A year ago, the building where Dooly’s had long resided was being converted into Maxwell’s Concerts and Events. The music house has spent the past 12 months expanding and recently began hosting Überhouse, an Oktoberfest event. </p>
Imprint sat down with Paul Maxwell, president and CEO of Maxwell’s, to talk about Überhouse and the past year. “Last year, we would have still been in construction at this point with some dirt piles on the floor,” said Maxwell. The concert hall opened Dec. 12 and has been hosting larger events than would have been possible at the previous location. Maxwell commented, “It’s been very exciting going from an 80-capacity venue to a well over 700-capacity venue. You can imagine the amount of change that’s happened in that time, but it’s been fantastic.”
The two original partners, Maxwell and Dave Mansell, paired up with Jay Taylor and Steve Campbell from Morty’s Pub, and have been learning how to operate at a larger capacity and a higher volume. “It’s been really fun growing with the new partners. There’s a lot more events, a lot more to tear down and set up, and a lot more staffing,” said Maxwell. “But we’ve really come into our own at this facility with the type of quality and events that we’re now booking regularly.”
Moving to this larger facility brought in new challenges for the team. “It’s always at the beginning of a new business — you start to experience new growing pains. There’s always things you have to relearn or brand new things you have to learn, and there’s always a lot of extra work when going through the growing curve,” explained Maxwell.
The concert hall has now hosted every type of event from sellout rock ’n’ roll concerts, to hip-hop shows, to country, jazz, and blues. “We’ve had a boxing match in here, and even some weddings,” said Maxwell.
Some of their successes include the St. Patrick’s Day party, which was sold-out all night with a huge line around the corner. Maxwell commented on the night saying “That was a great student party, and we plan on doing that again this year and coming back even bigger than last year.” Maxwell’s has also had some big bands sell out the room, most of them from the ‘90s and early 2000s. The hall has some acts planned that are brand new to the scene or famous already, like Dragonette and Young Empire. The two will be performing at a show on Nov. 28.
Most of the artists so far have been Canadian, Maxwell explained. “Due to the Canadian dollar performing so poorly, it’s been harder to pay for American artists, and many venues in Canada are struggling to bring in American artists when you have to pay them 35 per cent more than anyone else right out of the gate, but we are still pursuing some international acts. We’re working through some deals right now to try to bring some other American artists in.”
Some of the other events Maxwell’s will be hosting in the near future include a big Halloween bash called Nightmare on University. The hall is currently focusing on Überhouse, an Oktoberfest celebration. They have now hosted two Oktoberfest weekends: Oct. 2-4, and Oct. 9-11.
“We are now the only official Oktoberfest hall in Waterloo — the other venues no longer operate as fest halls. There are a few in Kitchener, but we are the only official hall in Waterloo,” explained Maxwell.
They had their kickoff Oct. 2, with a traditional-style Oktoberfest German-influenced band paired with some Top 40 DJs. The results had them very busy, and on Oct. 9 they started their second Oktoberfest weekend with the Weiss Blau band, who threw in a lot of traditional elements with accordions and horns to get everybody up and dancing. Maxwell’s also mixed in Top 40 DJs to appeal to all audiences.
The hall is offering all kinds of traditional Oktoberfest foods like schnitzel, sausages, pretzels, and strudel, going as far as to include Über-rolls, something similar to a cabbage burrito. There were keg tappings on both weekends, accompanied by the King and Ms. Oktoberfest.
The move to the larger location has also impacted the universities down the street. “The biggest impact I think we’ve created is providing jobs for the university students. We’ve gone from having about a dozen part-time employees to 50 part-time employees,” commented Maxwell. “We also provide the opportunity for more people to come and perform, and as we have bigger events we have a bigger allowance to pay these people and to stimulate growth in the arts and culture scene.”
Maxwell closed the interview with a comment for all students: “What I like to give as a piece of advice to students when they’re thinking of building their own business is think of something you can do everyday for the rest of your life and then find a way to make that profitable.”