Monday, April 7, 2014

BURGERAMA 3- Late Reflection: The Burger Records Boys Outdo Themselves


















The envy of indie loving east coasters everywhere, Burgerama took place in Southern, California a couple of weeks ago on March 22nd and 23rd. This was the 3rd year in a row and the aptly named Burgerama III grew from what was ostensibly a 1500 to 2000 person venue to a 4,500 to 5,000 person show-bang. Estimates from more than one source put the figure at slightly more the 5 K. This slice of indie heaven was held at the Observatory in Santa Ana and the boys at Burger Records was able to pump up the volume by enclosing the parking lot and adding a large stage named RAMA in addition to the usual big main stage and the smaller stage in the Constellation room. More than 70 bands, some from the Burger stable of artists and some not churned out a head spinning array of sounds. As is always the case with festivals like this it took copious amounts of planing, of charts, and set lists on smart phones to strategically figure out how you could see the bands you wanted or hope to see.  The best laid plans of indie mice and men are doomed to failure and I seemed to miss more bands than I saw. This was not only due to my poor planning but due to me not feeling all that well that weekend. I also seemed to be diverted by running into friends and, in the end, those kind of changed plans are always worth it. A festival, after all is not about each performance but about the atmosphere and scattered memorable moments that stick with you.

Over the two days these things did stick with me.

1: The airport like security. I witness more than one sad, sad face as bong pipes were being pulled out of pockets left and right. One would think you would do a better job of hiding such things.

2: The Bearded guy at the Rama Stage. The guy never left his post. With zen like prowess this guys seemingly had no need to eat or go to the bathroom. When you view the videos on my Burgerama playlist (down below) you will see him. He is easy to pick out.

3: Lines to get into the Observatory. Throughout the course of the day, the Observatory would get so stuffed full of people that security would have to NOT let people in, until people left. When the Allah-Las played the main stage inside you barely had enough room to shimmy against the wall and kind of bounce off bodies that seemed to occupy every square inch of real estate.

4: Contact high. Despite my line item 1 there was a fair amount of puffing going on. Bassist Ronnie Barlett of The Muffs asked "Is there anywhere you can go at Burgerama where it doesn't smell like weed?? .... probably not."

5: Cool OC cops and Security. I am not usually a fan of OC cops or security at music venues but they seemed pretty chill at Burgerama.

6: 60's sheik. There were a fair amount of people looking very 60's from the Mod Brit style to American hippie and I am not just talking about the Mystic Braves.

7: Hawaiian Shirts. I saw a lot more Hawaiian shirt as guys crowd surfed by like they were doing the back stroke. It was beachy, loud and all floral and I am not just talking about The Tyde.

8: Shoes and more shoes. Thrown shoes and shoes held in the air. Fucking shoes.

9: Group sing a-longs. Together Pangea playing through the pain (sore throats) and Mac Demarco seemed to inspired unbridled sing a-longs for most of their sets and it was awesome.

10. Swollen Photo Pit during the Growlers. Somehow a lot of people invaded the photo pit who were not photographers and who shouldn't of had access. It was like a mini- photo pit riot trying to get out of there.

11. Normal Growlers. Was I the only one who thought it odd to see Brooks sporting shades and everyone looking so normal?? I missed the dancing mermaids and foil over everything.

12. Battle scars. I talked to a bunch of kids on Sunday about their Saturday and the talk was of battle scars, of being painfully sore, bruised, and bloodied from all the squishy moshy madness. One guys said he suffered a concussion. Not sure if there was doctor who gave him the diagnosis.

13. Food lines. Ok, I love Burgerama but this time around there should of been at least 3 more Food trucks. The lines were pretty awful.

14: That one weird girl. This girl came up to me got real close leaned on me and asked who was playing next on the Rama stage. I politely answered and then she proceeded to take my pic with a disposable camera immediately saying afterward, "You ruined my fucking picture."  Later on as I entered the photo pit she was in the front and proceeded to flip me off. I actually don't think there was any film in the camera.

