Earlier this year, a fake poster advertising August's FYF Fest featured only female-fronted musicians performing at the event. Many people lauded the ambitious nature of the person who created the poster, though it wasn't what came to be.
However, the fact that it's a reality in OC is what makes Burger a-Go-Go such a refreshing event on the concert calendar.
When Burger Records co-founder Lee Rickard saw his vision blossom last year, he figured others would catch on to the idea of having only female-fronted bands perform at their own events--or, at minimum, there would be a change in the way festivals, mostly a boy's club, were booked. While Rickard and label boss Sean Bohrman have always put together diverse lineups for their events, including the label's signature Burgerama show, they are optimistic Burger a-Go-Go will continue to be radically different and special.
"This one, we had a little bit more time to think," Rickard says as he sits on a couch at Burger HQ in Fullerton. "We had Kim [Gordon] and Kathleen [Hanna] on the original wish list [last year], so it was neat to get them to play and to actively pursue them. We like to shoot for the stars and see what happens. Luckily, Kathleen was down, and we locked her in first, got a date, and it started going from there."
Similar to last year's event being booked around a Best Coast headlining gig at the Observatory, the Burger crew worked around Hanna's latest band, the Julie Ruin, moving Burger a-Go-Go to Labor Day weekend.
While Rickard and his Burger crew had just two weeks to curate last year's lineup, they had more time for the 2015 show, enabling them to pursue the bands whom they felt would best represent the culture. The result is a bigger, more ambitious lineup.
"One of the reasons we got Cat Power is that we know one of the guys in her band, and he interviewed us for something unrelated," Rickard explains. "We mentioned in passing that maybe Cat Power can do something and so on, and we let our booker, Jeff [Shuman] at the Observatory, know that she might be an option. This is one of her first shows since her baby was born."
Having 1990s icons such as the aforementioned Gordon's (formerly of Sonic Youth) new project, Glitterbust; Hanna of Bikini Kill; and Cat Power gives the event a solid foundation, celebrating the recent past and future of girl bands. These women are "in a league of their own," Rickard says, lauding the event. And this is what resonates with other bands on the bill, such as Burger's own Jessie Jones.
"It's pretty unbelievable that all of these female artists are going to be in the same room," Jones says. "Being on the bill with some of them, it's like this little-girl dream come true, and it's pretty cool. I think the concert is really blowing up, and it's important to be a part of an inspiring event for kids. I hope it inspires other girls to start playing music."
Granted, Rickard didn't get everyone on his wish list, but he's beyond satisfied how things came together. "We didn't get Charlotte Gainsbourg or the Go-Gos this year," Rickard says. "But we do have Charlotte Caffey's daughter, Astrid McDonald, whose band the Side Eyes is playing and represents the next generation. So Charlotte knows about it, and hopefully, she will be stoked on the event and tell the rest of the ladies [they] should do it."
One of the few repeat performers is Los Angeles garage-rock outfit Bleached. For the band's Jessie Clavin, Burger a-Go-Go represents the label's growth and foresight as concert promoters. She knows how the event can impact girls, who, like her, are excited to see some of their childhood heroes. "It's a kick in the face," she says. "We're girls, and we rock and all this stuff. But I also feel it's really cool, and I'm actually really excited to see Kim Gordon because I'm reading her book, and I fucking love it. She's so inspiring, and her book is inspiring to me the same way this festival is."
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For this second Burger a-Go-Go--which is expected to sell out, just as the inaugural event did--Rickard and Bohrman plan to expand with food trucks, vendors (in particular an all-girls skate demo) and more. "I still think it's going to be as big or even bigger than Burgerama," Rickard proclaims. "I really think the Burger a-Go-Go tour is the next level for it. Each year, it's going to keep growing in stature. What we're trying to work on after is getting a really cool girl-group lineup to travel. We're happy to be the next wave and to bring our favorite groups together and show them to the world. I'm glad that it's us doing it because if someone else did it first, I'd be like, 'Oh, my God, that's a great idea!' and be bummed I didn't think of it first."
Burger A-Go-Go, featuring Cat Power, the Julie Ruin (featuring Kathleen Hanna), Kate Nash, Bleached, Glitterbust (featuring Kim Gordon and Alex Knost), Kimya Dawson, Cherry Glazerr, the Aquadolls and more, at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Fri., 2 p.m. $40-$80. All ages.