Will Jaxx's new owners honor true metal?
- In January, Jaxx will change owners. Photo by Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com.
Judging by its surroundings, you wouldn’t know that the nightclub Jaxx has been at the heart of the Washington area's metal scene for 20 years: the club is nestled in the corner of a Springfield strip mall, just behind a kabob joint. But over the years, a diverse group of big-name domestic and foreign metal acts have hammered it out behind that dowdy faux-deco facade.
For years, there have been rumors that Jay Nedry, who owns the club, was going to sell the venue. On June 14, he posted an official statement on the venue’s website announcing that the sale was final: the new owners, Jason Malhoyt and Jeff Cohen of promotions group Outerloop, will take over the venue on Jan. 1, 2012.
Longtime Jaxx patrons were immediately concerned: Outerloop has been promoting shows at Jaxx and other local venues for the past several years, but its shows tend to focus on bands that play metalcore, a hardcore punk/metal fusion that attracts a much younger audience than the more established bands Jaxx is known for. (Nedry recently slapped one of those more established groups, ’90s hitmakers Nelson, with a lawsuit for badmouthing him online.)
Cohen and Malhoyt are also involved in Outerloop Management,which represents both local bands (including Darkest Hour, Dying Fetus, and Periphery) and national acts such as crunchy punks Strike Anywhere, deathcore bands Carnifex and Oceano, and metalcore group the Word Alive.
"The main bummer about Jaxx switching management is that the NoVa heavy metal bands and fans could be losing a major venue for their music scene," says Simon Cohen, a guitarist and local concert promoter. "Outerloop Management is going to make their own bands and shows a priority before anything else. And having their own space like this is a really useful business and marketing move; it will give them opportunities to book lots of shows in their genre, with easy name support for those shows."
Perhaps not surprisingly, Nedry said he was optimistic about the future of the club when he announced the deal, writing on the site, "The time has come to pass the torch to someone who will continue what was started and improve it. An influx of new money, brains, expertise and energy is what is essential. I was very careful picking and choosing just whom to sell Jaxx to.
"I have partnered to work a deal that is great for the club, and gives [Malhoyt and Cohen] a venue and a chance for me to slow down and smell the roses.... They will bring youth, vigor, knowledge of new bands and marketing opportunities to bring Jaxx totally in to the digital age. I have brought the place as far as I could; now is the time and these are the people."
Nedry will continue to book shows at Jaxx for several years after Outerloop takes over the day-to-day operations of the club. "I will still do four or five shows a month, but I will be doing the older shows," he tells us, citing the glam rock and metal bands the club is famous for. "Kix, Ratt, Cinderalla, Molly Hatchet, stuff like that — I'm going to continue to [book them] until they don't play any more. They always sell out, so there's no sense in stopping the shows."
Nedry’s band the Roadducks were the first band to play at the club when it first opened in 1979 as a venue called the Wild West. The venue re-opened as Zaxx in 1988, and the Roadducks were the first band to play there as well. “In the spring of 1991, Zaxx went into bankruptcy, and the court appointed me as the booking agent and production manager,” Nedry says. “I ran it for the court until June of 1993 when they declared bankruptcy and went out of business.” Nedry bought the venue in August 1994 and re-opened it as Jaxx (“Jay and Zaxx makes Jaxx”).
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