Here is my long overdue review of Burger Boogaloo 2017. As I mentioned here I decided to attend only on Sunday, July 2. Although that meant perhaps missing my one chance to see Iggy Pop in this lifetime, I felt the Saturday ticket was overpriced at $99 and there were overall more interesting bands on Sunday. I stand by my choice.
This would be my second time attending Burger Boogaloo. I went last year as kind of a fluke, and had a good time, so I was game again this year. Festivals are not my ideal way of enjoying music. The idea of spending an entire day, trapped in a large crowd of people, sitting through a bunch of so-so acts, waiting for the one or two bands that I am actually excited about, is not my idea of fun. But Burger Boogaloo is on a reasonable scale – not too huge. The crowd is friendly, colorful, spanning generations but leaning towards older people, attracted to the largely retro sounds of the Burger Records artists. There’s a good selection of food and drink, some merch booths, and John Waters introduces the bands. So what more could you ask for?
All the bands I watched were having a good time, and gave an enthusiastic performance. I watched every band in the lineup, with the exception of Roy Loney and FM Knives. I went and got food or something during their sets, but they seemed kinda boring to me. Although I probably wouldn’t buy the album for most of the acts, they were all enjoyable live, and had something unique to offer. Some of the highlights for me:
Glitter Wizard – like a lot of the bands that play this quasi retro 60s 70s 80s festival, Glitter Wizard was kind of campy. Sometimes camp falls on its face, but Glitter Wizard really worked for me. They were kind of a big hair, glam rock sort of act. Their lead guitar player was burly, and rugged, with a beard and a mass of black hair. If Vikings could be rock stars, they would be Glitter Wizard.
La Luz. This band was one of my primary motivations for deciding on the Sunday lineup. I watched a live La Luz set on YouTube and was hooked. They have a great retro surf-rock sound, and look like they’re having a lot of fun. This was a totally fun set, and I bought their CD Weirdo Shrine, and a cool shirt that says “Luzer” on it.
After La Luz played in the small Gone Shrimpin’ stage, I wandered over to “Butt City” to catch NRBQ. I didn’t have very high expectations. I thought they would be kinda boring, but in fact they kicked ass. They’re old rockers that are still rocking. The keyboard player was especially pumped, and would stand and jump around behind his keyboards, climb up on the amps and stuff. I’m not familiar with their music at all, but they put on on a kick-ass show.
Quintron and Ms. Pussycat. I had checked out some videos of this duo, and was definitely intrigued. Their live performance definitely exceeded my expectations in many dimensions. It started off with a bizarre puppet show – I couldn’t see too well, as the theater was packed and I was way off to the side. But it had something to do with a fashion show. The puppet booth stayed on the right side of the stage during their set. Quintron is a keyboard and electronic music prodigy, and his rig involved a couple of keyboards, a kick drum, and some various homemade looking gadgets. Ms. Pussycat did the vocals, shook maracas, and was occasionally joined by another vocalist on center stage. They had a fun, danceable sound, and a slightly subversive energy, reminiscent of Le Tigre. Definitely glad I got to check them out.
Shannon and the Clams was the only band from last year that was playing again – I think they’re kind of a tradition. They were great last year, and even better this year. I was at the back of orchestra at the Gone Shrimpin’ stage, which soon turned into a big mosh pit and stage diving party. Their sound is kind of retro rock and roll, with Shannon’s powerful vocals and Cody Blanchard’s twangy guitars. They have a strong local following that likes to party – there would be 4 or 5 audience members being passed overhead at any one time. They sang one emotional song that was about the Ghost Ship fire. For the last couple of songs members of La Luz and Quintron came out, colorful wigs were tossed into the audience and mayhem ensued.
X was one of my favorite bands at a point in time, and I saw them a couple of times in the 80’s when they were in their heyday. I still have a lot of love for X, and even more so because of their connection with Skating Polly which is, as you know, my favorite new band. Dawn and I saw X not too long ago at the Catalyst, so I didn’t have any energy around getting close to the stage. I was content to just hang back at a comfortable distance and enjoy the music. They sounded great, and played a good selection from their fabulous catalog of ground-breaking LA punk. Billy Zoom was definitely in full force, with tasty riffs on the Les Paul and even played saxophone on a couple of numbers. Definitely a good set.
The Buzzcocks were the final act of the festival. I had seem them once before at the I-Beam in SF during the 80s, which already seemed like sort of a reunion show. Now it was 30 years later. They actually put on a great show. Sure they’re in their sixties, and playing songs written 35 years ago mostly, but their songs are truly great, and they were in great form and seemed to be enjoying themselves. The set ended with my favorite Harmony in My Head, and I made my way for the exit. They came back for an encore, which I listened to as I walked back to my car. It was the perfect end to a great day of music.