When your Complete Greatest Hits compilation has 20 tracks and powers on for 80 minutes, where do you go from there? If you’re Ric Ocasek you find a hot young New York band, produce their record, then recruit them to be your band to rock CBGB’s. At least that’s what the genius behind such simply brilliant pop classics as “Just What I Needed” and “Let’s Go” did last night. Hitting the stage with Hong Kong guitarist Harold Griffin and bassist Ted Casterline flanking him, Ric blasted through new tunes from current release Nexterday as well crowd favorites ”Good Times Roll” and “Moving In Stereo.” Perhaps it’s because they’ve been holed up together recording the Hong Kong’s new release, or maybe it’s because the Cars’ songs were a ubiquitous part of any young pop-minded music nerd growing up in the 80s, but the Hong Kong fellas, including drummer Aaron Carroll, slipped in perfectly with Ric’s sound. On “Magic,” “Drive” and new Ocasek track “Carousel,” the Hong Kong’s chanteuse, the subdued Catherine Culpepper, emerged from back stage to sing with her producer.
The full crowd for Ric was a mix of older fans who may have seen him play CBGBs with Blondie and the Talking Heads, hipsters who proudly own all of the Cars’ releases (on vinyl of course) and more than one balding father/fresh faced son combo were spotted in the crowd. After Ric finished his set, there was a brief clearing of the stage and the Hong Kong came back out, this time with Culpepper front and center. Playing tracks off their debut effort Rock the Faces, including my fave “Galaxies” and tracks off their soon to be released LP, including the ‘hit’ and second track on the new NY2LON compilation, “No Imagination.” If you want to check out the Hong Kong playing with Ric, tune in October 6 to everyone’s favorite late night stop for bands, Late Night With Conan O’Brien. The band will also be playing a couple of dates in October, check their site for all the details.