11 Songs, 23 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.2 out of 5
14 Ratings
14 Ratings


Beat Happening deserves to be recognized by the modern mainstream and indie rock circles. They made a vital contribution to American indie rock and helped lay the foundation for all kinds of bands to be able to make a career out of music. Though they never really learned how to play, they didn't have to. They knew how to communicate through music unlike most other bands. Jamboree, while not a perfect or consistent record, is one of the most listenable Beat Happening albums. It has classic songs--"Indian Summer", of course, is probably their most loved song, and for good reason--it's one of the best written pop songs of the last 30 years.


Beat happening is delicious.

mmmm. his voice is like cornbread and stew. fulfilling.


An old treasure from Label K records

I've sat here and tried to think of all the reasons I like Beat Happening's Jamboree… and all of the various reasons seem to make one very unique mixture. Where to begin… The vocals are either baritone and swaying or high pitched and charming (I'm speaking about having both a male and female vocalist of course.) I love how humble the lyrics are… "Cat Walk" "Indian Summer" "Jamboree" "Drive Car, Girl" and the noisy "This Many Boyfriends Club." This album ranges from acoustic guitars and light percussion to a full Post Punk band set up. I feel that this is a somewhat overlooked album and that saddens me. Beat Happening have a flavor all of their own. I'd probably recommend them to fans of The Velvet Underground, The Vaselines, and The Knack. This album may not resonate well the first few listens, but after you really give it a chance you'll see that this release has some magnificent songs.

If you want to listen to another amazing album, check out Shonen Knife-Burning Farm.

About Beat Happening

Beat Happening was among the truly seminal and influential American bands of the post-punk era, a paragon of pop minimalism, rebellious innocence, and indie defiance. The linchpin of the Olympia, Washington-based International Pop Underground, they adopted a stance in direct opposition to the accepted norms at the heart of rock music; ignoring all notions of pretense, professionalism, and stardom, Beat Happening created an unorthodox, raw sound that democratically rotated vocal, guitar, and drum duties between members while jettisoning bass altogether. Dropping their last names to further emphasize their everyman approach, members Calvin (Johnson), Heather (Lewis), and Bret (Lunsford) expressed simple truths and simple emotions with simple music, favoring off-key, tuneless vocals and three-chord primitivism over slick, processed packaging; implicit in their work was also a rejection of major-label trappings, as the group steadfastly remained with K Records, Calvin's self-owned imprint and a model of D.I.Y. indie success.

Beat Happening formed in the early '80s; Calvin, a longtime fixture of the Olympia scene who also helped establish the original Sub Pop fanzine (the basis for the subsequent label), had already founded K, originally a cassette-only project started to release music no other company would touch. An alumnus of the short-lived Cool Rays, Calvin teamed with Heather and assorted friends in the first incarnation of Beat Happening, playing shows whenever and wherever they could as long as the performances were held at all-ages venues; his canyon-deep baritone quickly became as much a group trademark as their sardonic, even juvenile songs. After Bret joined in mid-1983, Beat Happening issued their debut five-song cassette a year later; a sightseeing trip to Japan followed, and while in Tokyo, the trio recorded its second effort, 1984's Three Tea Breakfast EP. Their 1985 eponymous full-length debut, produced by the Wipers' Greg Sage, brought Beat Happening their first widespread exposure, as well as a number of comparisons to the burgeoning British twee pop scene spearheaded by the Pastels. A long layoff followed prior to the release of 1988's remarkable Jamboree, co-produced by Mark Lanegan and Gary Lee Conner of the Screaming Trees.

The four-song joint release Beat Happening/Screaming Trees surfaced a few months later, trailed by 1989's Black Candy. With the release of 1991's Dreamy, Beat Happening's influence on the indie community became increasingly pronounced; not only did the blossoming cuddle-core movement owe the trio a huge debt, but in the summer 1991 Calvin masterminded the International Pop Underground Festival, a now-legendary concert spotlighting over 50 bands -- among them Bikini Kill, Fugazi, Scrawl, the Fastbacks, L7, and Mecca Normal -- all aligned in their opposition to corporate music. The sublime You Turn Me On followed, but apart from "Not a Care in the World," a track contributed to a 1992 Sub Pop sampler given away free to readers of Sassy magazine, Beat Happening spent much of the decade in limbo as Calvin focused on his Dub Narcotic Sound System project as well as the Halo Benders, a band founded with Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. Despite its absence from the stage and the studio, the trio maintained that it had not disbanded, and reportedly continued practicing on a monthly basis. Ten years after its last release, the band became the unlikely focus of a box set, Crashing Through. The set featured a newly recorded song, "Angel Gone," but nothing else new. In 2015, Domino Records released the career-spanning, band-selected collection Look Around, which served as a reminder to anyone who may have forgotten just how good and influential the band was. ~ Jason Ankeny

Olympia, WA



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