PLAYING THE BAY: 10 Years On, Burger Boogaloo 2019 Must Reconsider Its Relationship With The City It Loves

burger boogaloo 2019 review
burger boogaloo 2019 review
all photos by Sophia Vaccaro


Walking up to the MacArthur entrance of the 10th annual Burger Boogaloo festival was akin to walking under the big top of a circus tent, the everyday machinations of Mosswood Park suddenly swathed by a curtain of pounding drums as children twisted on swing sets, their caretakers snoozing on the roots of trees. 

Festivals traditionally like to posit themselves as destination activities — off in the desert, hidden in the woods. But part of Burger Boogaloo’s appeal — and part of its enduring problems — is that its festival grounds perch directly in a city park, fences flung from end to end like the claws of a sun-drunk bird. 

In fact, Burger Boogaloo’s grounds were drastically altered this year to try to avoid displacing the park’s extensive homeless population, a welcome move for coexistence that is still not without its limitations and inherent contradictions. Walking past the still-busy park playground as a stream of Betty-banged women in leopard print dresses exited from the festival grounds seemed symbolic of Burger Boogaloo’s precarious position: how do you host a large-scale music event that does not create an adverse effect on the surrounding community? While many festivals grapple with their environmental impact, Burger Boogaloo has to also consider the interweaving personal and political complexities of “taking over” a swath of public land for a fenced, ticketed event.

After I arrived, I stopped off at the booth of Punks with Lunch, a nonprofit organization that provides harm-reduction resources like needle kits and hygiene packs to marginalized communities in West Oakland and beyond. The two volunteers working the booth told me that Burger Boogaloo had explicitly contacted them for advice on how to work with the homeless population. In the past, they said, the city would do “cleanups” of the park in advance of the festival, essentially a nice way of saying they would throw away all the homeless residents’ possessions, displacing a community that is also one of the few sources of consistency in its residents’ lives. No one, as far as they knew, had been displaced this year, but they were waiting for more information. I thanked them and moved towards the beer tents, standing on my tiptoes to try and spot those tell-tale domes of blue tarp that would mark the still-standing encampment. I was too far away, so I sat under the shade of a solitary tree and scanned the grounds, ready for some people watching in advance of the next set.

Bettie bangs abounded across festival grounds, and I was texting my friends to make a joke about it when I saw the booth sign: FREE BANGS, it read. I put the phone away. Why make a joke when everyone knows the punchline?

burger boogaloo 2019 review

There is a flippant sense of self-awareness to Burger Boogaloo, a sort of self-effacing chuckle that seems to permeate the back end of the grounds where festival-goers fling themselves down in the grass, sweating through black clothes, fingers oily from pint-size tacos. While the crowd is fairly diverse, especially terms of age, the booths sit firmly in Punk Summer Camp; Punks with Lunch was joined by Amoeba Records, 942 Gilman, and a variety of clothing shops and small record labels with chunky paper-mache signs and vinyl records stacked inside plastic postal service boxes, tents ringing the grounds like a goth tiara.

“You have to cut your own hair, or its not choppy enough,” the woman lighting a joint next to me said. Me and my expensive haircut read this as my cue to venture to the stage.

The first performance I saw was Phantom Surfers, a five-piece band from San Francisco who play largely instrumental covers with a (you guessed it) surf-rock bent. They performed in spangled pink blazers and weirdly petite black eye masks, a combination that was particularly, delightfully strange on their main singer, who also had what I believe to be a very real silver-haired bob. The audience, while slightly befuddled, very much enjoyed it, including the two adolescent boys who stood in front of me for a few songs, one wearing an actual industrial chain as a necklace, snipped short to fall past his collarbone.

Next up was San Francisco punk band The Dwarves. “I’d love to see their penises, and you will too,” host John Waters said (warned us menacingly?) during his introduction. A long-time transgressive filmmaker and comedian, Waters’ unconventional intros were much loved by the audience, though I wish he had stuck around to provide more active commentary after each set. He ended his bit with a request: “Put your grimy little paws together and give a hideous welcome to The Dwarves.” The audience gladly obliged, and thus began my favorite performance of my time at the Boogaloo.

It was, a bit, like what I imagined Warped Tour would have been like in the realms of my adolescent rose-colored dreams. Because of the diverse audience, the pit was sparse but spirited, with people in their teens to fifties dancing like mad, their bodies flung along the rapids of the pit’s golden spiral. It was a welcome reminder; while I may feel like I have reached the apex of my music taste, watching the woman in front of me in her early forties contain the edges of the pit with good-natured shoves reminded me how relatively brief my relationship with punk music has been — and how much I have yet to learn.

“This is the best festival in the fuckin’ world ya’ll bitches!” cried The Dwarves frontman, Blag Dahlia. This was pretty standard-issue for the whole set, and for the most part, I didn’t mind. But like I mentioned in last week’s article about Kevin Nichols, hearing old-fashioned punk sentiments as delivered to a new audience can be off-putting. I felt it most when Dahlia declared “I think we need some sluts!” to welcome a few of the festival’s on-call dancers, one of whom had appeared with the Phantom Surfers as a sexy cavewoman. This is where things always get tricky for me. Offensive, inflammatory, and just downright backwards lyrics and behavior from punk bands was pretty standard during its heyday, but the actual reasoning behind those choices was wildly variable — satire at best, genuine belief at worst, and monkey-see, monkey-do bullshitting in the middle. It can be difficult to ascertain, as a fan, where a band lies on this scale. Plus, as a woman, it can just be exhausting. Someone can tell you, time and time again, that it’s satire, poking fun at people who “really” think like this, but sometimes it just doesn’t matter — words with damaging, misogynistic connotations delivered with glib glee by older white men are sometimes just that: damaging.

burger boogaloo 2019 review

But sometimes, it’s just not worth it to be offended. During “The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever,” I strode away from the stage during the chorus: let’s just get high and fuck some sluts! But here’s what happened when I went home later and looked up the bands I saw: I found myself cackling at the studio version of the song, which begins with a disconcerting after-school special sing-song: to save the ozone and the earth/and all the creatures, sand and surf/the world is full of things to do/and yet it always comes back to—

Am I interpreting the song correctly? God, I have no idea. But I’ll take it.

Next up was The Dead Boys, a Cleveland band that had its heyday in the ’70s before reforming in 2017. I didn’t watch directly for much of this set, instead choosing to meander through one of the VIP sections, where I caught a side view of vocalist Jake Hout (replacing original frontman Stiv Bators, who passed away in 1990) getting lifted up by the crowd by his feet and ankles. Astride a sea of bent wrists, he delivered a few verses with remarkable balance, his black-rimmed eyes tipped to the sky, a punk-rock Cleopatra.

Rounding out the festival was two-night headliners The Jesus and Mary Chain, a Scottish rock band formed in 1983. With the sun disappearing fast, the upgraded stage and light effects made quite the impression on the small festival grounds, with smoke pouring into the sky like a rock n’ roll bonfire. Leaving the last few songs for the fans, young and old, who bounced on their heels, singing along in the dark to brothers Jim and William Reed, I followed the small trickle of deserters back to MacArthur Boulevard.

Outside the gates, a man sold Street Spirits. I bought one — the International Issue. “How do you feel about the festival?” I asked him.

“The coordinators are full of shit,” he said. “They displaced us.” He pointed past me to the area of the park on the opposite side from where the untouched tents still resided, telling me they had made him move. So Burger Boogaloo has not quite reached perfect harmony with the residents of its favored festival grounds. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s possible —  you can’t expect marginalized people to consider, year-round, the convenience of one forty-eight hour event. The only solution is more work — more education, more negotiation, more adjustment — or finding a different venue altogether.

