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Burgerama III Day 1 At The Observatory (Part Two)

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Black Lips

I had the chance to see Kim Shattuck not too long ago, during her short episode with the Pixies, and she was back with her own thing, the Muffs, playing inside the Observatory. And you know what, Kim screams a lot despite the poppiness of her dynamic and catchy songs. She announced a new record on Records Burger, like many bands playing Burgerama, and I kept thinking about a nicer Courtney Love when I was looking at her sense of fashion Her bassist was sweeping the place with all kinds of eccentric moves and they had a real playful side, just shaken up by all this screaming. I left when they were playing some happy tune which sounded like the Ramones covering a Christmas song.

I had seen the Tijuana Panthers a few times before, but I still enjoy their retro style that makes you jump at the same place like some step dancing of the 60s. They played their type of infectious rhythm which magically manages to combine both aggressiveness and elegance, a type of tempo that makes you move without barely displacing the clump of hair at the top of your head. Looking at the huge crowd around the stage, I could tell their stylized surf music has become even more popular than before.

Back in the dark, Nobunny was a weird surprise, like their moniker says they were more or less dressed up as bunnies, and even threw a few pairs of rabbit ears in the crowd. Behind his bunny mask and at the top of his platform shoes, the front guy looked like Joey Ramone with a bad case of Donnie Darko… The room was super crowded and people knew all their songs,… what was that? A new cult? In any case they had a better outfit than Kiss, some of their songs made me think about the energy of Thee Oh Sees, and the rest was mayhem,… rabbit mayhem. I almost missed Bleached playing outside, because they had a major technical problem and it took them forever to fix it, but when the girls got ready, they got really ready and gave us some crowd’s favorites… plus that strawberry pink hair was really just pretty on Jessica Clavin. I have seen them many times before and I am still not tired to listen to their power-chords punk pop. But I had to run inside one more time for… Death, who does this? The Observatory room was super crowded, and I could barely breathe in the photo pit, people were asking for Death! Death! which can sound ridiculous said like this, but the energy grew even more when the Detroit band came on stage. Two of them appeared wearing Prince-like outfits and played their proto-punk hardcore that they kept calling rock. They were simply powerful, screaming ‘1, 2, 3’ like James Brown was, building a dangerous sound and going from a sort of hardcore derailing into dissonance à la Bad Brains, and slowing down with some Motown-like rhythms… again I and to go, I tried to brave the tough crowd and ran to the outdoor stage to catch the Growlers’ set.

The Growlers were surprisingly mellow, I had heard of them a lot but had never got the chance to see them live. The crowd was totally loving them, singing along to their psych pop songs, jumping and bouncing, visibly super happy, while the singer was crooning with this nasal deep voice, holding the mic in one hand Morrissey-like. All their songs – at least those I’ve heard – had groovy rhythms, like a cool horse gently trotting in an open field, ready for adventure, sometimes a bit spaghetti western, a bit exotic, crossing some imaginary border between Tijuana and Cambodia, and mostly done in a vague 60s psychedelic-druggy spirit.

I could tell that Dwarves, the punk band which was playing in the Observatory room almost at the same time, had a rude concurrence, but I decided to check them out for a while. It was indeed punk rock party inside, with a large mosh pit, a muscular energy and some good old-time aggressive singing… hey was that ex-QOTSA’s Nick Oliveri on bass? I bet it was, having a great time with frontman Blag Dahlia. People were there for lots of sing-along, lots of moshing, lots of punk anthems going Iggy Pop and the Stooges or even bluesy, and lots of irreverent humor – didn’t Dahlia do a song for that kids’ show Sponge Bob Square Pants? The real punk thing asking for free cocaine, while I was leaving once again to see the Black Lips.

I guess the Black Lips could also also have been the type to ask for free drugs, but they just played their infectious foot-tapping drunk garage-rock songs that everyone was asking for. Curiously, people were throwing at them more shoes than my closet contains… The problem with the photo pit (and I am not going to complain) is that after 3 songs, you are out, and since the crowd was too dense and rowdy to find a place somewhere, I stayed on the side of the stage and watched the rest of the show there, just guessing what energy was coming from the crowd. These kids hadn’t stopped surf crowding since 1 pm, and there was no reason to stop now. The set was heavy on their ‘Arabia Mountain’ songs (‘Family Tree’, ‘Modern Art’, ‘Go Out and Get It’, ‘Raw Meat’, ‘New Direction’) but especially new ones off their recent release ‘Underneath the rainbow’ (‘Make you Mine’, ‘Dorner Party’, ‘Drive-By-Buddy’, ‘Boyz in the Wood’, ‘Justice after All’, ‘Smiling’, ‘Funny’) and a few older ones (‘Dirty Hands’, ‘Katrina’, ‘Blasphemy’, ‘Bad Kids’)… I managed to see the setlist before leaving the pit! But honestly nothing was starting a fire like these good ‘Arabia Mountain’ songs. I just like their carefree punk-drunk style and infectious foot-tapping tunes with their country vibe on the side, but I was expecting more craziness; from where I was, I couldn’t see everything, but it looked like a reasonable show. No toilet paper thrown to the crowd? No dick out? Could their stage antics now be summed up by a few back-rolling parties? Everybody has noticed but everybody is still asking for more of that Raw Meat. What can I say, the Black Lips make me perfectly happy, and I crossed the carnage of broken glasses and empty bottles to get to my car with a feeling of freedom and recklessness. ‘You have lost your homework’ told me a guy holding a piece of handwritten paper, ‘What? I don’t think so!’ There were some of these pages spread all over the field, and it really looks like somebody’s homework, who the hell does his homework at Burgerama? Just bad kids.

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

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