Sorry it’s taken a month, but I’ve been meaning to recap Happy Refugees visit to the great city of New York in these United States, for their first time ever on these shores not to mention their first time even playing together since the mid 80s! To celebrate the release of Acute’s reissue/compilation Return to Last Chance Saloon, they decided to fly trans-atlantic and have an adventure and did they (we) ever!
Things started with a bang when they were invited by Crystal Stilts to open up for their EP release party at the Knitting Factory on Friday December 9th. I’d love to embed the video of that performance but I’m having technical difficulties so you’ll have to click on over to livestream.com to check it out, where it should be up for a few months at least. Crystal Stilts were amazing, as were openers McDonalds, which featured members of Cause Co-Motion and Oxford Collapse. Also important that night is that I had my first fried chicken sandwich from the Commodore across the street.
The next day, Saturday the 10th, our favorite radio station WFMU aired Terre T’s Cherry Blossom Clinic featuring a live session recorded by Happy Refugees. Terre T always hosts great bands, and we (Acute) brought The Nightingales out for a session many years ago. This time we actually took the right PATH train so things when swimmingly. You can hear the entire show, including an 8 song set by the band online at Cherry Blossom Clinic. There are also links to go to each individual song if you’re feeling impatient. Here’s a picture from above:
Many thanks to Terre T. for having the band on, Dave Amels of the Reigning Sound for engineering the session, and Acute’s good friend Paul Bruno of The Unblinking Ear for helping out.
If that wasn’t enough, there was still one more show. Saturday night, December 10th, Happy Refugees headlined a show at the Cake Shop. Josh from Regal Degal helped brainstorm a pretty interesting bunch of artists. The night started with the mysterious and unique Suspensors, followed by the Felt-loving Sapphire Mansions and alternate-universe next big thing (in a superior universe), Regal Degal. If that wasn’t enough, DJing and selecting between sets was DJ iDeath (Andrew from MGMT) and none other than myself, playing some of the bands faves and some likeminded sounds from the 70s and early 80s. Another great night all around and a great surprise that Joly from Punkcast offered to come and shoot some of Happy Refugees set. He edited together and posted two songs…the classic Hamburger Boy:
and a special treat, the otherwise unrecorded What’s Your Appeal:
So thanks to Andy at Cake Shop, and all the dudes from Suspesnsors/Sapphire Mansions/Regal Degal and DJ iDeath and Joly! The next morning we capped things off with brunch at Roberta’s, because I wanted to make sure Happy Refugees got some good food and didn’t just eat bad NY pizza, and that was the end of a pretty exhausting and pretty awesome rock-n-roll weekend. A great way to celebrate the release of the album and to end the year. Speaking of which, Return to Last Chance Saloon made a few year-end best of the year lists despite only being out a couple of weeks, such as Jim Allen’s The Best Albums You Didn’t Hear This Year, Evan “Funk” Davies of WFMU’s #5 reissue of the year, a top 10 reissue of the year from Chris at Kim’s, number 3 top album of the year from Zan Emerson at Le Poisson Rouge, and one of the reissues of the year from the excellent Straight to Video blog. They also made an appearance on a great playlist from France called Foggy Girls Club, well worth checking out.