While Burger Records is a SoCal label, this festival’s decades long connection with the Bay Area is something to be celebrated — there is a reason it started here, and a reason it wanted to stay. I saw that, easily, in the crowd — two kids dozing between sets, an open book sliding down one of their laps; a woman with a gray beehive hairdo herding her grandchildren for a photo; a lithe dancer in the pit ending a song on a deep backbend, her afro bobbing as her hand cupped the sky. But the homeless are the Bay Area, too, and there is more than can, and should, be done to watch out for them.

INTERVIEW: Death Hags Reconnects With Her Untamed Self

Death Hags is the solo project of French singer-songwriter and L.A. Musician Lola G, who last month released her first single “Metal Teeth.” It’s about “women reclaiming their freedom to be angry, strange, loud and dangerous,” and it’ll appear on Death Hags’ debut LP, slated for release via Burger Records this spring. She’ll also be heading to SXSW in March. We talked to her about her dream musical gear, the production process & her personal transformation through solo touring and living in the woods.

AF: I really like when artists create new genre names. I saw on Souncloud you tagged #doompop. Can you describe what doom pop and/or post-industrial is? How else would you describe the sound of your new record?

LG: It’s always hard to describe your own music, so when people started asking me what this new project sounded like, I would say it was “pop songs about the end of the world.” That was the best description I could come up with. I shortened it to “doom pop” because I love writing dark and doom-y bass lines but my pop sensibility won’t go away. I’m a fan of early industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle so hopefully there is a little bit of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][post-industrial] somewhere in Death Hags.

AF: How and where did you record “Metal Teeth”? What is your songwriting process like? What kind of gear do you use? What is your dream piece of gear you’d love to use for future recordings or live shows? What’s your favorite aspect of the writing and recording process? 

LG: I recorded “Metal Teeth” in LA during a session I did with my band DTCV. I played everything except drums. A few months later I ended up scrapping the whole album except for “Metal Teeth.” It’s the only song that felt right. That was pretty much the beginning of Death Hags.

To me the most exciting part in the songwriting process is the initial creative spark. Lyrics or a melody I hear in my head, or a whole song. Recording is more of a mystery. You never know how things are going to turn out. I’ve had some amazing recording moments in places that were basically crappy warehouses and completely empty sessions in professional studios. There’s something elusive about recording and I’ve learned to respect that.

For gear, I have a modified 1980s Electra guitar and a 1970s Univox bass, although I tend to record with whatever Fender P bass they have in the studio. I recently got a Microbrute analog synth that I am in love with. And of course, lots of pedals!

I don’t think I have a dream piece of gear. If I could buy anything I wanted right now, I would probably buy a bunch of synths and get a crazy custom-made pedal from Death by Audio.

AF: Tell us about the personal transformation you’ve gone through with Metal Teeth. What do you want people to take away from listening to the new record? 

LG: I spent a lot of time alone in Nature last year and had some intense spiritual experiences foraging in the forest. It pushed me to tour by myself, which is probably the most transformative thing I’ve ever done. Metal Teeth reflects this need to reconnect with the untamed, with the strength and self-reliance that come from really knowing yourself. I’ve only begun the journey so I don’t know where it’s going to take me. Maybe ask me again next year?

As far as this record, if it could give people goose bumps when they listen to it, I would be very happy.

Look out for Death Hags @ SXSW:

3/14 Nochebuena in Space @ Stay Gold
3/16 Cigar City Management Showcase @ Lamberts Downtown Barbeque
3/17 Onward Indian Electric Garden Party @ Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
3/17-18 Burgermania VII @ Hotel Vegas[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Cotillon “Alex’s Room”

Starting off with distorted guitar and indistinguishable background conversation, Cotillon’s latest single “Alex’s Room” sets listeners up for relaxation and nostalgia with this chill, fuzzy garage rock tune. It also may have listeners wondering, who is Alex, and why is anyone in his room?

The song is restless from the first line, as frontman Jordan Corso sings about a loss of inspiration and distraction from his passions, and it remains as such throughout its short two and a half minute span. It’s a soundtrack that channels frustrated youth sick of explaining their choices to their parents as they deal with hitting dead ends on the path to finding themselves and following their dreams. Like a teenager waiting around for a friend to rescue them from boredom, Corso waits listlessly for Alex, lost in ennui and taking stock of his wasted life as time slips away.

Similarly, we’ll be waiting impatiently for Cotillon’s upcoming sophomore album The Afternoons, out via Burger Records April 21st. Corso recently relocated from the West Coast to New York City and considers The Afternoons to be his “New York” album, pulling inspiration from living in a small New York City apartment and the romances, ups, downs, and in betweens he weathered in that time.

Listen to “Alex’s Room” below.

ALBUM REVIEW: Summer Twins “Limbo”


There are few things better than pop music that uses a bright, upbeat exterior to hide a deeper, darker message, and that’s exactly what the Riverside, CA based sisters Summer Twins have created with Limbo. Consider the album name, for starters. As well as being a fun party game, limbo also has the creepy definition of “an abode of souls that are, according to Roman Catholic theology, barred from heaven.” When used more casually, it can also mean being stuck between two places, which makes sense since the band’s sound is stuck between a blend of decades-old doo-wop and soul, more modern psychedelic rock and current pop.

Their songs are full of fuzzy, well-crafted guitar hooks, electric organ, and the back-and-forth vocals of sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown. Each one is a variation on an old-school genre: There’s “Our World,” which has a “slow dancing at a 1950’s prom” kind of vibe, the Bo Diddley-esque guitar rhythms of “Fire,” and the soulful guitar lines on “JuJu.”

While songs like “Florence” and “Dreamin” seem to be straightforwardly nostalgic and inspirational, Limbo gets off to a less cheerful start with “Blinds.” The verses of the song are sparse, aggressively punctuated by staccato guitar as they sing about an anxiety that drives them indoors: “I run into things that I don’t want to see and my feet keep on tripping/I hear whispering, they keep calling my name, but I don’t want to hear anything.” “Demons” may seem like an inspirational song about achieving happiness by overcoming your fears, but in its delivery, the message comes across more like a warning: “When the demons creep on up, you have got to shut them up/They will eat you up inside, you won’t make it out alive.” And, the upbeat, pop-rock song “Love Within” advises listeners to keep their true feelings hidden to the point of not letting the object of their affection reach them easily by phone, see them cry, and even not eat when they’re starving.

But don’t be scared that Limbo will leave you down. Despite throwing in some dark lyrics, the Summer Twins haven’t created a depressing album, they’ve just put a quirky, refreshing spin on topics related to life and love. And also, Ouija boards.

Limbo will be available via Burger Records on October 2nd. You can stream the album here. For instance gratification, check out some of their earlier work below. 

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BURGERAMA 4: The Femme’s List of Who to See


For those of you not too familiar with the DIY whirlwind that is Burger Records, it is a Fullerton, California-based independent record label founded back in 2007 by Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard. Burger is most well known for taking the off kilter route of releasing most of their material on cassette. This year marks their fourth year hosting the Burgerama music festival, which this year seemingly has their most impressive lineup yet. Held at the Santa Ana Observatory, it is quickly approaching on the weekend of March 28th and 29th. Other than the duh-worthy ripping main acts, here’s a list of bands us West Coast femmes are stoked to see.



For a band that was supposedly formed as a joke, their record certainly doesn’t sound like one. Froth emulates a well done version of the garage, surf, psych, and drone-sounding rock that is consuming the Southern California music scene right now. They definitely throw a little twist in their sound, though, with the use of an omnichord. Here’s a new track Burger uploaded on their Soundcloud a month ago titled, “Postcard Radio.”


Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel

These Los Angeles-based, wacky psychedelic dudes, sound exactly like what you’d think a band playing a similar festival set in the Sixties would sound like. We are so okay with that. Here’s them performing, “When the Morning Greets You With A Smile” for the video series Jam In The Van from last year’s Burgerama.


The Coathangers

The always badass Atlanta-based trio, The Coathangers, are a longtime AudioFemme favorite (they headlined one of our showcases last year). Yes we’re biased, but with good reason. From their 2009 full length, Scramble, to their recently released cover of The Gun Club’s “Sex Beat,” their set is bound to be seamlessly chock full of dance-y punk hits.


White Fence

Tim Presley is the blast-from-the-past prolific psych band that is White Fence. With almost all of his past releases recorded in his home, Presley helps to emulate what Burger Records seemingly stands for. Here’s a stream of his most recent album titled, For The Recently Found Innocent. Smoke a bowl and enjoy.



Fronted by Chad Ubovich, guitarist of Mikal Cronin as well as the bassist for Fuzz, Meatbodies is a guitar heavy Jay Reatard lovers dream band. With their first album just released in October, this band’s buzz is about to explode. Highly suggested set to see for all of your head banging pleasures. Here’s a live video of them performing “Mountain” on KEXP Radio.



Jeff The Brotherhood

The always killer Jeff The Brotherhood, who recently announced being dropped by Warner Brothers Records, are releasing their new album (coming out just a few days before the festival) on Infinity Cat Recordings. With all of the excitement of a new start for the band as well as a new album, their set that weekend will not be one to miss. Here’s their new track featuring Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on flute titled “Black Cherry Pie.”


La Luz

La Luz is a Seattle-based surf rock band. These girls’ mellow beach vibe is danceable and to blatantly put it, fun. La Luz, which translates to “light” in Spanish, perfectly emulates their vibe during live performances. This is their beautifully hazy video for their most popular track, titled”Call Me in the Day.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Tomorrows Tulips “When”

Tomorrows Tulips Burget Records

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Tomorrows Tulips Burget Records
photo by Taylor Bonin

Tomorrows Tulips was born from the ashes of front man/pro-surfer Alex Knost’s previous venture, Japanese Motors, and a fortuitous experiment with his girlfriend at the time, Christina Kee. The twosome embarked on a musical union inspired by Kee’s fledgling foray into drumming, and by the next day, the group had the seeds of several songs. Following the pair’s only release, Knost was joined by Ford Archbold (bass, vocals) and Jamie Dutcher (drums) to create 2013’s Experimental Jelly and now, When – both on Burger Records.

Much exploratory elbow grease has gone into crafting the sound of this curious collaboration that prides itself on a “shambolic” approach. With every rendering, the group has fallen more fully into a chaotic, DIY sound that is completely their own. Originally motivated by 1960s rock & roll, Knost took refuge in the genre’s penchant for guts and creativity over technical ability. With When, their wave-riding nature has paid off, and a commitment to process has fed their efforts in creating a sound which embraces emotional transparency.

An acoustic, lo-fi wash and ear-catching chord progression serve as the canvass for “Surplus Store.” The track paints its subject vividly: “He pulls his tricks out of three-quarter sleeves / And combs his hair like the 90s / Hides a shoebox full of his broken dreams / A dirtbag revolution airing out in the seams.” On the bridge, Knost demonstrates his guitar chops, jamming on a solo that peals with rich, elastic groove.

Resounding with achy rumbles and feedback on the edge, When‘s title track stops and starts in husky contemplation. Haunting and dreamy, “When” captures what Tomorrows Tulips does best. The grainy, amped guitar line runs alongside the heavy echo of Archbold’s bass, eventually fading out and giving way to “Favorite Episode,” a mostly instrumental, experiential journey that rises and falls with reincarnations of a single, entrancing theme. Grunge-rattled growler “Glued to You” picks things back up, marked by breathy vocals and the perpetual pulse of the bass. The deep, uneasy grind of the guitar burrows into the darkly melodic refrain that chants, “Stay glued to you,” tapering off into ethereal, reverb-soaked oohs.

The appropriately-named conclusion of the record, “Clear,” closes the album with melodic reflection. Meditative and uplifting, it flows forth gently with tumbling riffs, steady strumming, and whimsical flits of flute, triangle, and strings. Both the vocals and lead guitar carry the melody line through, lulling the listener with the simplicity of a doubly-delivered refrain.

Mellow, lo-fi, and California-infused, it’s no wonder Tomorrows Tulips has culled such descriptions as “loser rock” and “bummer pop,” yet the band’s heart is anything but lackadaisical. Knost has been quoted saying that his ultimate muse is isolation in a world “masked by media, fashions, trends, and technology.” With When, Tomorrows Tulips has ventured their farthest yet, daring to put expression first on a mission to transcend vapid means of existence and reveal an inner life marked by authenticity.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

ALBUM REVIEW: The Pharmacy “Spells”

The Pharmacy

The Pharmacy

Keeping the Old Flame/Burger Records ethos of bratty, summer-loving bliss alive, The Pharmacy times the release of their brand new album to perfectly coincide with the wind down of the dog days of summer. Aptly titled Spells, it’s a hypnotic, psych-tinged journey through an untamed, kaleidoscopic wilderness. Filled with campfire-ready jams constructed from sludgy strumming and hazy vocals, the entire album oozes a relaxed, chilled out sensibility perfect for any summer afternoon soaked in bud (light).

From start to finish, it’s a sun-drenched sabbatical that screams zero responsibilities and even fewer reservations. Exclusively filled by short, sweet tunes, Spells is ideal easy-listening for any reverb-loving appetite. It’s the kind of music that the descriptor “garage-y” was coined for. Disheveled, disorganized and brief enough to keep ahold of the even the shortest of attention spans, it’s a fun exercise in 70s fuzz rock nostalgia, though one that admittedly suffers a bit through extensive aesthetic adherence.

Take the album’s first single, “Masten Lake Lagoon,” which starts off with cooing harmonics that 180 into rollicky, hair-tousling riffs within the span of seconds. Turning into something akin to your friend’s noodly, improvised set, it’s intentionally disjointed and somewhat frazzled in its direction.

But the surprises end there. It’s obvious that The Pharmacy shy away from any notion of overarching concept, as there is no driving narrative force behind their collection of anthems loosely united by themes of fleeting summer romance and drugged out dalliances. Yet at the same time, they don’t even have that excuse to defend themselves against accusations that all their songs are very short and adhere to a similar sound. It’s a carefully curated style and they’re good at keeping it consistent, which depending on how you look at it, could be a good or bad thing.

Because while short, sweet and rascally are all great buzzword ingredients for stoned summer bliss, there’s something about the album that leaves you wanting more. Yes, there is stylistic variety in the form of tunes like the swingy “Cool and Calm,” the sweet “Anna Bella” or the wallowy “Strange,” but it’s more like you gave the drummer another Valium rather than any notion of real musical innovation. Because while it’s a fun, amicable and a grab-bag of other positive, peace n’ love-related sentiments, by the closing track you’re just itching for something that isn’t another 3 minute long fuzz-infused, drawl-heavy sleeper.

But then again, the young, dumb and drugged thing is a conscious aesthetic choice. And while it’s a shtick that doesn’t work for everyone, this hint of scuzzy stoner love is fitting for days where you’re bored at mom’s and the AC is broken. It’s the kind of sound that there’s a definitive time and place for, as it’s the kind of music that convinces DIY-lovers and high school guitarists that the jam ethos is still alive and that any dude with a drum machine and tambourine can partially record a tape in the back of his dad’s Winnebago.

