TOMORROWS TULIPS – “Flowers on the Wall”
Watching these guys play was a total trip. They had matching blonde bobs and matching mohair sweaters and matching world-weary yet beatific expressions and basically looked like two Anne Frank surfer babe twinsies floating in an amniotic trance. They moved as if underwater or heavy sedation, and even the lead singer’s seemingly unmerited, totally arbitrary decision to smash his guitar to pieces had a soothing, pensive quality. When the dumbass tweens behind us tried to mosh, one of the two shot them an imploring look that was frankly hair-raising. These sexy flaxen freaks had me around their little as-yet-developed fingerbuds from very first oooh.
(TOGETHER) PANGEA – “Night of the Living Dummy”
This was the best act of the whole fest. The schlubby-looking college buds of Together Pangea (whose name always changes) cranked out high-energy, self-reflexive, hearty healthy garage jams, and it was fun, and it was wet, and it was hopping. This is punk at its finest: unpretentious, headbangy, and weirdly warm, the type of music you blast on your stereo when you cruise down the freeway at 3:00 am. “Too Drunk to Come” is a personal favorite.
SHANNON AND THE CLAMS – “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers”
I loved Shannon and the Clams despite the pocket of preteens we found ourselves pushed into for Shannon’s set, and despite said preteens’ ill-advised attempts to mosh and crowd-surf to her kinda peaceful tunes. Shannon’s set came complete with a visit from DMTina Turner, a Burger fan favorite/cult figure/pervert who burst onto Shannon’s stage and poured a box of cornflakes on his head. Ah, performance art.
TY SEGALL – “Girlfriend”
This was the fest’s crowning act and people were freaking out. Honestly I’ve never been touched from so many sides for so sustained a period before. This was like an hour and a half long hug. Ty Segall is pretty much the wunderkind of garage punk; he is really fucking nice, everyone likes him, he’s a great guitar player, and his music is loved by all. He is like the valedictorian of Burger Records. The bazillion people around me unanimously wanted to cradle his head and give him a noogie and forgive his butt crack (always visible) and share nachos with him and let him eat the last and cheesiest one. The vibes were almost too good; I kind of wondered if this alleged DIY shitfest hadn’t morphed into a God Pop revival. He didn’t play this song, but since he seems like such a good guy, I’ll forgive him.
FIDLAR – “No Waves”
Less than three hours into our time at Burgerama, we had already spied four or five Fidlar stick-n-poke tattoos. Mystery of mysteries. I took it upon myself to catalog this phenomenon, slowly building the confidence to ask the next Fidlarite I saw if I could photograph their tattoo. Right before Ariel Pink’s set, we came face to face with the best Fidlar stick and poke yet. I mumbled my request. “Can I take a picture of your tattoo?” “What?” He leaned closer to me to hear better. My heart beat faster. I repeated. Some of my spit flew into his ear. He obliged, though he was obviously disgusted, confused, and uneasy. I took my picture and flashed a thumbs-up. He was already ten steps away when I realized he was in Fidlar. Goddammit.
BLACK LIPS – “Family Tree”
The Black Lips may be far more talented and famous than I but they are from Dunwoody, Georgia and I will never let them forget it. Having gone to high school in Dunwoody, I know exactly what the Black Lips are made of. White bread upon white bread. Regardless, I always took their humble origins as sort of a selling point, or at least, as an inspiration: if they can vomit onstage and call it music, a young Eric used to daydream, then why can’t I? Seeing them in California was even crazier, considering how far I (and they) had come since our respective Dunwoody days (daze); this time around, they didn’t vomit on stage, but they didn’t disappoint, either.
THE KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW – “Kiss My Sister’s Fist”
OK, I’m going to be honest. I listened to this set while in line for (and then, inside) a port-a-potty. I genuinely liked this song, but have to admit that it was their more rambunctious “Tastebuds” that stuck out above the stench of the toilets: read the lyrics here, if you dare.
