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Burgerama 4, Day Two

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Thee Oh Sees

For the second day at Burgerama, I adopted a slightly different strategy, instead of trying to see as many bands as possible, I tried to see less of them but more of each act. Thee Oh Sees were about to start their set when I arrived and after one song John Dwyer and his band had already broken an amp. After a short interruption, they started again, had a second problem, but as soon as they started again it was a chaos in the crowd, an euphoric chaos, and this could be the exact effect this sound has on me. I must admit it, I have a crush on John Dwyer, the energy this guy can release with his music is an immense and powerful beast, and being at his feet for a few minutes was a blast. Holding his guitar very high he was spitting out sweat and other body fluids all set-long, while his tattoos were hardly following his demented moves. There was a sort of confusion among the security guards because of all these stops and starts, so that they almost forgot to evacuate the photographers at the third song,… I stayed around for the whole set, too bad for Shannon and the Clams inside the observatory, the Oh Sees’ psychedelic garage rock had possessed me and the entire place and even their almost quiet songs turned into some raging craziness.

I was expecting Ariel Pink (this is what my schedule was saying) but J Mascis was getting prepared behind a large drumset… In fact it was Witch playing before Pink, and I also recognized Kyle Thomas from King Tuff on vocals and guitar, so Witch looked like a new band with familiar faces and a sludgy stoner metal sound, a bit punk hardcore at moments but overall very heavy metal…. They had decided to be the mid-afternoon annihilators, blasting an abyssal head-banging sound with destructive solos and amazing guitar licks,… literally speaking if you see what I mean. They were quite heavy and made weirdo King Khan (from a previous act I had missed) came back on stage in full gay-sex slave outfit… what a crazy scenery.

But talking about crazy, Ariel Pink was next and he brought his pom pom weirdness fully alive with a pink wig, a blue pastel dress, and spiky purple platform shoes. Here it was, the unique case of Ariel Pink, half bent-back old valley girl, half creepy mid-age pop singer who doesn’t seem to follow any particular trend, just like his music. Still I enjoyed a lot of his songs, not so much the one that sounds like an old Disneyland ride (‘Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade’) but the other ones that get you all work out, the hooky-layered songs which engage some great foot tapping or even a dark dance floor… there is a Pink formula, I find his songs immediately recognizable, ‘White Freckles’, ‘Put my number in my phone’, ‘Lipstick’, and they threw bananas to the crowd, a totally random act while Pink, hidden behind his hair most of the time, looked creepier than ever when he sang ‘Black Ballerina’. I still can’t decide whether Ariel Pink is a genius or a joke, or both, still he has enjoyable songs, he is super entertaining, so what else could you be asking for?

I didn’t want to go inside the Observatory anymore because of the dense crowd but I made an exception for J Mascis who was playing a set around 6 pm. With his usual nonchalance, this guy can get an amazing amount of fuzz out of his guitar. Sitting down in front of a partition holder the whole time, moving only his agile fingers, he was a classic master getting dreamy and sludgy at the same time, or exuding some crazy Arabic psychedelia, the music was getting dense and intense, reaching another level of distortion, while not even a hair was moving on J’s head.

I must have seen the Black Lips 4 or 5 times and each time they are a lot of fun,… these country beastie boys have the right punk dance moves, and bèunce all set-long. They were as restless as the crowd and I was for a while stuck between these crazy boys’ front assaults, the crowd surfers exiting through the photo pits and the poor girls crushed by the rowdy crowd and rescued by the guards… ‘Anyone want some boogers in the mouth tonight?’ said Cole Alexander, not sure I wanted this but the party is always ending up with toilet paper humor and debauchery with these outlaw boys. And the rest was just happy sing-alongs, giant swirls of quilted northern and inflatable dolls.

The very prolific and terrific Ty Segall seemed likes possessed by the guitar gods, his blonde mane floating around his angel face, he played an intense and furious set… But why was he pointing the sky all the time? Was he asking the gods of rock & roll to channel his grandiose ambitions? The fuzz master and his team broke a drum, but after a rapid drum change, and a few expeditious punk ones, he covered Bowie and Black Sabbath then jumped into the crowd for a grand crowd-surfing final… Several bands were still scheduled inside the observatory but I had to leave Burgerama 4 on his high note,… see you next year!

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