Distinctly West Coast and imbued with a blatant devil-may-care attitude, it’s a record infused with a pure, naive sort of idea of fun. And while the picky ones may yearn for a bit more variety, The Pharmacy should still be content with the fact that they produced an album that will loop in the background of many PBR-fueled parties this summer.

LIVE REVIEW: Lolipalooza @ The Echoplex (Echo Park, CA)

After opening a Los Angeles storefront for their mostly cassette-based label last summer, the founders of Lolipop Records clearly wanted to go big in terms of celebrating its birthday. Thus, the first-ever Lolipalooza took over the Echoplex last weekend, flooding the popular venue with stylish music junkies whose passion for dream pop, surf rock, and seventies psych throwbacks clearly matched the label’s own. The all day festival featured over thirty bands, including acts from like-minded labels Burger Records and Pizza Party Music. There were three different stages – one upstairs, one downstairs, and one on the Echo outdoor patio. With the constant stream of live music happening, it was nearly impossible to review each and every wonderful band, but there were some definite standouts.

So Many Wizards, a local four piece with a strange ability to meld surf and shoegaze, played on the dynamic of break-neck cymbal crashes and mellow, jangly guitar, the changes of rhythm within songs adding an overall complexity to their poppy song structure. Of the lyrics I was able to catch, I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase “being fucked by love;” even if it was just my imagination it’s a great summary of their general sound. Wandering to the next stage, I caught a set by Corners, whose surf-tinged synth pop had a dirtier and crunchier spin. Fans from the crowd joined them on stage, shimmying like go-go dancers around the band. Out on the Echo Patio, I was introduced to Adult Books, a lo-fi punk outfit featuring Daniel Quintanilla, one of Lolipop’s founders. Their fast-paced set, which was fed by their exquisite sense of interesting rhythm, got the pizza eating, cat-shirt wearing crowd very riled up. People were crowd surfing and hanging off the poles meant to keep the outdoor tent standing.

One of my personal favorites of the day was  Santa Barbara-based band called Dante Elephante. As a huge fan of 2012 release German Aquatics, I was elated to hear them play sunny, easy-going surf jams like “All the Time,” as well as the record’s title track. Krunch, Rube, Chips, and Johnny, as their names might imply, are pretty laid-back dudes, but they’re also wildly talented musicians with clever and sharp songwriting skills that made for a moving set built upon instantly catchy and hummable guitar licks and lively drums.

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Dante Elephante
Dante Elephante

I made sure to be in the very front row at the outdoor patio for Santoros – I’d been friendly with them ever since my band played a house show with them in Santa Cruz. Santoros has no fewer than seven members and has been gaining fans and notoriety at a rapid pace amongst both Burger and Lolipop Record fans. During conversations with the band members, they’ve mentioned that bands like Shannon and the Clams (who were slated to play later that evening) and The Growlers have influenced them greatly. Their set created a hyperactive energy that rippled through the crowd, causing the packed house to jump, twist, and shake. For their encore song they performed their classic jam “She Doesn’t Love Me Anymore” from 2012 release Ancestros, announcing that a new album is currently underway.

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As the sun started to set, another Lolipop Record favorite, Froth, played a killer set. Consisting of four members, Froth’s sound is an attractive combination of grunge-rock and lo-fi garage surf music with a hint of sixties pop thrown into the mix. The smooth and deep voice of singer JooJoo Ashworth is a perfect contrast to the gritty, yet crisp sound of the guitar. Although their usual omnichord player Jeff Fribourg was “modeling in Paris” (according to Ashworth) JooJoo’s sister took over and rocked all of his parts. Following Froth were audience favorites Shannon and the Clams, and the special “secret” guest of the evening, Thee Oh Sees. Both bands unsurprisingly delivered incredible, rollicking performances that ended the already stellar evening on an ever higher note. With labels like Lolipop cementing themselves as quirky tastemakers, here’s hoping they’ve got more successful years (and Lolipaloozas!) ahead of them.

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LIVE REVIEW: The Muffs @ Del Monte Speakeasy, Venice CA

The Muffs reunion


These days, it seems no one is impervious to nineties nostalgia, least of all Burger Records, who release Whoop Dee Doo on July 29th, the first album of new material from grunge-pop aficionados The Muffs in ten years. The three-piece, consisting of lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Kim Shattuck, bassist Ronnie Barnett, and drummer Criss Crass, is scheduled for several West Coast Burger-sponsored bashes, including this past weekend’s Burger Beach Party USA at the Del Monte Speakeasy located in the heart of Venice.

Arriving a bit late for sets from labelmates Audacity, The Tyde, The Aquadolls, and Collen Green, my peers and I descended into the dimly lit bar decorated with twenties style lamps and red leather couches. The crowd consisted of people of all different ages, sporting every style from summertime surf grunge to bohemian fifty-year old mom swag. Once The Muffs took the stage it became clear that they’re touring veterans; you could tell immediately that they have been performing together for years. Perhaps best known for having had their cover of “Kids In America” (originally by Kim Wilde) featured in one of my most favorite movies, Clueless, the band has gone through numerous lineups and released five records via Warner Bros. and Reprise Records, but have always retained a bouncy, feel-good vibe.

Kim had a huge smile on her face the whole show, aggressively singing upbeat surfer rock songs to a crowd of moshing admirers. Their new material, much in the vein of their early catalogue, is comprised of perfect riffs made with power chords we all know and love, hard hitting bass lines, and drum beats that make for some truly inspired head-banging. Though The Muffs’ set was about 45 minutes long, it felt like only fifteen minutes in which both the band and their audience had a blast. Kim’s banter in between songs consisted of making fart jokes and recalling times on past tours where she “made out with a lot of girls.” Their onstage presence perfectly accompanied their clever, humorous, and emotion- driven songs, which made for an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying show. There’s no word yet on whether a national tour will happen, but The Muffs are playing a few more Burger shindigs, listed below. In the meantime, check out lead single from Whoop Dee Doo, “Up And Down Around.”


Sunday, July 6 – Oakland, CA @ Burger Boogaloo (Mosswood Park)

Saturday, July 26 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Saturday, Aug. 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ Burger a-Go-Go (The Observatory)


ALBUM REVIEW: “Shine Your Light”

GapDream_AlbumArtGabe Fulvimar emerged on the scene last year under musical moniker Gap Dream with his eponymous debut, a psych-y, garage-y record that immediately hooked critics and listeners alike. Now he’s returning with his sophomore release, Shine Your Light, produced by Bobby Harlow in conjunction with Fulvimar himself. The ten-track album, available via Fullerton, California’s Burger Records, sees Gap Dream taking a turn with his sound—he’s developed his fuzzy pop-rock into a synth-heavy dance extravaganza.

The album opener and title track, “Shine Your Light,” is immediately futuristic. The sonically shimmery and twinkling backdrop is a stark contrast from Fulvimar’s drowsy vocals; the whole album, in fact, is a give and take between groovy and lackadaisical. “Chill Spot,” for example, the second track on the album, has a particularly swanky beat and bass line, but Fulvimar’s West Coast-y drawl and stoner lyrics (“I’m trying to find a chill spot just to organize my mind”) keep it down to earth.

