Maxwell’s Concerts & Events is gearing up to open their doors for the first time since the pandemic forced them to shutter their doors for over a year.
It’s been a trying 18 months for the popular Waterloo music venue, according to Maxwell’s president Paul Maxwell, which is why they’ve launched the Maxwell’s Recovery Fundraiser to help with the costs of reopening.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, in the first six months, there was no support announced, really. So we had to do a lot of things in the beginning like liquidating inventory,” he said.
They sold their alcohol supply posters -- anything in the building that they could part with.
“We just tried to do whatever we could to survive, as our expense metres still stayed the same.”
Once government subsidies started to come into effect, he said they helped to just keep the lights on.
“And now we're kind of in the final stage, getting the last part of the business back up and running -- having the ability to repurchase inventory and do some repairs and maintenance on the building to get things back to concert-ready.”
That last leg of getting up and running is exactly what the fundraiser will be assisting with.
“Essentially we've created a tiered donation approach, where our valued patrons and fans of the venue can actually have their name or family name, or even pet name or company name, printed onto a vinyl record detail that's going to be hung in a really cool entranceway format,” he said.
“So it's kind of a way to say thanks and have something fun for fans of the venue to see when they come in; just having your name make a mark on the history of Maxwell's,” he said, adding that “every bit helps.”
Maxwell says the campaign has been well received so far, and that he’s looking forward to printing the names and hanging the records up on the wall.
The earliest show they currently have scheduled is for Oct. 23 with female-fronted Dizzy as the headliner.
However, the first show they announced was Crown Lands -- something Maxwell says they are proud of because the band “speaks to the Indigenous North American community as the singer Cody Bowles is part McMahon. He also speaks to the rainbow community as well -- he considers himself 2spirit.”
Maxwell said in the past, they “just booked music for being good music.” However, going forward, he notes that they are planning on being more intentional about showcasing diverse acts.
“The last 18 months has given us a lot of opportunity to think about how things would operate and how to improve on all the things we've done in the past,” he said.
Beyond more intentional booking, he says guests can expect some changes in the building, including some “exciting AV changes.”
“So you're going to see some changes there, in terms of the feel of the concerts and events, I think we're going to be the best we’ve ever been when we come back.”
In terms of the pandemic impacting their scheduled shows, he said that they will be following the advice and guidance of public health experts at the time of each show, and communicating with ticket holders on any measures or changes to specific events.
Because the venue is scalable, he says that they can operate at different levels of capacity, which will help them manage expectations. For instance, their side stage is licensed for 200 people. If they are told they can only operate at 50 per cent capacity, they can move it over to the bigger stage.
As such, he says they are “confident [these shows are] going to take place in one shape or another. What that final shape looks like is unknown, but we're hoping that it means regular operations.”