Moshing in Mosswood: Day 1 of Burger Boogaloo 2014

07/07/2014

Great sequels are about raising the stakes and Burger Records‘ fifth annual Burger Boogaloo did just that. The all-ages festival flooded Mosswood Park’s lone stone ampitheatre and filled it to the brim with balloons, streamers, and colorful Oakland weirdos. The shows were quick (30-60 minutes each), day-lit (or would have been if not for delays), and everybody–staff, security, and festival goers–was in good spirits. All in all, the Burger Boogaloo put on the table everything essential to American summer fun: burgers, beer, sunshine, jean shorts, and rock and roll.

Wand

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If you blended some early Sabbath records, a couple of joints, a few tabs of acid, and an Aleister Crowley paperback into a smoothie and served it to four young dudes from LA with long hair and guitars, this is what you would get. Wand is about black t-shirts, black jeans, and loud pentatonic riffs – they really nail the pedigree. “This next song is about a monster in the sky that sees our planet. It’s called ‘Flying Gollum.'” Even their name, in evoking both mystical and phallic imagery, emulates the giants of metal before them. They are currently on tour with Ty Segall.

Thunderroads

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This Tokyo power-trio earned rock n’ roll points for a guitar solo atop the twenty foot speaker tower.

Reigning Sound

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When Greg Cartwright took to the stage late, one concert-goer quipped that “he probably had to take his catheter out.” Despite Cartwright’s soccer dad appearance, his Asheville, NC quintet, Reigning Sound, still captivated its audience. Their unadorned mid-tempo rock sounded majestic as Dave Amels’s massive tonewheel organ added scope and created a Dylanesque vibe. These were mellow grooves perfect for a Saturday afternoon in the park.

Phantom Surfers

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Imagine fifteen or so grandpas in sparkly purple tuxedos and Zorro masks playing surf rock and making bird noises.

The Bananas

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A Sacramento power-trio with a Homer Simpson-like frontman possessing a leopard print Snuggie and a gigantic mouth.

NOBUNNY

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As Justin Champlin paraded around the stage in a leather jacket, layers of dark underwear, and a terrifying rabbit mask, his band NOBUNNY played abrasive garage punk with hints of 50s’ doowop, ala The Ramones. Champlin was the center of the storm, singing in a nasal Bugs Bunny voice and stomping madly around the stage while occasionally stopping to gyrate his frumpy body seductively. I was hoping to sneak away to the food vendors, but I couldn’t look away, transfixed by horror and amazement.

Milk ‘N’ Cookies

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It’s not very easy to describe this band, perhaps a combination of 1970s punk rock and Top 40 lyrical sentiments. Hearing their middle-aged singer croon about teen angst was admittedly strange, but the music still grooved.

OFF!

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This hardcore supergroup, headed by Circle Jerks/Black Flag singer Keith Morris, isn’t just a collection of musicians from other bands that decided to throw some songs together. Over the Boogaloo weekend, OFF! resided on another plateau when it came to passion and technical precision. The rhythm section pulsed with mechanical accuracy while Dimitiri Coats’s guitar screeched at unprecedented volumes. (The sound guy’s face seemed to say “that’s not where he was when I sound checked him!”) Needless to say, the excited mosh pit created a thick cloud of dust and spilled onto the stage, an energy that dissipated only briefly when Morris took to the soap box between songs to rant about Christopher Columbus.

Thee Oh Sees

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Unfortunately, this is where the delays caught up with the festival. Since the shows were only scheduled to be on during the daylight, John Dwyer’s new stripped-down version of Thee Oh Sees went on at 9pm with no stage lights. What couldn’t really be seen, though, sounded fantastic. In the new configuration, Dwyer went off into guitar improvisations that brought new angles to standards like “The Dream.”

Photos by Gracie Malley