While many of the lyrics on the record could come off as trite, flower child commandments (“Allow your heart to chase the dark away” from “Shine Your Light,” or “Please shine your love/Like the rays of the sun/Through the clouds above” from “Shine Your Love”), there are a few very notable exceptions. “Immediate Life Sentence,” for example, is a scathing commentary about a really shitty girlfriend. It concludes with Fulvimar’s assertion that “I don’t need to get laid that bad/I’ll just stay home and get high.” I mean, damn, that’s cold, but also extremely relatable.  On “Love Is Not Allowed” Fulvimar seems to reconcile the two points of view, seeming wistful about his inability to access intimacy in a world where there’s just no place for it, urging us to save it for another time.  The beats almost approach those of dreamy teen pop anthems from the fifties, wrapped up tight in swirling layers of synths.

Other highlights include “Snow Your Mind,” and the second to last track, “You’re From The Shadow.” The former is sultry but contemplative, a bit reminiscent of Blood Orange’s aesthetic. The latter, on the other hand, has a significantly heavier, more commanding sound than the rest of the album that might be a little leftover inspiration from Fulvimar’s days as a member of the Black Keys.

But perhaps the most telling track regarding Fulvimar’s evolution as a performer is the album’s lead single, “Fantastic Sam”.  Sonically, it’s an obvious choice to re-introduce Gap Dream to the world, with catchy hand-clap percussion, an insistent guitar riff, and wriggling synths.  But the lyrics are almost meta: “Do you know how to think, how to feel? / When you open your eyes, do I seem real?”  When sung by a man whose image borders on retro caricature, it begs the listener to examine what it means to embrace Gap Dream’s aesthetic, daring everyone to prove that they get it or admit that they don’t.

As a whole, Shine Your Light is the musical equivalent of getting abducted by pothead aliens who end up sharing their intergalactic weed with you (or the video game equivalent of such an adventure) . There are obvious psych-rock influences (most strikingly in “Shine Your Love,” a regal sounding number that brings The Kinks or The Beatles to mind), and Fulvimar clearly has some potent guitar hooks up his sleeve that inevitably get your head bobbing.  It’s a bit unfortunate that we don’t hear as much of them as we did on on Gap Dream’s debut.  Fulvimar’s effortlessly catchy melodies are still in effect, but there are too many moments where they become obscured over the course of Shine Your Light’s ten tracks.  Even if Fulvimar strays far from his familiar strengths as he explores new ones, his effort to change directions is a noble one.

For more of Gabe’s personal musings, check out his interview with audiofemme here

The album comes out 11/26 on Burger. If you can’t wait until then, listen to “Love Is Not Allowed”, here via Soundcloud:

INTERVIEW: Sean Bohrman of Burger Records

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Lee Rickard, left, and Sean Bohrman, right, founders of Burger Records
Lee Rickard, left, and Sean Bohrman, right, founders of Burger Records

In a little less than six years, Lee Rickard and Sean Bohrman of Burger Records have built an accidental empire.  What began as a way to release records for their band Thee Makeout Party and their friends’ bands (Audacity, for instance) quickly morphed into one of the more prolific purveyors of cassettes tapes during a reawakening of cassette culture.  It was not just that they were releasing tapes, it was the sheer volume of tapes they released.  And quality was never spared for quantity; Rickard’s and Bohrman’s impeccably curated catalogue quickly earned them a reputation as taste-makers and made Burger a bellwether in terms of what bands to watch, particularly in punk, lo-fi DIY recordings, garage rock, and slightly left-of-center pop performers.  There are plenty of acts on Burger’s roster who can’t be so easily classified, but there’s an overarching aesthetic here, infused with  a carefree, West Coast, sometimes vintage vibe.

A few weeks ago, Rickard set out with a stable of Burger’s most buzzed-about acts (including Cosmonauts, The Growlers, Habibi, Colleen Green and Gap Dream) for Burger’s second “Caravan of Stars” tour.  While Rickard is away, Bohrman is running the record store in Fullerton, California – also mailorder headquarters – with a very diminished staff.  When we first called for an interview there was a pressing matter in the warehouse he had to attend to, insisting that he “take care of it himself”.  Though Bohrman was slightly more relaxed when we called back, he never stopped working, even during our interview – he went right on buying someone’s collection of Japanese hardcore records.

It’s that kind of work ethic that’s often glossed over when the label is discussed; the pair are oft represented as stoned goof-offs who like poop jokes and bubblegum pop and started Burger to bring the two together.  “It’s really easy to make fun of what we do,” says Bohrman.  He cited a recent write-up about Cassette Store Day in which Billboard referred to Burger as “scabby truants” while using sun-dappled in the same sentence to describe Moon Glyph.  “People have been hating on Burger since the beginning.  That’s been part of the process of growing as a label and learning.  The more people who know about your label, the more times you’re gonna get people fuckin’ making fun of you or just like, dismissing your whole operation in a sentence.”

Describing Burger as an “operation” is perhaps more accurate a term than “record label”; it’s a label first and foremost, sure.  But there’s also the record store, which has changed the landscape of Fullerton’s music culture.  Fullerton shaped Burger’s sound, says Bohrman, “because we’re so influenced by where we are, and Disneyland and the suburbs and [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][having] nothing to do.  We have a lot more cool shows coming through town now, and a lot more people coming out.”  Burger has turned Fullerton into something of a Mecca for fans and bands interested in what the label is doing.  Just last December, Gabe Fulvimar (who records and plays music as Gap Dream) moved to Fullerton to record his second LP under the support of Rickard and Bohrman – he actually lives in a storage space in the store.  Almost like a cult or the Mafia, Burger welcomes bands into the fold and they automatically become family.

“Any kind of way you can think of a band getting on a label, we’ve probably done it,” Bohrman reflects.  “We put out so many different bands.  We’ve had them come to us, we’ve gone to them, we get demos, we’ve had labels coming to us wanting to put out the bands.  But for the most part, we seek out stuff.”

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Bohrman and Rickard’s uncanny knack for identifying unusual talent is, by and large, the biggest factor in establishing the label’s momentum.  They’ve been instrumental in introducing and supporting acts like King Tuff, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees, now stalwarts of the scene.  Bohrman shrugs this off.  “Ty and all them were already on their way up.” But Burger’s rise to recognition goes hand-in-hand with the bands it is so often associated with; their trajectories actually compliment one another.

“I remember we were at Kirby’s Beer Store in Kansas City on tour with Makeout Party and Audacity and I was sitting in the driver’s seat and I was like we should put out tapes of all these records ‘cause none of the records coming out at the time has cassette releases with them.” Bohrman recalls.  “So I just immediately emailed Ty who was in The Traditional Fools at the time and I emailed The Go and I emailed Apache.  And those were our three first cassettes that we did outside of Makeout Party or Audacity or anybody.  Then we got ahold of a bunch more people, then people started getting ahold of us, and it just started growing and growing and growing.”

Burger’s stars also aligned with the resurgence of cassette tape collecting, and in many ways, contributed directly to it.  “I think actually we kind of helped create the craze that’s around cassettes right now, as far as just releasing so many things in the face of people telling us that cassettes are stupid and no one buys cassettes and why are you making cassettes?“  Now, there’s a whole new generation interested in the medium.  “A lot of older people will complain that it’s just nostalgia, it’s just a fad, people will get over it.  But for eighty percent of the people who are buying our cassettes there’s no nostalgia involved. It’s a whole new thing to them. They’re getting cars passed down from their parents that have cassette tape players in them and people want to listen to music and if you offer them a way to listen to good music, they’ll take it.  That’s what we found out.”

