Chateau of Ghosts.” Life Eaters, frontman Mike Sylvia appropriately decked out in a Rip Curl wetsuit in anticipation of the deluge of beverages that would be flying in from the audience, tore through a set of aggressive, high-energy rock.
By the time The Everymen took the stage at around 1AM, I was beginning to question the wisdom of my decision to attend such a late show the night before an early swim meet. Once the band’s set got underway, though, I forgot all of my misgivings. The band started things off with a slow number before frontman Mike V said, “OK. Enough of that shit…,” and The Everymen tore into a more typical set that had the entire crowd dancing from beginning to end. For the evening, they changed the title of “Coney Island High” to “Maxwell’s,” adding a Maxwell’s reference to the chorus.
Then, in fine, final Maxwell’s set tradition, the band did a series of covers: Bruce Springsteen’s “Ain’t Good Enough for You,” Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” with saxophonist Scott Zillitto on vocals, Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” and Neil Young’s “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.” The Lost Romance’s Gerry Perlinski joined the band on stage; audience members sang entire verses into the mic; the horn section came down and played among the crowd; and show closer “Boss Johnny and the Get Lucky” saw almost the entire audience on stage with the band.
It was a party that went a few minutes past the official Maxwell’s 2AM close; and, as CoolMom and I walked out into the street, sheepishly realizing how late my parents would be up babysitting the cooldaughters, we both told each other how happy we were to have been a part of it.
My growing confidence as a point and shoot concert photographer took a bit of a hit under last night’s difficult lighting conditions, but I did my best to document the proceedings. I also managed to corner some of The Everymen in Maxwell’s basement to get their thoughts on Maxwell’s imminent closure. Stay tuned for that.