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Burgerama III Day 1 At The Observatory (Part One)

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Surfing the burger

There is a Burger Records revolution in Southern California, this small independent label has been organizing its Burgerama for three years now, taking over the Observatory in Orange County for the weekend, and it is expanding like a homegrown giant flower. This was my first time at Burgerama (it’s far from silver Lake) but I now realized it has become a real music festival. More than 40 bands were playing during the weekend and I am not even counting the ones playing in the small constellation room that I haven’t even time to check out!

The label is famous for its catalogue of eccentric garage rock, known for its DIY ethics and even release most of its material on cassette – yes you read it right. Looking at the list of bands playing Burgerama, I realized that I had already seen (and loved) many of them, and I believe there is a Burger Records brand that you recognize immediately when you hear it. The same way, there is a Burger Records fashion, because that was a fashionably flower-power crowd if I ever seen one. The Burger Records looks is a bit psychedelic, dyed-shirt meets nose rings, hippie meets punk meets bleached blonde hair surfer, wearing oversized buttons with food items, truck hats or flowers around the wrist, a colorful crowd of an  amalgam of post-hipsters hesitating between retro punk or homeless style, but totally embracing the fast food truck culture… So I felt totally at ease right away.

I saw so many bands that my brain is a little fried as it is always the case after a festival, plus the back and forth walking between the two stages was becoming increasingly difficult at the end of the day, as the crowd was growing. Plus the fact that one stage was outdoor and the other one indoor was causing me flash blindness each time I was emerging from the Observatory to go outside. Nevertheless, I managed to see 16 bands on Saturday, but hardly stayed for one entire set the whole time, at the exception of the Black Lips, who were the last band playing. This is why I persist to think festivals are a terrible way to see music, they may be successful at celebrating music because after all they are an overwhelming feast for the senses, but they are a mirror of our times, totally adapted for the ADD generation: everything is thrown at your face at once and you are unable to concentrate on anything. I am older, I still can concentrate more than 5 minutes, although it is less and less true, but once in a while I jump into the unfocused mayhem that a music festival is.

That said, I started by a taste of Audacity and their punk garage rock energy; they looked like the embodiment of Burger Records: young, carefree, just eager to play their punchy songs while producing as many hooks as possible with the sun in the face. After a few songs, I went inside to see a girl band from Brooklyn named Habibi, a moniker that announced some Arabic ambiance to me, but the girls sounded mostly surf-retro with girl-group quiet harmonies… One of their songs, ‘Tomboy’, had this classic 60s vibe, it was bouncy and catchy, and despite the Persian origin of their lead singer, I was hearing more really pleasant familiar-at-the-first-listening and tambourine-beaten tunes than Middle Eastern melodies. But we always hear what is familiar to us, so I have to listen to them again because with a moniker like this there’s probably more to the picture.

On the outdoor stage, Hunx, that I had known as Hunx and his Punx, was doing their usual debauchery of latex while riding the pop-punk wave. I had seen them before, and they had brought back the inflatable dolls, the outrageous black latex outfits although this time there were two guys instead of one. Covered by profanities, brand names or other pop culture references (Man-eater, L’oreal, SCUM,…) they gave to the crowd, which was holding some ‘God Hates Burger’ signs, what they wanted: a show more colorful than a John Waters movie, some sloppy singing and even some five-second songs.

The Aquadolls was all about this blonde punk mermaid-frontgirl who managed to reconcile harmonies and aggressiveness. They were good and this girl (Melissa Brooks) could have given you a teenage crush at the first sight, what a presence! Young, blonde, bubbly but also bold and riotous, she turned the crowd totally wild and many people started crowd surfing to her empowering pop tunes. She looked like a punk Britney, just younger and punkier and I imagined her giving the middle finger while everyone in the photo pit was giving her the thumb up.

Still inside the Observatory, Dead Ghosts, with their psychedelic garage rock, that could be a sort of the Doors meets the Black Lips, were quite impressive. They brought lots of guitar in the game, some fierce, catchy-foot-tapping, surfy, trash-the-place, doo-woopy vibe, and one of their songs even reminded me of Fidlar’s. I guess I hit the wall when I hear a band like them, the wall of English words, it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate these bands just by writing about them, but they were good.

I had hardly seen Cherry Glazerr’s set at Red Bull Sound Select (they were opening for Fidlar) but this time I was front row. Everyone says they are about to blow up, and I can’t exactly define why. I liked their nonchalant tunes animated by Clementine Creevy’s cute and delicate ooo-ooos songs, and their louder songs sounded like gentle pop retaining some subjacent fury. The crowd was even surfing to these hummable tunes but I wasn’t overly impressed. However, being so close made me realize how young they were… frontgirl Clementine Creevy is only 17 while her respective bandmates, bassist Sean Redman and drummer Hannah Uribe, are respectively 22  and 16… how younger can you go?

Back inside, F.Y.P. (Five Year Plan) sounded (and looked) a bit older than these kids, but co-founder of Burger Records Lee Rickard presented the band by saying they had played in his backyard for his 16th birthday or something like that; so I guess they were the veterans on the Burger rooster, and they trashed the place with humor. They played a sort of old-school punk with a positive energy, which immediately started a mosh pit. I didn’t see enough of them, but they sounded juvenile despite having finished high school some time ago.

I wasn’t completely done with Hunx and his Punx because, back to the outdoor stage, I discovered that bassist Shannon also had her own thing, Shannon and the Clams. Of course it makes sense, another (chubby) girl surfing the 60s wave (or could it be the 50s wave?) and doing it with lots of authenticity. Shannon was on bass and with her guitarist and they both looked cute, retro, even cartoonish, a bit like an European caricature of what the 60s looked like? They played the most retro-sweet-prom-night music, surfy-doo-woopy with harmonies as colorful as their outfits.

For more pictures of the show you can handle, go there.

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Audacity

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Hunx

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Cherry Glazerr

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Shannon & the Clams

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