"We're doin' it for fun // we're doing it for the feel!"
In my opinion, Burger Records is the new Kill Rock Stars, as far as “a home for cool underground weirdo bands." When they announced Burger-a-Go-Go, a day of female fronted punk bands, I could not talk about anything else for the months leading up to it. Lo-fi bubble gum punk rock is possibly my favorite music genre, and Burger-a-Go-Go’s line-up seemed like a dream come true: Dum Dum Girls, The Coathangers, Best Coast, Peach Kelli Pop, Shannon and the Clams, L.A. Witch, The Aquadolls, Death Valley Girls, Bleached- someone pinch me.
Peach Kelli Pop
The punk pop group looked as cute as they sound, which is definitely a compliment. At the end of their set they asked the audience, what should we play? The answer? The Sailor Moon theme song. And they PLAYED IT. The crowd sang along and loved every second of it- where else would that have happened?
These women were electric banshees, igniting the audience with their witchy powers of punk rock. I couldn’t spot one head in the crowd that wasn’t on the spectrum between ‘nodding along’ to ‘full-on headbanging.’ They even closed with my favorite song of theirs- “DON’T TOUCH MY SHIT!”
The Clavin sisters have made some of my favorite garage punk with a melodic warmth; their album Ride Your Heart is one of my most-played this year. It was so awesome to see them perform live, and to watch their effect on the audience- everyone around me (including me) sang along to ‘Dead in Your Head’ at the top of our lungs. Jen Clavin is a true front woman, engaging the crowd, swinging the mic, and jumping off amps. Her sister Jessie amazed me with her ability to shred her bass guitar while also doing a body-twist head-bang rock-out dance at the same time. They were so in tune with each other and the songs that the resulting spectacle was one of the night’s highlights.
Shannon & the Clams
WHOA. Can we acknowledge how rare it is to see a band who sounds better live than on recordings? Shannon & the Clams blew me away. Their ‘prom doo-wop mixed with surfer rock and vintage punk from the south’ sound is strange enough on an album, but damn did they bring their songs to life on stage. The crowd went nuts for them, and no one could resist dancing to the beachy motown beat of “Hey Willy”- my friend Andres even managed to crowdsurf at that point. As hard as their sound is to accurately describe, it’s even harder to sufficiently explain just how entranced the audience was- Shannon just may be a witch. Do yourself a favor and catch a show the next time they’re in town- you’ll fall in love, promise.
Dum Dum Girls
The most polished sounding set of the night came from the Dum Dum Girls, who also stood out as the most well-behaved of the acts at BAGG. I adore their albums, and think Too True is one of the best of this year, but it’s not nearly as punk as their previous stuff. Regardless, their sound was solid and their set was impressive- they just didn’t seem to engage everyone to the extent the other acts did. But the crowd lost it when the opening bars of “The Lost Boys and Girls Club” began, and everyone around me was in to it- the love was definitely there. I adored their outfits a ton too; the Dum Dums are always very well-dressed with great hair (which, while a positive attribute, further made them stand out from the other acts, who looked like they woke up and went on stage.)
Arguably the biggest draw of the night, Bethany Cosentino's band seemed as stoked to be there as the crowd was, and she gleefully let us know. “How cool is this? How great is today? This music is effing awesome!” Again, the crowd ate it up, even after gorging all day on killer acts. 2 seconds into every song’s start, and the cheers roared up again like an engine- “I love this song!” Everyone knew all the words, and the ensuing sing-a-long was just the energetic boost needed after being on our feet all day. Best Coast played their beachy California-inspired bop-along songs and their cheeky sad girl nation ballads, and wove both seamlessly together. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Bethany’s rad outfit- a black tank with a green alien head and red plaid skirt. Perfectly pop punk, just like the night.
As soon as we stepped in to the crowded Observatory we could feel the excitement in the air- everyone there was as stoked as we were to experience this girl band fiesta. The fact that all the bands were “girl bands” was the point and yet, in the end, not even that important. The fact that they were all there, rocking our faces off and having a blast doing it, was. The general feeling was we were all witnessing the birth of something great, the very first year of a potential legend.
Burger-a-Go-Go will never be as big as, say, Outside Lands or Hard Whatever, but it could very well grow to be a new FYF. All the hope in my heart is invested in this becoming an annual event; I mean it's the musical equivalent of having dirt under your painted nails, who doesn't dig that?