And so they kept putting out tapes, sometimes five a week, amounting to, at current count, over 500 cassette releases (not to mention fifty-some vinyl releases).  Bohrman and Rickard exhibit a level of enthusiasm for promoting each and every release that’s unparallelled.  And they’re clever at branding too, placing the Burger logo not just on cassette spines, but also on tees and buttons that bands proudly sport in music videos.  “We’ve just always been hype men, I guess.  Once we quit our jobs and started the record store and started working 100% full-time on Burger that’s when it started getting really big.” says Bohrman.  “This year, we got proper PR, we got proper distribution… that’s why you’ve been seeing us in a bunch of the bigger magazines and things.  It’s cause our PR people rule.  They’re really really good.  And we’re really good ourselves just doin’ the grassroots thing.”

Their latest grassroots promotional project is their effervescent YouTube channel, known as BRGRTV.  The theme song is performed by Free Weed and is as catchy as anything else in the Burger catalogue, begging the questions “What makes the ladies think you’re cool?” and “What’s your favorite TV show?” before responding with a dreamy “Must be BRGRTV” and launching into fuzzy clips of in-store performances or outtakes from music videos.  BRGRTV’s off-the-cuff feel bares the mark of genius, but like most Burger endeavors, BRGRTV seems to have happened organically.  “We met this kid Steele O’Neal” Bohrman explains.  “He turned us on to Cherry Glazer and some other bands, and we really liked his name and he was interested in filming stuff.  And then we had Jack Sample, who also has a really good name, who had done the Between Two Buns documentary for a high school project.”  O’Neal and Sample had just graduated high school when they were asked to film BRGRTV episodes full time. “It just came from me and Lee getting stoned together and talking about random stuff and within a week and a half we had the first episode with the theme song.  It all came together really really quickly.  Since that episode we haven’t missed a week.”

That’s truly an accomplishment, considering the tours and showcases they’ve been immersed in executing.  They virtually took over SXSW last spring with what seemed like an endless stream of raucous parties.  Buoyed by the positive response, they began plotting their current tour.  “We did a Caravan of Stars tour back in 2010.  It was good, but it was hellish on the road.  People knew what Burger was but it wasn’t like this big thing yet, and it was The Cosmonauts first tour.  So it was a rough ride but everybody had fun.”

The road should be less bumpy this time around, because at this point, Burger seems like an unstoppable machine.  The tours and the TV show, the acclaimed releases, the thriving record store and the enthusiastic new audiences all seem to highlight an incredible amount of dedication, hard work, and forward thinking.  But Bohrman remains nonchalant. “We really haven’t planned anything that’s happened.  Everything has just happened, with no we’re gonna put out this many tapes or we’re gonna do this tour or we’re gonna release all these things and we’re gonna be the biggest!  It just kind of fell into our laps, and just started happening.  It’s crazy.”  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plans for Burger’s future.  “We definitely have plans for world domination.” Bohrman jokes.  “New York, Tokyo… we want to go all over the world.  It’ll happen.  As long as we keep it in our heads it’ll happen eventually.”  He adds, “We don’t have a lot of time to sit back and like, look at what we’ve done.  We’re moving so quickly and there’s so many things happening all the time.”

Bohrman’s dream project is a bit unexpected.  When asked what he’d been listening to, he mentioned Burger favorites The Memories, Cornershop, White Fang, John Krautner, Curtis Harding and Gap Dream.  And then, without any hint of irony, gushed “And I listen to a lot of Weird Al.  He’s not a Burger band yet, but I listened to him today.  I’ve met him a couple of times.  I’m a super huge Weird Al fan.”  Is a Weird Al and Burger Records collaboration in the works?  It might be closer to happening than you’d think.  “He actually knows about us, cause we were trying to get him to play one of our festivals, and he wanted a lot of money but I kept telling people ‘Get Weird Al, get Weird Al!’ and like out of nowhere I would just send a text and be like ‘I reeeeeally want Weird Al for this’ and his people wrote back “Why do you want Weird Al so bad for this show?”  It was for Burgerama and so I wrote them a really long email about how much of a fan I am and why we wanted him but I never heard anything back.  He’s had a lot of original songs too that he could put to tape.  I’ve dreamed about putting out an original Weird Al record with no parodies.”

Weird Al aside, the key to understanding Burger Records is that first and foremost, Bohrman and Rickard are consummate music fans.  At the heart of everything is a passion for music and the effect it can have on the listener.  Even if some media outlets refer to Burger’s sound or ethos dismissively, Bohrman and Rickard and surely everyone they’ve brought in to help out as the label expands are earnestly attempting to share with the world music in which they hear something special.  There are destined to be those that don’t understand it, but perhaps more importantly, there are easily as many folks who absolutely comprehend the label’s vision, and to them, Burger is beloved.

“We didn’t see that when we first started making cassettes… but as time went on we could see that something was happening and it was growing and there was a real movement happening for what we were doing.  Which has just been the best, most blessed thing ever,” Bohrman reflects.  “I mean, that’s what we want to do – turn people on to music and create a legacy for Burger and for us and actually make a difference in music in general.  ‘Cause music is so important.  It can change feelings and it’s just a really magical thing and to be a part of it – to be like, a bigger part of it than I ever thought I would have been – it’s just the greatest thing ever.  It means a lot to us that people are listening and getting something out of it; it’s more than we could have ever asked for.”


INTERVIEW: Gap Dream’s Gabe Fulvimar

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Gabe Fulvimar of Gap Dream.  Photo by Steele O'Neal, courtesy Pitch Perfect PR/Burger Records.
Gabe Fulvimar of Gap Dream. Photo by Steele O’Neal, courtesy Pitch Perfect PR/Burger Records.

Gabe Fulvimar neglected to bring a towel, toothbrush or dental floss on a cross-country tour with Burger Records’ Caravan of the Stars, but he departed Fullerton, CA with a few choice essentials.  “I forgot everything, I just brought…I brought a backpack full of underwear, that’s all I brought.  Fuck,” he laughs when we catch up with him via phone.  He is somewhere between Olympia and Vacouver, and his companions on the road are traveling even lighter.  “Lee [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Rickard, half the founding duo of Burger Records] didn’t bring no underwear.  He doesn’t wear underwear, he doesn’t wear socks.  He is free of socks and underwear.  He has unleashed those burdens from his back.”

Fulvimar, better known in certain circles by his musical moniker Gap Dream, isn’t letting his lack of toiletries get to him.  He’s riding high on the impending release of his second LP, Shine Your Light, out 11/12/13 on Burger Records, the Fullerton based imprint that built a reputation on releasing eccentric lo-fi, garage, and punk cassettes.  When asked what he’s most excited about, he enthusiastically responds “I’m excited about all of it!  I’m excited about the release date, I’m excited about the catalogue number, I’m excited about the cover, I’m excited about the little piece of paper that’s gonna go around the cover… oh it’s crazy.”  M Wartella, famed NYC-based illustrator known for his work on Cartoon Network’s Mad Magazine, designed the holographic artwork, having recently hooked up with Burger labelmates King Tuff to animate the band’s trippy video for “Sun Medallion”.  “He’s one of the most brilliant artistic minds of our time.  It’s gonna look like Lisa Frank shit on mushrooms.  It’ll be sick,” says Fulvimar.

