On March 24th, The Observatory (formerly the Galaxy) was in full tilt fun mode as Burger Records threw a great party, appropriately entitled, BURGERAMA. Sean Bohrman and the Burger crew, having just come off the heels of EPIC SXSW shows that many rated higher on the "fun-o-meter" than the official SXSW showcases, masterfully orchestrated musical mayhem at a bargain basement price. This was a must see show and it was a bit heart breaking seeing a couple leaving the ticket window with down turned faces and the news of a sold out show saying, "Oh well, I guess we are going to Disneyland."
I decided to go in roam mode between the main stage and the smaller stage in the Constellation room in an effort to catch as much as I could in my brain and camera. This is always a tricky proposition because while you can get a nice over view, you can miss some magic at any given moment when you are at that "other" stage. The following random observations are in no particular order.
Zac from FIDLAR was pulling pranks right away even before the first guitar strain having plastered Danny's (From Pangea) cell phone number on an amp and urging the audience to call it. Even though they played early the crowd was large and enthusiastic. The mix was great and Fidlar sounded especially potent cranking out moshable songs and ratcheting up the intensity throughout their set. Tomorrows Tulips played on the smaller stage awash in a sea of fog. I imagine that Alex Knost may of, for a brief moment, thought he was paddling out on a foggy morning at Rincon. Seriously, I thought that Tomorrows Tulips were using a drum machine, that is how much fucking fog was spewing down on the stage. I am all for atmosphere but I couldn't help but think that the venue (having showcased a ton of heavy metal acts in their day) was kind of stuck in a time warp. Still, Tomorrows Tulips makes dreamy teenage forever sounds and I dug it. King Tuff polished off guitar licks like beers on a weekend binge. With a kind of a post punk Bob Dylan-esque vocal delivery, Kyle Thomas writes strong melodies that can live within almost any musical genre. King Tuff's power punk pop sound is retro and catchy. The Tyde pumped out sunny northern California surf / stoner rock with a strong 60's psychedelic tinge. Front man Darren Rademaker joked that they were the oldest ones performing besides OFF (Keith Morris). It did seem like some of the high school kids who were there to mosh were put off (one kid said under his breath, "They sound like 70's radio rock" - then his girlfriend asked, "How old is the drummer?" With out missing a beat, the smart ass kid replied, "A hundred." Oh, fuck those sarcastic little shits- The Tyde's set was as cool as camping out in Big Sur.
The Strange Boys porch alt country rock fueled the crowd with a homespun vibe and made me want to grab myself up a pulled pork sandwich that was being sold by the one of the bars. These guys music certainly has a dark twinge (lyrically) beneath all the harmonica graced folk. The Abigails played their shimmy shake outlaw country rock that can make you feel slightly inebriated even if you aren't buzzed. Front man Warren Thomas looks like the kind of guy you want on your side if a fight breaks out (little bit of crazy in those eyes). The Lovely Bad Things seemed genuinely surprised at the crazy ass reception they got after their first song. A combination of their set time starting at a lull in big stage action and the fact that they have a strong core OC following made for a perfect storm of moshy, crowd surfing heaven as that room swelled to capacity. It got hot and sweaty quick. The room was pumping and before they performed "You Done Messed Up"- guitarist / drummer Brayden Ward exclaimed (to the crowd) "you're giving me like a huge fat boner right now... this is ridiculous!" It was a safe sex love fest going on here, the crowd never stopped moving and some sang along. SCREEEECH... This is the point and time to talk about Massive Security because before The Lovely Bad Things set, there was only one guy with his annoying little flash light in the Constellation room. During the third song, a contingent of 3 large security guards quickly pushed through the crowd (and through me) as if they were on a rescue mission. I can only imagine that they were called by that lone security dude. I can see him in a panic like he was pinned down in a war zone, "MAY DAY, MAY DAY- hipster kids are dancing about in a festive manner and someone's shoe flew off and hit me in the FAACE!"
Actually, the room was moving, dancing, crowd surfing and gleefully stage diving but nothing was out of control. As is usually the case, when security moves in the "I'll watch out for myself and those around me" dynamic changes to us versus them- that is when control is lost. Those big hulks should of had PASSIVE SECURITY emblazoned on their backs because the best security is passive, the best security is unnoticed. At one point, Cam Ward (drums, guitarist) said on mic to security- "Leave those fucking kids alone." Security who had tried to form a wall in front of the stage were allegedly man-handling some of the kids too aggressively and reportedly struck some kids. I (and my lawyer) want to clearly state that I did not witness this from my vantage point but more than a handful of people relayed this to me. I did witness the security guards confront at least one of The Lovely Bad Things. Allegedly they had accused him of inciting violence to ward the security staff by certain suggestive movements and things that were said on stage. AGAIN- In my opinion the Security was freaking out and making mountains our of molehills or mosh pits or something!
