By: Adam Lovinus and Lilledeshan Bose
Burgers, beer, bands and boobs–Burgerama 4 definitely brought the essentials. The sold-out two-day festival over the weekend at the Observatory also showed its ability to super-size itself with big-budget headliners while still keeping the local flavor of a packed parking lot festival filled with tie-dyed Burger ilk of all ages. Going into its fourth year, the fest wasn't short on growing pains as it continued to figure out the constraints of holding a massive festival in the middle of a business park. But a lot of what we saw throughout the weekend proved that in the cannon of OC festivals, the 'Rama definitely reigns supreme. Here's our take on what was awesome and what was just meh about Burgerama 4.
Day 1 (Saturday)
By: Adam Lovinus
Meh: Getting inside
The festivities started off slow thanks to backed up traffic. One thing to note for Burgerama Five, if it is still at the Observatory next year, is encourage the Santa Ana Police Department to get to Harbor Blvd. and MacArthur Blvd. sooner than 4 p.m.
Meh: Parking troubles
Parking at the venue is for suckers anyway. $25 to park in the Observatory lot? Gouge city! That's like half the cost of a ticket. Word to the wise, get there early and take a spin through the industrial parks off MacArthur Blvd. Plenty of free parking back there. The OCTA 43 route is another option.
I can't remember ever writing good things about a security presence at a festival. But Massive Security scored a big time bonus when they did not confiscate my vape at the entrance. Other acts of good citizenry: lifting girls over the gate of the general audience area near the front of the stage, and clearing empty cups off tables in the beer garden.
Meh: No paper schedules
Burgerama has three stages with more than 30 bands playing, which warrants handing a out a schedule pamphlet. Sell advertisements in it so it pays for itself. I drained my phone battery checking the e-mailed version. Perhaps I should have been a good lo-fi ambassador and wrote the set times out by hand in my reporter's notebook.
Awesome: On the other hand, no paper schedules
Not having the schedule is a good way to strike up a conversation. Hey man, who is this? What is this song called? Good fans make a scene, and there were plenty of good fans here. Saturday I learned that I love "Shattered Me" by Bass Drum of Death. They were in from Oxford, Mississippi. This shit really is happening everywhere.
Awesome: Soko's boobs
The Constellation Room was shoulder to shoulder and swampy as fuck all day and night. Thank god for hot yoga. This bro was coming out all like, "trust me bro, do not go in there," and thankfully I did not heed these warnings. Ten minutes later, Soko got all punk rock and freed the nipple. So did several ladies from the audience. Check the Instagram!
Meh: Chucks rained from the sky
I am used to shows where they throw glowsticks. Here at Burgerama, they throw beat-up ass sneakers. It was raining dirty Chuck Taylors during the Tijuana Panthers set, which was then I was naive enough to meander out of the beer garden, and into the outskirts of the pit (the pit!) in the general audience section. Protect your neck!
Awesome: OG recording devices
There was a legit concert taper with a big, fuzzy microphone at the end of a 15 foot pole. Damn right he was recording analog. Somewhere in my dad's basement is a box full of Phish and Grateful Dead tapes. Dats wassup. Kinship vibes. His buddy had his robot cosplay game on point too.
Awesome:Backstage access for media
Thanks Lee and Sean. Water, beer and burgers on the house–that's good hospitality, fellas. A word of advice to anyone backstage, make sure to get your eat and drink on before 4:30 p.m. Bigger bands mean bigger entourages means more people means lines.
FIDLAR brought it so hard front to back. Opening song "Cheap Beer" set the tone and there was absolutely no let-up. Nothing like a road-polished punk band in its prime. Pure energy–and dare I say theirs are the Southland's sickest riffs since Rage Against the Machine. They teased the Sweater Song mid-set, and played through the house lights letting everyone know whose party it was.
Awesome: It seemed like everyone came for Weezer, who didn't disappoint. Rivers Cuomo's voice holds up like a vintage guitar. He even went super vintage and invited his dad on stage–awww! Whether or not they would play a classic setlist was the question at the outset, so here's your answer:
My Name is Jonas
Island in the Sun
Say It Ain't So
Back to the Shack*
Pork and Beans
Sweater Song (Undone)
Say It Ain't So
Encore: Buddy Holly
Next page: What was awesome and meh on Day 2
Day 2 (Sunday)
By: Lilledeshan Bose
Meh: Regurgitated '90s fashion
It was everywhere. Chunky shoe heels, Doc Martens, Manic Panic hair, floral prints all enrage me unnecessarily … I know I'm old, but I hate seeing my nostalgia other people because that means they eventually turn into objects of mockery. If we're reliving the '90s, we should at least have Beavis and Butthead around to make fun of all of you.
Awesome: Burgerama itself
I may diss on your regurgitated '90s fashion, kids of today, but the vibe at the Observatory over the weekend was so raw and earnest and heartfelt it brought me back to what made me love music in the first place. There were only true music fans at Burgerama — no custies who were only there to see and be seen, no purveyors of Coachella festival wear (well, maybe a few) … just fans who truly wanted to see every band they could and rush from stage to stage to not miss a thing. And when the only celebrity you see is the Workaholics' Blake Anderson , you know you're in good company, Burger Records.
Meh: Why were there smokers everywhere!?
I don't think I got the memo, but it seemed like smoking was the comeback du jour, second only to Doc Martens and baby doll dresses. Look, kids, I know you can't get into the beer garden yet, but vapes are a 21st century invention for a reason — use them!
Awesome: The beer
I always get excited when festivals have a good craft beer selection! Hangar 24 beers in the house!
Meh: Why weren't the set times staggered?
The worst part of the 2-day fest was having to choose between bands playing at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. Tennis vs. Curtis Harding. Nick Waterhouse vs. Dengue Fever. Audacity vs. Cotillon. I'd love to be able to see at least two bands in the same hour next time!
Awesome: Bone Thugs N Harmony
Bone Thugs definitely brought the hip-hop party to Burgerama. Everybody was waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care at "1st of tha Month," and they mined the '90s nostalgia in Southern California appropriately by paying tribute to Eazy E, Notorious BIG and Tupac (right up to a "California" snippet) as a prelude to "Crossroads." After 21 years together, it was still a joy to watch these guys harmonize … and two decades together meant they knew exactly how to get the crowd on their feet to dance.
Awesome + Meh: Ty Segall Ty Segall's headbanging-while-shredding prowess is unmatched by anyone under 30 today. His set was the liveliest I've ever seen him at. On the other hand, (here's the meh) I'm never ever sure what all those other people are doing on stage during his set.
Awesome: The really diverse lineup
When you think of a band on Burger Records, you automatically assume that it's four white guys playing grungy guitars on a Telecaster. But lo and behold, my Sunday highlights were of a lineup that was varied and diverse genre-wise: Nick Waterhouse brought the moves with his jazz and soul 7-piece band, and turned time elastic during his set's jam; Dengue Fever's contemporary Cambodian psychedelic rock was tight and slick, and I can't say enough good things about Michael Rault, who could ostensibly be called Canada's answer to Mac de Marco but less annoying. His set, held at the tiny and hot Constellation stage, was intense and sweaty, yet was a great singalong and super enjoyable. Last but not the least, there was Tennis! Husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley were backed by three other members for their Observatory stage set, and their easy listening chill-pop tunes helped right the lack of estrogen at Burgerama.