Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


The Feelies - Maxwells, July 3

by Jim Testa

It really wouldn't seem like the 4th of July without the Feelies at Maxwell's. This is a tradition that goes back to the Eighties and was reborn in 2008 when the band reunited after an 18 year hiatus. This is the lineup that made the The Good Earth, Only Life, and Time For A Witness, and that's the bulk of the material they played on Saturday, the mid-point of a 3 night soldout stand at the 200-capacity club in the Mile Square City.

Let's part out by saying the band sounded great - Dave Weckerman continuing to polish Million and Mercer's diamond-cut songwriting with frenetic percussion on woodblock, tambourine, and other instruments. The band's lost none of its intensity or speed, but still captivates with the more pastoral, mid-tempo material like "The High Road," "Let's Go," and "Higher Ground."

My (ahem) inside sources tell me the band has started pre-production on a new album and has already been scouting studios, with as many as 20 new songs written and ready to record. Of course, that doesn't mean we'll see a new album anytime soon; as Bill Million told me in an interview last year, "you might have noticed that the Feelies don't treat time the way other people do." That echoed a quote that Dave Weckerman gave me over 20 years ago: "Being in the Feelies is like living in a pyramid - nobody gets older and nothing ever changes."

We've all gotten a little older and a few things have changed (especially during the band's long hiatus,) but you cannot deny the timelessness that surrounds the Feelies mystique. At Maxwell's, I counted 10 people in the room that I've known for 25 years or more - and that doesn't include the band. Think about that for a second. Except for a high school reunion, how often does that happen? It's truly a wonderful thing to be enveloped in the Feelies time-bubble.

But let's go back to the set. Including the three encores, they went heavy on the covers. In fact the band opened the set with the Velvets' "Sunday Morning" and Jonathan Richman's "Egyptian Reggae," and later worked in Neil Young's "Don't Cry No Tears Over Me" and "Barstool Blues," REM's "Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars,)" their hyperspeed cover of the Beatles' "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey" and a super-psychedelic "He Said/She Said," the Stones' "Paint It Black," a Doors cover and the instrumental "Fun To Be Happy" by the 80's Athens band Love Tractor. There were at least three new numbers, but since the Feelies don't do stage patter or introduce their songs, you had to be both a fan and listening intently to figure out which they were.

The band did two sets, as is their custom at these Maxwells' shows, covering much of the final three albums but only a few selections from their classic first album (although "Fa Ce La" came up in the encores, and of course they closed the second set with "Crazy Rhythms," a tradition locked in granite.)

When the Feelies reunited in 2008 and played their first Maxwell's reunion, the room was filled with 40- and 50-somethings nostalgic for the band's original incarnation. But over the last few years - with a little touring and some festival appearances - the Feelies have started to reach a younger audience. Last night's crowd definitely had more younger people than I've seen at a Feelies show in a while (although, to be fair, quite a few of them were the children of band members;) but then again, the punk and hardcore website ran a feature on the Feelies' weekend performances, urging its mostly teen and twentysomething readers to check the band out. My guess is that there'll be even more young'un at next year's Fourth of July concerts. And I'll certainly be crawling of my pyramid to be there. is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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