Burger Boogaloo Throws a DIY Festival For the Ages in Oakland

Burger Boogaloo
Mosswood Park (Oakland)

Over the long holiday weekend, I traveled to Burger Records’ 8th annual Burger Boogaloo held at Mosswood Park in Oakland. You’re probably wondering what would compel anyone from OC to drive 400 miles up to Oakland for a show during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Well, the first 22 reasons definitely had to be the bands. This year’s lineup, hosted by legendary director/weirdo John Waters, was the festival’s biggest to date. Highlights of the two-day Boogaloo included the rockabilly rage of Bloodshot Bill, punk vets like Redd Kross, X and The Buzzcocks, ‘60s rock innovators NRBQ, Japanese jet rock trio Guitar Wolf, lo-fi madman NoBunny, and the coup de grâce, a headlining performance by punk’s grandmaster Iggy Pop.

It was the 23rd reason that made this Iggy trip a little special form the last few times I have gone to some exotic local to see the Igg. It’s because it was all put on by Orange County’s own Burger Records. My relationship with Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard of Burger Records goes back long before their record store and label in Fullerton hit it big. I’ve known them both since the early 2000s when they were in their late teens and were part of the Anaheim kids as we called them when their band The Make Out Party used to play regularly at my old gallery and DIY music venue AAA Electra 99. I was looking forward to seeing the boys all grown up and running the show themselves.

And what a show it was. More than 7000 festival goers, ranging in age from 14 to 70, filled the park to capacity both days. Two stages, food vendors and all that comes with it, and right in the center of it all a little tent where Sean sits selling Burger paraphernalia and pushing their new cassette player, the Burger Buddy, a portable Walkman-style tape player that will also convert your tapes to MP3s (only $49.95 at your nearest Burger outlet). Rickard, on the other hand was more difficult to find as he was running around the park taking care of Burger business.

It was a perfect weekend for the two days of Boogalooing, which started promptly at 12:30 p.m. and ended even more promptly at 9:30. The festival seemed well organized with most lines moving fairly quickly and set times that ran pretty much to the minute. At 2:05 on the Butt City stage (the main stage) a man with brown hair and sunglasses began to introduce the first band. Wounded Lion, You could hear the crowd chatter: “Is that John Waters? I don’t think that is John Waters…I thought John Waters was thin with a mustache?”

The announcer assured the crowd they weren’t hallucinating. “Please don’t confuse me with John Waters—I am nowhere near the talent he is, I’m just Marc’s dad.” Apparently, our stand-in host was the father of Marc Ribak of Total Trash Productions who started working with Burger back in 2010. He helps with booking and permits, hiring security, port a potties—all the fun things that make Burger Boogaloo a success. Ribak’s dad may not be as big a talent as Waters, but definitely earned the right to crack corny jokes and be the fill-in MC until the world famous director showed up.

Wounded Lion, an L.A-based art punk band, gave a energetic performance with lots of dancing and tambourine shaking that really got the crowd moving. It was such an enjoyable spectacle that I stayed too long and missed the Baby Shakes play on the Gone Shrimpin’ stage on the other side of the park. Before I knew it, Ribak’s dad was back up to introduce and give a little shit to the next band The Losin’ Streaks. But the Sacramento-bred, 60’s style punk ruffians gave it right back. Thanking him repeatedly for booking them on US festival stage, blaming him for the heat and calling him “Marc’s Dad” throughout their set. It was great but I had to cut it short so I didn’t miss Canadian rockabilly singer Bloodshot Bill. He was banned from entering the U.S from 2006 to 2011 for the crime of crossing the border in Seattle with too many CD’s in the trunk—a real live outlaw. Who knows if I would ever get another chance to see him. Bill belted out his own brand of Rockabilly that like his own brand of pomade, was nice and greasy.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the end of Bill’s set because I had to be in place for one my favorite bands from when I was in high school, Redd Kross. Their set also marked the first appearance of Waters, who greeted the crowd with free packets of anal bleach, reminisced about past Boogaloos, suggested Casey Anthony and OJ host next year, educated young people on pressed hams, red wings and the origin of the Redd Kross name being inspired by a certain scene in the Exorcist. “I always scream ‘Your mother sucks cocks in hell’ when I cum, don’t you?” Waters asked. Following Water’s amazing intro, Redd Kross put on a great show, twin brothers/co-founders of the band Jeff and Steve McDonald were all smiles and sounded great.

