Notes From an Aging Punk
Biting into Burgerama 2015

It was a hot and by no means fragrant day at Burgerama 2015 in Santa Ana, California. When I think of Santa Ana, I think of Joan Didion raising her highball in a poignant gestures to suitors past. If Joan had been at this particular music festival, she probably would’ve been snapped in two and a helluva lawsuit launched against whichever goober halved her.

Here are my impressions from the fest.

Circling the nondescript suburbs in search of free parking, it was easy to spot the Burger Boys n Gals (as they are called) lining up in tattooed droves. Let us first reflect on the hamburger: rockabilly manna, dgaf sk8tr snack, where Americana nostalgia and caloric arrogance combine in one drunksi democratic patty.

Burger boys follow suit: a pleasing mixture of arty and crass, less headachy than the hipster but still riding the chillwave of masculine privilege, stick n pokes of Nietzsche quotes and L-O-L alongside skateboard scabs: buttoned-up shirts and jammed flies. I admit it: I have a soft spot for Burger Boys. Despite their wiry punk framework, they have the feminine mannerisms one sometimes sees in diehard stoners–a trailing voice, a fondness for birthstones… I don’t mistake this airiness for genderfuckery, but I do find it attractive. Sue me, B. Friedan.

So Eric and I plunged into this tasty crowd, which was a lot like plunging into a swimming pool. I was bathed by Burger but certainly not cleansed.

I have a serious question. When did preteens become so cool? I fucking missed the memo. The mean age of concertgoers was 25, but the hottest people around were hands down the fourteen-year-olds. These scrappy little devils were winking and twinking their way to the front of the crowd, and elbowing us slower folks with such cute abandon that we simply said, shucks. Their lack of fatty deposits and accumulated regrets made it easy for them to crowd-surf, and wave after wave of SoCal Lolitas were passed like challah (golden, twisted, loved by all) over our fraying heads.

But actually — who postered Santa Ana elementary school for this fest? When I was 13, I would have shit a brick for tickets to, say, a Phantom of the Opera Broadway revival. What’s more punk than unrequited love in the underworld of Victorian Paris? I planned my outfit for the Renaissance Fair with as much finesse and precision as they planned their chic-as-fuck crop top and Doc Marten combos. Like, if by some unimaginable twist of fate I had managed to sneak into Burgerama at age 14, I almost certainly would have worn a bolero–with a shirt underneath? I can’t say. Olé. I mean, some girls were even wearing baseball hats–AND THEY LOOKED GOOD. Did they just come from playing t-ball??

Needless to say, I felt conflicted, especially when I overheard their conversations. “I can tooooootally gets us backstage tonight. My brother knows the bassist of FIDLAR. They are SO SEXY.” I mean, dare to dream, girls, that’s cool with me, but may I remind you that Almost Famous is a work of fiction and herpes is for life. But so is bitterness, and in moments of sisterly camaraderie I was tempted to grab one of these sprites by the strap of her bralette and whisper, “Sombrero, not beanie.” In a sea of bobbing bros, there was much evidence to the contrary.

Looking past this peewee league of thirsty tweens with as many Instagram followers as I have ova, I must admit, the fest was a wild success. At first, I felt a bit out of place, perhaps more like a soy nugget than a true burger gal, but as soon as I saw someone puking into his snapback at 11:30 am, I realized we’re are all just humans, man. The music was as dope as we’d hoped. For more detailed reflections on the music and the specific bands themselves, check out Eric’s and my EXCELLENT playlist here. My only qualm about the entire fest would be a lack of what I call mosh pit etiquette, as certified by me.

This may seem to be an oxymoron, the idea that one must follow certain rules when ramming their undersexed body against someone else’s, but ask any punk (or aging punk, as it were)–there is a CODE. A mosh pit sort of evokes the scenes from March of the Penguins when they all huddle for warmth, but instead of being narrated by Morgan Freeman, it’s as if someone gave Satan a quaalude and a microphone. Moshing is violent, but simultneously tender. When someone gets smashed to the ground, someone else picks you up. It’s a bit like hug therapy, on crack perhaps. I’m not sure if this is a thing, but that’s what the center of the pit feels like to me,

Let’s reflect. What sort of people enjoying noshing, that which seems from the outside to be an empirically unpleasant experience? Well, I happen to enjoy a good mosh now and then, and in my humble experience, I have identified three dominant archetypes of moshers. Into which category I fall, I leave up to you. The types are as follows:

A. The desperately horny loner whose monthly quota of physical contact is to be fulfilled solely by this pit. Telltale signs: studded belt, Anime collection, an arresting and lugubrious gaze.

B. The ADD teenager (or, as it were, PRETEEN) who uses the pit as a way to release his truly staggering reserves of energy–hook that kid up to a generator and global warming’s solved, I tell you. These are the crowd-surfers, the elbow-jabbers, the spit-ballers. Guard your face from Group B, your loins from Group A.

C. The aging punks (we’re talking 25+) who shirk responsibility and day-jobs in communication to let it all hang out. This is how they reconnect with their younger, thinner selves (who we were perhaps once group B-types); trust and believe, the blunt bangs will fly. Fist-bump with Group C.

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There is a delicate balance that must be maintained in a mosh pit, where ying levels out yang levels out shmang levels out stank, and if I  may say so, I felt that Burgerama attracted ever so slightly too many group A-types. The touch lingered a bit too long, like, after the music ended. But hey, at least I saved a life.

My low point, and a perfect example of Group A at its worst, was during Bones Thugs n Harmony. This is nothing against them (although 90’s rap at a DIY surfer-punk festival did confuse me), but rather, the milky-eyed fellow who slide in between Eric and I, affording me an up close and personal view of the crusty nail in his head. Yes. CRUSTY NAIL. Not a band name. Not a piercing. A flaky, pin-sized relic from last night’s virgin sacrifice. Needless to say, Good Sir was rolling really hard, and distracted me entirely from Bone Thugs n Harmony’s valiant show. I was downwind of him, and the dandruff was real. Oh democracy, I draw a line. NAIL IN THE HEAD. That’s not punk, that’s psychotic.

But I am a pioneer, not to be deterred by such minor disturbances. My dreams may be haunted by the memory of his pelvis, grinding slowly to the music, but at least I have nice pictures to look at and stories to tell of an all-around stellar weekend in Santa Ana. We chowed down on some juicy jams and burned off the calories while attempting to stay afloat (read: alive) in the many fetid mosh-pits that took place throughout the day. Oh, to be young. Oh, to be meaty. Til 2016, Burgerama.

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