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Burgerama III Day 2 At The Observatory (Part One)

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Cosmonauts

Day two at the Burger, and I was sort of rested from the day before and ready for another music marathon, starting with local band Hindu Pirates who were playing inside the Observatory. They are from Huntington Beach and probably belong to this generation of prodigies, these high school cool kids who have absorbed all the classic and indie music of the past decades. Once again these pirates looked so young that it was scary, but also very promising for the future of music. When I arrived in the room, they had already built a wall of psychedelic fuzz with poppy hooks and the crowd surfing was in full bloom. Really kids? It’s 1 pm you are already at it? Already doing the whole stage-diving-crowd-surfing-moshing thing? What a day in perspective! Meanwhile Hindu Pirates owned the place, one of them was wearing a Neil Young shirt and they looked like blonde surfers who seemed to be as much at ease with fuzz pedals than surfboards, producing a sound more relaxing-shoegazing than anything else, glittering like a wave under the sunlight.

Outside, another band of surfers, called Tomorrow’s Tulips, was starting to play… why do all these surfers think they can be musicians? Actually they can, and this one reminded me immediately about the Velvet Underground, but again there are a lot of bands that remind me the Velvet one way or another. Let’s just say they were playing one side of the Velvet, druggy, sprawling with ecstasy, light-headed and lost in some fuzziness. But here it was probably because of the singer’s up-front voice which had some Lou Reed’s intonations that they reminded me about the famous band. It was a rather lo-fi affair although they ended up with lots of distortion and reverb that didn’t want to die. I could actually see a trend in all this, the nonchalance of the surfer slowly building a wave or waiting for it.

Gap Dream was playing inside, exactly at the same time, so that I didn’t see much of them but I remembered seeing them once. You can throw a lot of adjectives at them, druggy psychedelia, throbbing synth, hypnotizing optic illusion and kaleidoscopic white noise… sorry it’s another VU reference! Gap Dream has a ‘Shine Your Light’ cassette on Burger Records and I can see why, their last song was the type of music to make mushrooms grow at the top of your hair.

Don’t you just love the name Mystic Braves? They played next on the outdoor stage and filled the mid-afternoon with their hippie-surfy sweet psychedelia melodies. The 60s is without any doubt the decade I make reference the most, but what can I do? Once again it was flower-power, romantic tambourines, and peace signs in the air, at times, they almost sounded like some authentic oldies, as if the Zombies or Jefferson Airplane had gone a bit western. I wanted to stay longer and may be I should have but Black Bananas was waiting for me inside the Observatory, and, well, it was weird. Frontwoman Jennifer Herrema (Royal Trux), in a grunge-polar-bear fashion style was singing over distorted guitars and synth. It was a tough and heavy sound, I just had a hard time to make sense of what I was hearing and she seemed to be holding the mic to prevent a possible fall… part sexy, part deconstructed distortion, part fucked up? This time there was no surfing in the crowd, the proof this can happen and this was a bit excessively weird in the electronic department, but I spotted Off!/Redd Kross Steven McDonald checking them out for a minute.

I ran outside to catch Cosmonauts’ set because I remember them being quite good. And they were! Some songs (‘Motorcycle #1’) had almost a METZ-like energy. This tune was so badass and the rest was a massive head-trip into dark psychedelia with morose vocals, translating more ennui than anger, thrown up front right in your face. They were a driving punk force, making music to drive with and honestly going for the big arena sound right away. A bit like Thee Oh Sees do it, their expanding sound of layered guitars was wandering into long songs, trashing the place around a repetitive theme before catapulting us in the cosmos. I was so absorbed by Cosmonauts that I did not see much of Kool Keith playing at the same time, but I had the time to see they were a rap duo, and one guy was wearing a flashy scarf and a helmet with horns as if he was the Thor of hip hop. They sounded like Jurassic-5 but what do I know about rap?

For more pictures of the festival, go there.

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