PALMA VIOLETS – “English Tongue”
These motherfuckers were weird af. In order to stay in the front row for the Black Angels we had to suffer through, horror of horrors, MadLib, an allegedbly popular rap act who was punking the punks with his completely illogical act, who kept shoving his mike in OUR faces and demanding we sing along. I “watermelon, watermelon”‘ed for my dear life, terrified of being called out for “not feeling it.” Palma Violets came on next, yet another unknown act. It was like Oxford schoolboys on a wedgie-giving mission. Their accents were hilarious, their lead-singer desperately in need of a Xanax, their music a corresponding hodgepdoge of metal, folk, and war-crys of “BISCUIT!” Perhaps due to the recent memory of MadLib’s evil-eye emccee, I found myself bouncing along.
THE COATHANGERS – “Adderall”
Girl bands were few and far between at this year’s Burgerama (see also: Bleached) but the Coathangers took it a step further – the three could have passed for identical triplets. Three times the angst, three times the fun.
TOBACCO – “Eruption”
SEXY SEXY SEXY!!! SEXY SEX!!!! SEXXX! XXX! 18+!!!!! Tobacco’s set was smooth and oily, and his slinky-dinky sounds were made literal by his elaborate video set-up, projecting pansexual porn for all kinds onto Jumbo-tronned letters spelling out – you guessed it – T O B A C C O. This is what your parents – and Smokey the Bear – were afraid of. Tobacco was maybe the best act we saw, for his musical artistry and for stepping outside the rather narrow punk box.
TIJUANA PANTHERS – “Creature”
We had to miss Tijuana Panthers. And so we mourn another sad and trivial casualty of the overscheduled music festival. Still <3 this song though.
CHERRY GLAZERR – “White’s Not My Color This Evening”
All I see are mimes. Mimes all around. Scraping off their face paint. Ripping off their clothes. Punching holes in that invisible wall. Mimes. Everywhere. Mouth it with me: Angry Mimes.
BLEACHED – “You Take Time”
It’s kind of weird and embarrassing and strange that we both saw Bleached for the first time at EBF Happy Hour. But whatever, they were gud then and they’re gud now. If I remember correctly, we sat down for this set, resting our legs and giving a man in a (fairly impressive) authentic pirate’s outfit the up-down.
WHITE FENCE – “Pink Gorilla”
White Fence was mean mugging. This was another instance where oversexed, teenage delinquents (lol) thought they could mosh to anything. I was trying to contemplate the prisms of intergalactic sound spun by this sad, somber silver fox but alas, the odor of armpit and gentle but relentless motion, rather like that of a doomed paddleboat, distracted me from wholly engaging with the soft psychedelia that I’d played so often in the blissfully empty (but still armpitty) solitude of my room.
FROTH – “Lost My Mind”
Sadly, this band played too late at night for us to stick around. Sonic and its 2,000 calorie peanut butter milkshake was a-calling. Driving back to campus, however, we discovered that Froth was indeed an excellent band, the dreamy softcore that one craves after six straight hairs of screamo. Forgive us, Froth. We will now be playing you during our next respective make-out sessions (with people who aren’t each other, to be clear).
ARIEL PINK – “Picture Me Gone”
Oh Ariel. Can we talk? Not sure I had ever seen someone with such a beautiful sound so FULLY miss the visual mark. Sweatpants, an apron, studded heels, and a laughable wig added up to an image that didn’t Fuck the Man but instead merely tickled him under the chin. His drummer had a serious case of senior citizen rocker syndrome – the one where you think that the audience (of 1,000+ people) would like nothing more than to see you twirl your drumstick above your meaty bikini-clad frame again and again and again. Ariel Pink and his gang of nursing home runaways also spent more than half their set fiddling with equipment. Because they’re real musicians, man. Nonetheless, when they actually played, it was as haunting and thought-provoking as I hoped. But goddammit, that rascal didn’t play “Baby,” which made me say: wah.
BLACK ANGELS – “Bad Vibrations”
OK, we made a mistake. We should have stayed for The Black Angels’ entire set. But Fidlar was playing at the same time and we felt peer pressure. So, instead of seeing this tie-dyed frightfest to its gristly end and indulging wholly in the Kubrick-esque dreamscape of The Black Angels, a local band credited for popularizing neo-psychedelia, we got caught in a traffic jam halfway between the two acts. This being said, what we did catch of The Black Angels was certified groovy — taut, jangly, sinister, upbeat, Beetle Juicy…imagine if Jefferson Airplane did the soundtrack to a Japanese horror film. If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear an inverted crucifix. Listen to these miniskirted witches OR ELSE.