Burgerama is very intriguing. Spawned by the most explosive record label in the last few years, it creates an atmosphere of busy confusion, body heat and loud music. It’s very crowded, frequented mostly by teenagers. Burgerama is like taking every group of drunk high schoolers at various parks on a Friday night in July and putting them in a fenced in parking lot in 90 degree weather, with access only to shitty burgers and $3 water bottles.
But against all odds, it works.
Even more importantly, upon closer inspection, this is a diverse group of supportive young minds with an ear for current and up and coming art in their community. The whole operation works because the people who care about this music were there. It wasn’t as much about being wacky, dressing weird, and taking hallucinogens as other festivals are, it was for the music and also it was only 90 bucks.
The event is produced by Burger Records, a label formed in 2007 by Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard. Burger Records is at the forefront of championing and preserving the heavy undercurrent of contemporary garage, punk, psychedelic, and all things rock-and-roll that flows beneath the murky mainstream. At Burgerama, the label’s epic two-day showcase of nearly 100 different musical acts, this scene thrives in an exciting and fresh form unseen for decades past. Hailing from as far as Melbourne and Madrid, to the more familiar San Francisco and Los Angeles, artists and fans alike congregated to celebrate the glory that is all things Burger.
Headliners like Weezer and Burger-Prophet Ty Segall commanded thousands of hyper-enthusiastic fans of all ages with mind-boggling power and ease. This is, however, not the most important aspect of this festival: hours before Weezer, the same fans had the chance to see and support acts on the opposite side of fame, consistently playing their largest shows yet.
(((See below for our rapid-fire reviews of all the shows we saw!)))
Twin Peaks (Chicago), a group of high-energy, slightly drunken Midwest rockers in their early 20s had the greatest time of their life in front of hundreds of eager fans. Twin Peaks’ vintage yet unique garage punk sound fit the scene perfectly, and their wild and loose live performance brought a new light to their recorded sounds. The Burgerama format is unique and excellent in that it allows audiences a glimpse at what smaller-ticket acts might look like as headlining acts, as most bands throughout the weekend played to crowds significantly larger than their average shows.
International acts like Hinds (Madrid), Twerps (Melbourne), Palma Violets (South London), and Girl Band (Dublin) had the opportunity to expose their music to a primarily American crowd, as well as participate in the festival themselves and get a bird’s eye view on the scene.
Burgerama was a garage rocker’s paradise, complete with wailing guitars, blasting drums and colorful personalities. You might expect this presentation if you’re familiar with Burger Records and the artists they represent, but the most exciting part is sampling the huge splendor of bands. One of the most interesting aspects of the festival was their decision to book hip-hop acts completely out of place in the lineup’s context: Bone Thugs’n’Harmony and the legendary Madlib (AKA Quasimoto) played to crowds completely different from what they were used to, yet received nothing but love and a surprising amount of genre-hopping fans rapping along and bobbing their heads. The effect of this combination of genres results like a bag of candy, one in which you dig through and follow your sweet tooth.
Saturday and Sunday presented different vibes. Santa Ana was hot and sunny, and the heat took a visible toll on some of the main stage performers. Saturday was pretty crowded once the afternoon shows got started and the rowdiness was in full effect. Sunday, on the other hand, was the secret ticket. The music was immensely heavy, with paralyzing performances by Thee Oh Sees, Witch (J Mascis on drums and King Tuff on lead guitar/vocals…), Ty Segall and the Meatbodies, among many others. Moreover, there were less attendees on Sunday, which made the crowd easier to navigate and the mosh easier to comprehend.
The plethora of new bands also created a space for new audience members, many of which were young’ns. Burgerama surely introduced a ton of L.A. high schoolers to the festival scene, but was also attractive to demographics across the board. Bands with longtime fans like Weezer, Gang of Four, The Black Lips, The Queers, and J Mascis can be credited with bringing out the masses, while smaller groups like Broncho and Twerps added an element of freshness that comprises the core of Burgerama, leaving room for consistent discovery and an opportunity to support lesser known acts throughout both days.