LETS TAKE A MOMENT TO GET BACK TO THE MUSIC PORTION OF THIS OBSERVATIONAL PIECE NOW SHALL WE (Don't worry this security issue will rear it's ugly head again before the night is over)
While I bagged on the over used fog machine earlier, it somehow seemed to fit the power 60's Haight Ashbury meets a high desert crystal meth carnival feel of Feeding People. I just pretended the fog was a wave of pot smoke. Not that I am suggesting these young people are druggies at all but their music does have this amazing psychedelic (and almost psychotic) edge that feels rooted in another time (or dimension). They are incredible and Jessie Jones has a voice that is at once pretty and "smoke a case of ciggies a day" gritty. Hearing Big Mother live was like an early Christmas present! Noah from Dirt Dress with his cool detached demeanor and shaved sidewall haircut was looking a bit like 80's New Waver Gary Neuman. Their set was a combination of post punk slow burners and trancy garage rock with Noah's unmistakable wailing vocals. The Cosmonauts erected a formidable wall of sound, a trippy ass hazy march of psychedelia. It has to be said with conviction, with absolute crystal clear conviction that Ty Segall fucking rocks. I hadn't seen him or shot him since FYF and was surprised to see his shorter hair cut. On stage with Mikal Cronin, Segall let forth a barrage of songs from Melted, Goodbye Bread and more, plus playing a new song and a special song (ala Thee Make Out Party) for the Burger Records Icons of cassette and vinyl bliss ( Sean, Lee and Brian). Apart from the fact that Ty Segall writes such catchy, melodic garage rock that can stoke your soul in any sized venue, the Observatory stage seemed like the perfect fit for his passionate attack and seemingly innate ability to connect with his audience. The guitar lead breaks sounded especially delicious. More than once Ty made the crowd a part of the spectacle as he would set his guitar afloat like a surfboard on the hands of the sea of people and then dive in. At one point he tried to have the crowd be his stage holding the microphone stand for him as he attempted to be held straight up to perform. He ended up kind of flopping about but it was a valiant attempt and besides, crowd surfing on his back, playing rock and roll while adoring fans position his mic for him was a sight to behold. At that moment, the entire room was beaming with a universal smile (or maybe I just imagined that- whateverrrr- it was fucking awesome!).
Keith Morris is a class act. I finally got the chance to meet him and shake his hand. It was hard to believe the reserved man I met was the same Keith Morris on stage raging through a slew of 2 minute long punk songs, his whole body on edge like the bulging vein in his neck, all the while being the witty, acerbic observer of life that he is. Two thirds through OFFs set that dreaded fog machine spewed out a bit. It was almost a bit Spinal Tap-ish and Keith made some comic reference to the that tired old rock convention (mentioning Judas Priest as part of the mini off the cuff remark). It is clear that OFF needs no smoke and mirrors. They are raw, real and in your face and that is all that counts. Obviously the crowd loved them to death.
The Pangea show was something to see, something to experience. The room was full, buzzing and pulsating to crunchy garage rock. The boys were on top of it, tight as hell, playing with abandon and William Keegan's snarky vocals were full of his usual bite and punk pathos. At least in the smaller room, Pangea was one of the last acts, it was one of Burgerama's last hurrah's. The crowd was dense, ready to party and Ty Segall was in the room to support and enjoy his friends. Segall was part of the crowd surfing contingent. It was the Night of the Living Dummy, it was fun as hell and then something weird happened (remember earlier I told you that the Massive Security issue would raise it's ugly head again!). As the crowd packed in close to the stage, non other, than Ty Segall crowd surfed to the delight of the audience. Then all of the sudden he got absorbed by the crowd and disappeared. Everyone stopped playing except the drummer and William still hitting guitar chords. All eyes were focused on Ty who apparently was being roughed up by security. While the song was charging forward, Danny (bass player) got on the mic: (this is what I could make out)-
Danny: "Hey Fuck that! This fucking security guard is outa fucking control. Someone take him outa here. He tried to take our best fucking friend Ty out. Fuck that shit. Some get this fuck outa here. YOU, (pointing at security) you get the fuck outa here... get the fuck outa here. Get the fuck out!." It was surreal as while this was going on Pangea was playing in and out and singing the chorus "I want to fuck with you..." - The drama going on couldn't of fit the song better, it could of been a staged event but it was NOT. It was security flipping out.
After the song ended, Danny continued on the mic, totally pissed off and dumbfounded at what had just happened saying the following (as, at least, one security guard shouted Fuck You back at him several times)- "Hey who's in charge here. You guys are getting out of hand. Get the fuck out of here seriously. You don't belong here. I'm serious. You guys aren't doing anything but hurting our friends so GET OUT! You just tried to kick a headliner (Ty) out of here(???)"
The drama was not over as during the last song, Danny invited the entire audience to come up on stage. It was a crazy and daring FU to the security contingent. Luckily they seemed to back off, maybe it was a logistical decision, I mean, how do you remove a 100 people off a stage or maybe it was the realization that they had just manhandled one of the headliners(?). I don't know- but what happened, while unfortunate, was not a total surprise having witnessed the situation earlier during the Lovely Bad Things set.
The audacity of the Pangea set all gave way to The Audacity from nearby Fullerton. Matt, Kyle, Thomas and Cameron layed down a solid set of punchy ass punk / garage rock songs like they always do. They always make you feel like you are at a sweet back yard house party with free brew. Late in their set, Ty Segall and Pangea's Danny and Erik joined in the musical mayhem. It was freaking ridonkulous!! I only caught a tiny bit of Wavves but heard the set was loved by the crowd and didn't get to see even a smattering of White Fence (my apologies).
Conclusion: Burgerama apart from some of the security issues was a blast and a tremendous sold out affair. You can partially judge the success of any show by the merch area which was pretty much a blaze all day and in speaking to the various people manning the tables- people were enthusiastic and buying stuff. This is a good thing. I hope you all that attended enjoyed all the bands and will continue to support them and their creative endeavors. If you did love the party, stop by Burger Records and let them know. I know they would appreciate the love. Also, a word to my fellow bloggers. Get out of your comfort zone, get off your lazy asses and cover the lesser known bands when you cover multi stage events. Since time immemorial rock and roll has been a medium that has a sense of danger, has elements that kids love but makes parents feel a little uncomfortable. At Burgerama while the large stage had all the accoutrements of a big rock show, the smaller stage at times felt more out of control, more radical and more fun.
If you want to re-live some of Burgerama or if you ended up going to Disneyland instead, check out our YouTube Burgerama Playlist which is ever growing. AND if you want to share some love for American Pancake, then like us on our facebook page.Thanks to Sean for the press creds- and see you at the next show!
AB from AP