There is a curious, paradoxical allure to the Music Festival. At once, it typically involves a collection of top-shelf talent; artists and musicians who have crafted masterpieces or merely tapped into the current zeitgeist, both of which garner unbounded excitement and endless social media galavanting. And yet that talent is pigeonholed, required to present itself in 30 minute samples to a crowd whose majority push towards the pit merely just to get a selfie worth boasting over. The festival itself is a bizarre microcosm of human society; the pleasures and necessities in life degraded in quality but inflated in cost. The facilities are similar in form but deplorable in condition and skeptically full of half-eaten food and the stray abandoned cell phone; a sacrifice made for the hands that couldn’t keep it in their pocket for one isolated moment. Just thinking about all of this makes the bile in stomach retch to my throat. Why the fuck do we go to these things?
If there is any answer to be found, part of it may lie in California’s Burgerama. Humbly DIY in vibe and surprisingly easy to navigate, the festival rose above the suffocation of sponsored cocktails and the ambling of fashion photography to create an atmosphere that felt somewhat communal, which for any event featuring two days of over fifty bands, is a staggering achievement. The price of booze was still set just beyond the stratosphere and there were still those who tried endlessly to strike a pose (to the white dude with the sleeveless shirt that just said “RAP” in Helvetica, I’m looking at you) but it was minor compared to the young weirdos who doled out a lump sum to be inspired by the closest thing to rock and roll idols in this generation of immediate consumption. The roster turned out some of the freshman class in the now burgeoning iteration of garage rock, less concerned with hype maintenance and more dedicated to the management of a lifestyle and its accompanying ideals. This showed in the energy of the crowd, as pits erupted in considerate, organized chaos. It was there in the rapt attention given to artists by ones who are just starting to pick up instruments themselves. A few years from now, they’ll be in front of similar crowds and, much like festival stand outs Twin Peaks those gawking fresh faces might get there even sooner than that.
Here is a rundown of day one’s stand out performances.
Corners started with a visceral clash and rattle. With tight and locked-in grooves, their performance was focused and pointed. There energy was alluringly contained, even as their songs built up to tension steeped climax. They’re a band more reserved for the pale moonlight, but in the darkness of The Observatory’s theater, it was almost enough to convince oneself that they were dancing in the moonlight.
Taking to the outside stage and starting appropriately opposite to Corners, Mystic Braves music was all sunlight, vibrating bodies and Echo Park adoration. The guys are married to their Laurel Canyon hippy aesthetic, and even though their rich sound didn’t quite transfer well live, they were the first of much Lolipop Records love over the weekend.
La Luz have been touring constantly the last two years and if you have managed to miss them at every avenue, you’re a person that makes indisputably poor decisions. They are consistently one of the best sounding live bands and their appearance at Burgerama was another example of their perfect mixture of virtuosity and penchant for fucking fun. The crowd was in the palm of their hands, some with eyes locked on their aerobic instrument work and others who did the twist until they were drenched.
You’d be hard pressed to find a crowd more unanimously stoked on day one than at together PANGEA. Some of that is owed to their LA residency, but with a charismatic stage presence to back up their chops, the three piece made the large outside stage feel like a house show, right down to the audience members with their arms interlocked, drunkenly bellowing the lyrics to “Badillac.” Bonus props to Dennis Bengston‘s possibly unintentional Garth costume.
Cherry Glazerr‘s at times saccharine sound was a well earned palate cleanser for a mid day Burgerama crowd. The audience and band shared mutual happiness for being in attendance and they helped continue a much deserved tendency for crowd surfing.
Photography and documentation, admittedly at this point, gets a little hazy. Gang of Four was a little awkward for everyone in attendance. It’s hard to recapture a sound that has already become antiquated in terms of punk music, so it was akin to watching your uncle play at the town pub. Roky Erikson is a crazy and wonderful man, you should support all of him. Weezer, unsurprisingly to everyone, was a crowd mess. What do you get when you mix 10 hours of beer and 80 degree weather plus “Say It Ain’t So?” The answer is the most disorganized circle pit you’ll ever behold, with beer cups and tattered shirts flying through the air like so much detritus. Even “Island” lead to some people getting unwittingly tackled by an unruly fan. With that, day one ended, leaving us to retreat to hotel rooms simply to chug further, some to come up with next great riff, or most to simply regain energy for day two. You’ll find coverage for that tomorrow.