On the surface, Burgerama is a sweaty, wild music festival still very much in its formative phase, booking similar yet excellent acts for four years straight; on a deeper level, the fest is an incubator for a musical scene reminiscent of an 80s punk, 60s psychedelia, 90s grunge fusion with a contemporary twist and thousands of die-hard fans keeping it alive and pushing it all along.
La Luz: Four girls that make psych rock. Which is good. The keyboardist was the best.
Broncho: One of the tightest bands rhythmically at the fest. Lead by squeaky singing frontman, and carried by the drummer who looks like the drummer for the Gorillaz in their cartoon videos.
The Coathangers: Mexican hat trick artists, piercing vocalists.
Jeff the Brotherhood: Guardians of shred, garage rock on steroids.
Together Pangea: Proving to be a classic Burger band, TP made me want to actually go into the pit more than any other band (lasted for 20 seconds)
Tomorrows Tulips: Androgenous apathetic surfer-models-(twins?). Check out their “Baby & Glued to You” video.
Madlib: Beats and Joints
Gang of Four: UK post-punk, laying down rigid and cold grooves since 1977.
Beach Fossils: Jangly guitars, beautiful melodies. Relaxing vibes and fun to watch
Hinds: All-girl band from Madrid. Fantastic fun and phat.
Black Angels: Guardians of hell’s gates, the band’s name defines their sound perfectly. Austin psych wizards.
Weezer: Played the classic cuts; Weezer is like the Justice League of bands, four extremely talented performers with the stage presence of broadway legends. They had one chick from the Coathangers and Rivers’ (Weezer front-man) dad come up and sing/play drums. Both additions were cool, but slight bummers.
White Fang: Aggressively hilarious punk band that doesn’t shower, smokes alot of weed and is damn proud of it. If you ever have the chance to see a White Fang show…do it.
The Garden: Orange County twins making heavy, fun art-punk with a twangy bass guitar and crazy drummer.
Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel: One of the funnest shows there, up-beat keyboard driven jams with happy moshing for all.
King Khan & BBQ Show: An asshole and his friend
Twerps: Delicious melodies from this Melbourne based outfit. They are lush, wonderful and ethereal. Check out their latest album, Range Anxiety, out on Merge Records to get a taste.
Thee Oh Sees: Amazing, one of the biggest mosh pits at the fest; John Dwyer’s intense stage presence mixed with two perfectly synchronized drummers and a radical bass guitarist came together as a force to be reckoned with.
Witch: Everything J. Mascis does is awesome; Mascis drums with King Tuff on lead guitar/vocals, with two additional guitarists making heavy stoner metal.
Ariel Pink: Annoying at first. But at least they’re consistent.
Twin Peaks: Looks like one of the funnest bands to play in. Four drunken, hyper-enthusiastic Chicago/New Jersey shredders with lots of really good songs and an exhilarating stage presence.
J Mascis (solo set): Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr., sat down with a guitar, a loop pedal, pages of musical notation, and a microphone. The rest was history.
Tennis: Solid pop jingle that were pretty impressive live, they’re getting prolific and it is easy to see why.
The Black Lips: Playing a variety of tracks from their catalog. Road-test entertainers who threw burgers and toilet paper at the audience.
Nick Waterhouse: Solid. Different from every other band there and it was nice to see woodwinds make an appearance
Ty Segall: By now a Burgerama veteran and messiah of all things shred. Heavy punk music with lots of screaming and beautifully heavy guitar solos.
Jacco Gardner: Some real groovy classic psych rock, one of the strongest acts of the bunch.
The Lovely Bad Things: 9:45 of Day 2, was not taking any more loud music very well at that point.
The Queers: Punk legends! Great opportunity, very high energy set, fun to watch their OG fans drowning in nostalgia.
Meatbodies: Revived us for one last run-about. Glad to end the whole experience with some certifiably insane looking guitarists playing their hearts out.
Plenty of the weekend’s performers have played in Eugene before and are touring through the northwest this spring. Bass Drum of Death and The Garden are two bands who have visited us in the recent past and we are looking forward to more in the future.
April 6 – Tomorrows Tulips @ The Barn Light, Eugene
May 27 – Twin Peaks @ Mississippi Studios, Portland
We love you,