15: Photographers, photographers and more photographers. The photo pits were over stuffed at times and someone should do an article about the photographer culture because there certainly are distinct personality types in that world. So awesome to hang a bit wit Philip, Samuel, Tiff and meet Marisa. I consider myself to be a hack of sorts so anytime I obtain pit access I feel lucky.

RANDOM BAND REFLECTIONS:

Mozes and The Firstborn:  The band from the Netherlands cranked out song after song of catchy indie rock which critics have referred to as "sunny grunge" and that is a pretty apt description. They sounded excellent live. Memorable hooky lead licks, the bass players sex thrust playing style cracked me up. The drummer had those Dave Grohl heavy hands and lead singer/ guitarist proficiently had the crowd eating out of his hands. I

White Fang: Portland garage rockers can bang out big doses of guitar laden rock with equal parts hilarity. Their set musically can feel like a binge of sorts on the drug of your choice.

The Muffs: One of the "senior" bands at Burgerama 3 they still crank it out so good. Kim Shattuck is 50 years old but looks like a thirty something. Her voice is killer and they are as tight as they should be. During their set I felt like there was a bit of audience disconnect. Just a bit. It could of been that the crowd was so young that the generational invisible age barrier sprung up. I don't know. I just noticed it during a few songs. For the rest of the set the crowd keyed in and showed the appreciation that the Muffs deserved.

The Lovely Bad Things:  Dancing and crowd surfing is the norm when The Lovely Bad Things play at Burgerama but it was a trip to see an old fashioned circle pit spontaneously pop up during their set. I think the last time I saw such a thing was at an OFF show last year. Despite an early set time and long lines through painstakingly slow security, two songs in, the Rama stage was packed and the Lovelies played a killer set maintaining a heavy punk/ pop foothold all the while switching instruments every couple of songs. They have clearly fostered a love connection with their Burgerama fan base.

Gap Dream: After some damn good street tacos I needed something dreamy and Gap Dream was the ticket. I thoroughly enjoyed the arpeggio laden synth lines that swelled into the darkness of the main Observatory room.

Together Pangea:  Nursing sore throats from a heavy tour schedule, the boys kicked out old and newer songs to throngs of jubilant fans who sang along. Lead singer / guitarist William Keegan seemed like he was in a happy buzzy daze when he said, " This is the biggest crowd we've ever played to." The crowd did seem to go on forever and as they churned out their songs crowd surfers spilled over into the photo pit. Great set.

The Tyde:  I saw this rather large band at Burgerama last year and appreciated their music but didn't feel that always important connection. I caught the end of their set and it clicked for me. These guys are like Fish mixed with the Beach Boys. Good stuff!

Mac DeMarco:  I am not a heavy DeMarco fan mainly because I am not that familiar with their material and he is Canadian (I am kidding). I am a new convert after seeing him at Burgerama. Amazingly fun and endearing music. In terms of the harmonies, the tightness of the music, one of the better live acts I saw at the festival.

The Abigails:  Doesn't everyone have an uncle like Warren Thomas? Ok, maybe not but we all know someone who has an uncle like the Abigails front man. He maneuvers the amiable hippy trippy songs like a tipsy guy carrying 4 of his friends beers filled to the brim of the glasses without spilling a drop. Totally chill music.

Cherry Glazerr: Few bands have a distinct sound, one that you can recognize instantly. Cherry Glazerr does.

The Garden: I like to call what these boys do "Abstract Punk."  Unique as all get out I think their best gigs is at venues when the audience is only inches away from them. You lose that intense house show feel at a festival like this but just the same they make the crowd go nuts.

That is all I have to say for now. Thanks Sean for the press creds. They were much appreciated.
Already looking forward to Burgerama 4!!!
-
Robb Donker

Check out the AP Burgerama Performance Videos Here:  Burgerama 3 Playlist

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