As mind-bending as the cover art sounds, we’re not gonna lie – it’s the music that we’re most excited about.  Gap Dream’s warped synths, vintage-tinged riffs, and intricate, infectious drum rhythms left us humming material from the self-titled debut since it came out last year.  In the interim between records, Gap Dream released swanky singles “Chill Spot” and “Fantastic Sam”.  While the newer tracks stay well within Gap Dream’s wheelhouse, it’s fun to hear Fulvimar amping up the synths. “I love synthesizers and I’ve always loved them, and I’m always going back and forth between guitars and synths.  Right now I’m in a synth phase,” he says.  “I just got a Moog Little Phatty that Burger bought for me, and I’m using that on the tour, not playing guitar, and it sounds great.  It’s the best sounding thing on the planet.  I love it.”  Fulvimar’s reverence for synths ensures he’s not in any danger of treading into cheesy 8-bit territory on tour or on the new record.  “It’s a classy instrument.  You’re supposed to treat it right.  You’re not supposed to treat it like Nintendo.”

Other than synth obsession, there’s another factor which stands to have a huge influence on Shine Your Light.  Fulvimar moved from Cleveland to California last December.  “The new record has more of a West Coast sound than the last one, which is funny because I didn’t think the first one had any sort of West Coast sound,” Fulvimar says.  In Fullerton, he’s fully integrated into Burger culture.  “I’m living in a storage space,” he says.  “We have a good time.  We work on Burger stuff and Gap Dream stuff all the time.  It’s a great place to be.  Everyone’s great, it’s like we’re a family living there.  I love being there.”

During the recording of the record, Rickard and Sean Bohrman (co-founder of Burger) were constantly exposing Fulvimar to obscure music.  “At any given moment I was hearing something different.  We’re all hanging out, listening to music, you know, enjoying rock n roll.  So it came out in the songs.  It’s interesting to listen to that collection of songs and see how all over the map I was at the time.  But you know, it definitely changed the sound.  I dunno in what way, if it was good or bad, but it did.”  These new influences provided ample inspiration for Fulvimar to take Gap Dream in some new directions.  “I don’t like to do the same thing twice.  I’m always trying to do something that I haven’t done yet when I write songs.  I’m always trying to break new ground and trying to make something that I haven’t heard yet, I guess. I’m just trying to make songs that I want to hear.”

Gap Dream is poised to go a long way with Burger’s backing.  Rickard is literally at the helm on the Caravan of Stars tour; Fulvimar says he’s “driving us all over the country, making sure we don’t, you know… fall into peril.  He’s like our spirit guide, he’s the best of the best, he knows his way around every city in the country.  He’s the man.”   He met Rickard on the first Caravan of Stars bus tour, back in 2010.  “That’s when I was introduced to Burger.  And ever since then, it was me ordering tapes from them, and getting really stoked on ‘em and excited about what they were doing, and then it turned into me submitting my own stuff.”  The label put out Gap Dream’s first LP and it gained momentum among fans and critics interested in its breezy, psych-tinged sound.  “It just kinda took off based on the fact that Burger put the tape out, [and] people were interested.  They got me out of the house pretty much.”

For someone who has been playing guitar and recording his own music for nearly two decades, there’s a level of modesty involved in those statements.  Fulvimar remains modest in discussing his musical background, as well.  “I started playing guitar when I was in like fourth grade.  I never really took it seriously enough to learn anything as far as theory, but I always recorded myself and always found ways to do things with limited means.  I guess you could classify me as ‘studio nerd’.”

Gap Dream doesn’t come across as your typical bedroom recording project, and in a live setting it takes on a life of its own.  When I saw Gap Dream at now-defunct Brooklyn DIY space Big Snow Buffalo Lounge during CMJ 2012 it was a four-piece rock n’ roll outfit, but for Burger’s Caravan the line-up has shifted again.  “Now we’re trying to hammer it down so we do have a set lineup, just because it’s becoming a pain in the ass to deal with that every time we go on the road.  We don’t have a drummer on this tour, we’re just using a drum machine.  It has more of a vibe like the record does.”

Assisted by Bobby Burger on bass, Fulvimar’s “buddy” Corey on guitar, and a drum machine, Fulvimar explains “It’s a groovier set.  It’s got more of a dance feel to it and it’s more chill, more angular.  It’s fun, people have been getting into it.  We just did our first show last night, and it’s been a positive reception and fun, you know.  We’ve been having a good time.”  That good time is an essential motivating force behind Fulvimar’s project.  “I love playing.  Like, we love playing for people and getting their minds off how they owe rent or whatever.  We just like to spread a good vibe and hopefully, you know, make some dough in the process.”

Along with The Growlers, Cosmonauts, Habibi, Pangea, White Fang and Colleen Green, Fulvimar and crew are about halfway through the tour, which rolls into New York tonight for a sold-out show at Bowery Ballroom.  That performance, and the tour as a whole, is sure to get folks talking about the new LP.  “I feel like if you love to play something and if you love what you’re doing it’s gonna come out sounding good, because you’re gonna put the care into that is necessary.  It’s like cooking.  It’s like anything.”  He’s got his backpack of underwear, his best friends, and one other essential item: his signature yellow-lensed sunglasses.  “I mean, I just started wearing ‘em because I liked ‘em.  I had a bunch of different colors and my actual glasses broke and I needed something on my face so started to wear those all the time, and they just kinda stuck.”  With the release of Shine Your Light, Gap Dream is similarly destined to become a permanent fixture – a little retro, a little brazen, and unassailably cool.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Highlights from Austin: SXSW 2013

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Hello, Austin.

The whirlwind is over for another year.  South by Southwest, Austin’s prolific music festival, drew to a close this past weekend after an onslaught of performances by close to a thousand acts from all over the globe.  AudioFemme was on-hand to witness the spectacle and to attempt to cover as many of these performances as is humanly possible.  For us, SXSW represents a chance to catch bands on the rise, to see what they bring to an audience in a live setting, and to chat with them as well as with others in the industry.  For those who live, breathe, and love music, there’s nowhere else to be come mid-March.

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AudioFemmes on the loose!




But when Zachary Cole Smith, lead singer of Brooklyn band DIIV, drafted a disgruntled tumblr post early in the week about corporate greed running rampant at SXSW, I couldn’t simply dismiss it with a roll of the eyes.  SXSW is a thing that exists largely due to corporate sponsorship, as is made evident by the towering Doritos advertisements, free booze, and brand names attached to most any showcase.  These are all brands that are geared toward a young, music-loving demographic, from Doc Martens to Dolce Vita, from Spotify to Hipstamatic, from Taco Bell to Tito’s Vodka.  There’s no better place to sell wares to a generation that can’t focus on anything for longer than five minutes than to drop a banner behind a stage where Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are jumping around.  And there’s no better way to keep the ads coming, straight to the email inboxes of that hip demographic, than to make everyone RSVP to corporate-sponsored events.

So when Smith denounced SXSW as a “glorified corporate networking party” he wasn’t incorrect.  Diiv has never been afraid of name-dropping, dating models, or posing for fashion photographers, and later admitted to having a blast at SXSW despite the cynical outburst.  Though the post made some waves, there wasn’t a single person who disagreed wholly with the statements therein; if anything, a resounding “DUH” was heard throughout the festival.  And we partied anyway.

Avoiding the corporate goons, as it turns out, isn’t all that hard.  We recommend taking off the badge and trekking (or pedi-cabbing) over to Austin’s Eastside, where entrance to free shows – night and day – don’t require so much as proof of drinking age.  There, the quality of local artisan food trucks is leagues above lukewarm free tacos, and girls sell vintage clothes to help save their dying pit bulls.  It was home to some of the most inspiring performances I had the pleasure of seeing at SXSW this year, including a rambunctious 45-minute set from Thee Oh Sees, Impose Magazine’s expertly curated showcases, and several raucous Burger Records’ shindigs to name a few.