Then very quickly Ribak’s dad was back to introduce the next band all the way from Japan, jet rock legends Guitar Wolf fronted by the Kung Fu Ramone himself Seiji (Guitar Wolf). For those who are unfamiliar, everyone in the band’s name is Wolf—U.G. (Bass Wolf); Toru (Drum Wolf). Get it? They started the set wearing Godzilla masks for the first two songs before pulling a fan on stage and to teach him how to play ‘Jet rock style.’ They jumped in and out of the crowd all while putting out a wall of sound that I am sure was heard as far away as Berkeley. They closed with a rendition of “Summertime Blues” that left mouths open and ears ringing.

After a short intermission John Waters appeared just as Iggy’s all star band (Kevin Armstrong on guitar, Seamus Beaghen on keyboards and guitar, Mat Hector on drums and Ben Ellis on bass) took their places behind him. Waters reminded us that Burger Boogaloo had seen a lot of musical giants in the past, but the headliner tonight is by far the biggest. He lived in a trailer, burned his draft card, was the inventor of the stage dive, he had bleached hair first, wore a dog collar before S&M, has been a junkie and sober, a movie star, a disc jockey, an opera and jazz vocalist, and a crooning Maurice Chevalier from the French gutter. “He is an intellectual and a moron,” Waters said. “He is a team player and a gentleman, this man survived drugs the music business, hetrosexulity Susan Tyrrell, Loe Reed and David Bowie, Plain and simple he is God. All you filth balls and trashcans get on your knees and worship our leader, IGGY POP!”

And with that the band launched it to the Stooges classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” the crowd went wild, pressing forward and screaming. Iggy appeared middle fingers in the air darting from one side of the small stage to another like a tiger in a cage. Phones went up, fences fell down, and the park exploded with excitement. Without taking a breath they went straight into “Gimme Danger”. He gave us all the hits. “The Passenger,” “No Fun,” “Repo Man,” “Sick of You,” “T.V. Eye,” “Lust for Life” and even a little taste of Post Pop Depression with “Gardenia.” He jumped into the crowd countless times to the dismay of his stage crew and give us everything an Iggy Pop show should be ending the set with his 80’s hit “Real Wild Child (Wild One).” It was the perfect way to close the first day of the Burger Boogaloo.

I arrived for Day 2 just in time to catch 60’s garage legends NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quintet/Quartet), fronted by founding member Terry Adams. I listened to the set from the Burger tent with Sean who was every excited to have one of his favorite bands play at Burger Boogaloo. After the set, Lee showed up and we all walked to the backstage area to meet Terry. He was very cordial and happy to pose for photos with the Burger Boys.

I expected Day 2 to be a little more mellow than the night before, but as it became closer to 7p.m., the time slotted for X the park filled up again. It seemed every woman in the Bay area was an Exene devotee. After a quick introduction by John Waters in which he pointed out the fact that that most of the punk ladies around the world have been dressing like Exene for about 40 years the band took the stage. They all looked great, including John Doe and Exene in the front, Billy Zoom sitting on a stool just behind them and DJ Bonebrake behind the kit. John Doe announced that they didn’t have much time and were just going to play. As they launched into “Beyond and Back,” the sound was great and everyone in the park seemed to start dancing as X weaved a tapestry of rowdy punk classics— “You’re Phone is off the Hook But You’re Not,” “Los Angeles,” “We’re Desperate”, even “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline.” During the drum solo for “Hungry like the Wolf,” it felt very surreal as an ocean of bodies pushed up and then swallowed crowd surfers in rhythm. As the band closed with “Soul Kitchen” I thought to myself “Well that was great, how is anyone going to follow that?”

John Waters came back to announce the next and final act of the Burger Boogaloo. Britains own favorite sons The Buzzcocks. The sun was almost down and this was the last chance to get your Boogaloo on. The fans wanted and needed something great and they got it right out of the gate the band belted out their 70s punk anthem “Boredom.” The crowd loved it. I kind of forgot how many great songs The Buzzcocks wrote but they remind me by playing them all. “Fast Cars,” “Orgasm Addict,” “Soul Survivor,” and “What Do I Get” all brought a surge of energy to the crowd. They closed with with their biggest hit “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t).” It was the perfect way to end the weekend and also insured that I’ll definitely be Boogalooing back in Oakland again soon. I can’t wait to see who is on the bill next year.

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