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2419″]Thee Oh Sees “Contraption/Soul Desert”

Burger Records represents a paradigm in stark contrast to Smith’s blithe assertion that “music comes last” at SXSW.  Label founders Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard have spent the last six years putting out limited run cassettes and vinyl to an adoring audience, breaking artists like King Tuff and Ty Segall. If you want to know what’s next in terms of noise punk or kitschy garage or lo-fi pop, you could do much worse than to spend a few hours perusing Burger’s catalogue.  At SXSW, Bohrman and Rickard made it extra easy, throwing two large showcases and several satellite parties (including one at Trailer Space Records that had to be shut down by the fire department), giving the sunburned masses at SXSW a rare opportunity to absorb as much Burger in one sitting as their damaged ear drums and short attention spans could allow.  Frenzied sets by Audacity, Nobunny, Lovely Bad Things, Useless Eaters and Gap Dream – among many, many others – proved that there’s a lot of diversity and innovation within Burger’s staple sounds, and much to get excited about.

[jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2420″]Lovely Bad Things

If there’s anyone more genuinely stoked about repping their local scene than Californians it’s probably Canadians.  I finally got to see Young Galaxy perform during Pop Montreal’s day party at The Liberty and my high expectations were met in every way.  This is a band who make songs about loving music wholeheartedly; on the b-side for the lead single from Young Galaxy’s newest album, Ultramarine (out April 23rd on Paper Bag Records) lead vocalist Catherine McCandless sings “I wouldn’t mind dying at all / If it weren’t for the songs I’d miss”.  Though they didn’t play it during the six song set at The Liberty, they closed out with newest single “New Summer”, an anthem to warm-weather flings and driving in cars with the “windows down and the stereo loud”.  Most poignant of all was the band’s affirming rendition of “Pretty Boy” (also on the forthcoming record).  Maybe it’s the fact that the band’s drummer is out as a lesbian, that I have friends struggling with gender identity, or the current political climate toward trans and gender queer folks, but it felt huge to hear McCandless singing “I felt your pain when you changed your name / We were each other’s only family” and then follow that up with “I know you feel isolated / and I hear what you won’t say / Who cares if they disbelieve us, don’t understand / You’re my pretty boy, always”.  That’s some pretty heavy shit to mask with upbeat synths and pop rhythms, but that’s Young Galaxy’s bread and butter.  Tackling those epic sorts of feelings and making people dance to it is what they do best.  And after playing six shows in four days, those emotions still felt authentic.

[jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2411″]Young Galaxy “New Summer”

Playing zillions of shows in one week has got to be taxing, which probably contributes to the jaded attitudes that some bands have in their approach to SXSW, but there are just as many artists who embrace it.  Captured Tracks wunderkind Mac DeMarco (also from Canada, go figure) claims to have played seventeen shows over the course of the week and that probably wasn’t an exaggeration; his name popped up on more bills than any other.  I caught his last set on Saturday night at The Parish, where he started the evening by watching labelmates Naomi Punk from the side of the stage.  He mentioned several times that he was getting sick, but that didn’t stop him from delivering an energetic performance.  While he wasn’t swinging from the rafters as he had literally done at some shows a few days prior and didn’t put up much of a fight when then sound guy told him he was out of time, he retained the air of bratty whimsy for which he’s known as he mashed up favorites “Freaking Out The Neighborhood” “My Kind Of Woman” and “Rock and Roll Night Club” with the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Rammstein’s “Du Hast” (no, really).

[jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2416″]Mac DeMarco “Du Hast/Freaking Out The Neighborhood”

Zac Pennington from Parenthetical Girls is yet another performer who proves that attitude and persona are everything.  Before his band’s set, he got into a bitchy spat with Valhalla’s sound man.  During the set, he paraded around an audience mostly filled with bros in attendance to see Maserati, draping himself over staircases and belting it out from the top of the circular bar like a cabaret version of Coyote Ugly.  Similar bravado appeared elsewhere as well – Mykki Blanco’s ferocious party jams transformed the mermaid grotto behind Easy Tiger into vogue-fest, followed by Angel Haze’s provocative mile-a-minute raps.  During “New York” Angel Haze descended from the stage, moving through an awed audience, and danced with yours truly while Edinburgh-based rappers Young Fathers looked on.  Young Fathers brought slick production, badass style, and sick dance moves to their SXSW performances, and was the one act that hands-down truly blew me away this year when I saw them Tuesday night at The North Door (look for an interview on AudioFemme soon).

[jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2413″] Parenthetical Girls “Curtains” [jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2417″] Mykki Blanco

Not that there wasn’t plenty to be blown away by.  Waiting in line to see Phosphorescent, Metz and Youth Lagoon at Red-Eyed Fly, I ran into Ahmed Gallab, better known these days as Sinkane.  Ahmed and I go way back, having known each other from our years in Ohio where we met over a decade ago.  I’ve seen every band he’s ever played in, from the Unwound-esque Sweetheart to Pompeii This Morning (in which he played bedroom-produced dream pop before that was even a thing) and then, after he was asked to stand in for Caribou’s drummer through two tours, in Of Montreal and Yeasayer.  His Sinkane project is different in that it is wholly his endeavor, and his personal signature is always apparent.  He uniquely marries funk and psychedelica and Afrobeat and through consistently stellar live performances is finally starting to get the attention he deserves – even, it seems, from R&B megastar Usher.  Usher invited Ahmed on stage and performed Sinkane’s “Runnin'” to a packed Fader Fort, with Afghan Whigs as the backing band.  Watching this from backstage was one of my favorite moments of SXSW, not just because Ahmed got to play with such heavyweights but because they were singing his song.  And it could only have happened at SXSW, in part because of the corporate sponsorship Diiv railed against.  The fact of the matter is that bigwigs bring in big acts, allowing smaller bands who are trying to make it big the opportunity to meet those that inspired them and, dare I say it, connect, network, and collaborate.

That goes, too, for folks like myself who might easily be lumped into the “industry vampire” designation Zachary Cole Smith’s tumblr post pointed out.  Not only do I get to spend a week basking in the sun (or, you know, burning to a crisp) and drinking free bourbon that tastes like maple-syrup infused cake frosting, it’s an opportunity for me to meet other people who actually really do care about music, to trade notes, recommend bands, invade pedestrian bridges at 2am because Merchandise is playing a show on one.  Sure, it’s disappointing when bands have technical difficulties due to the strain of quick set-ups or shortened sets thanks to lightning-fast turn over, but just as often it’s inspiring to see a band make it work despite those constraints.  It’s also exhilarating to walk down a bustling street and actually hear music coming out of every bar, flowing together, washing over the crowd.  With any huge event like this, there are bound to be positives and negatives.  It would be nice if all this was just a random grouping of DIY efforts and corporations didn’t have any hand in it, but that’s not the case.  Even so, it manages to fulfill many of my music-loving fantasies, and that’s what keeps me going back over and over again.

[jwplayer config=”AF01 YT” mediaid=”2421″]SXSW Vine Compilation. In order of appearance: Avan Lava, Young Fathers, Nicholas Jaar, Radiation City, The Coathangers, Colleen Green, Psychic Twin, Parenthetical Girls, The Soft Moon, Marnie Stern, Palma Violets, Destruction Unit, a breif tour of 6th St., Bleeding Rainbow, Thee Oh Sees, Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze, Bridge Party feat. Merchandise/Parquet Courts, Metz, T.I. / Pharrell / B.O.B. etc., Sinkane / Usher / Afghan Whigs, Usher encore, Young Galaxy, Sam Flax, Lovely Bad Things, Audacity, Nobunny, Chris Cohen, Mac DeMarco, Conner Youngblood, Brooke Candy, and a night ride in a pedi-cab.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]