Punk-Rock Frenzy Takes Over Mosswood Park In Oakland

By Dave Pehling

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Entering it’s eighth year, the annual Burger Boogaloo festival brings a host of great bands to Oakland’s Mosswood Park on the last weekend of June for two full days of unhinged punk mayhem once again hosted by iconic film director John Waters. Co-produced by SoCal imprint Burger Records and Bay Area rock promoters Total Trash Productions, Burger Boogaloo presents it’s biggest line-up yet this year with headlining performances by Detroit punk pioneer Iggy Pop, UK legends the Buzzcocks, LA punk greats X and Redd Kross much more.

The Boogaloo has established itself as one of the premiere underground rock festivals in the country on par with Goner Records’ yearly Gonerfest and the Boogaloo’s Southern California counterpart, Burgerama. While the music being played on the two stages (the main Butt City Stage and the smaller Gone Shrimpn Mosswood Amphitheater stage) is central to the two-day event, Burger Boogaloo also features vendors selling records, clothes and guitar gear in addition to an array of food options. The festival will also host a pair kick-off parties Friday night at the Starline Social Club and Eli’s Mile High Club as well as night shows taking place after the festival at those venues on Saturday and Sunday.

For the third year running, Burger Boogaloo is bringing its marque host with pencil-mustached director and revered trash-culture expert John Waters serving as MC. Expelled from NYU where he was studying film in the 1960s, Waters rose to notoriety thanks to his string of ’70s campy midnight movies including Pink FlamingosFemale Trouble and Desperate Living. Making up what the director termed his “Trash Trilogy,” the films shredded the boundaries of conventional propriety and movie censorship with outrageous dialog and action as well as establishing drag queen Divine (Waters’ friend from his Baltimore, Maryland childhood and muse, Harris Glenn Milstead) as an actor and cult figure.

Waters would eventually go on to more mainstream success with his later films like Hairspray (which inspired the Broadway musical and movie adaptation), the Johnny Depp film Cry-Baby and the scathing satire Serial Mom, but he has remained an icon of trash culture between his b-movie appearances, books and This Filthy World is a one-man stage show exploring his artistic origins. More recently, Waters has explored visual arts with mixed media and manipulated photo exhibits that by his own admission aim to inspire disgust with the viewer. The past two years, Waters delivered no shortage of off-color commentary and hilarious band introductions from the stage. His return as host should be no less entertaining.

The line-up for the opening day of this year’s explosion of unbridled punk intensity with Stooges singer and punk icon Iggy Pop topping the bill Saturday. Along with fellow Detroit rockers the MC5 (who considered the Stooges their “baby brother band” and were instrumental to the group getting signed to Elektra Records in 1968), the Stooges helped codify the sound of punk before the genre even existed. Between Iggy’s feral stage performances, the Asheton brothers (Ron on guitar, Scott aka Rock Action on drums) pounding out their minimalist caveman pummeling, and the band’s first two albums — their self-titled 1969 debut and the seminal opus Fun House the following year — the Stooges made an indelible mark on rock during their early years.

Commercial failure and growing drug dependency led the first line-up of the Stooges to implode by 1971, but Iggy would restart the band with new guitarist and musical foil James Williamson (Ron Asheton begrudgingly switched to bass). Under the patronage of admirer David Bowie, whose management company would orchestrate a new deal with Columbia Records, the reconvened band recorded another classic as Iggy and the Stooges: Raw Power. Though the record would be criticized for it’s poor mix and tanked commercially, like the other Stooges efforts, it is now regarded as one of the building blocks of punk.

The band would again disintegrate in a haze of heroin addiction and acrimony, but Iggy eventually kicked drugs and launched what would be a successful solo career, collaborating with Bowie as his producer and live keyboard player on the landmark recordings The Idiot and Lust For Life in 1977. He would lapse back into drug abuse in the decade that followed, putting out a string of albums that were erratic with occasional flashes of genius.

Iggy would reunite both line-ups of the Stooges in the 2000s, touring and headlining festivals to wide acclaim. More recently, Pop recorded and toured with a band helmed by Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme, garnering solid reviews for the collaborative effort Post Pop Depression last year. He and his current solo band will play hits from throughout the singer’s career to close Burger Boogaloo’s Saturday festivities.

The latter part of opening day will feature a dose of international garage-rock mayhem from Japanese punk heroes Guitar Wolf, one of the most powerful disciples of Iggy and the Ramones to ever emerge from the Far East. Over the last three decades, the Nagasaki-based power trio has built a reputation with their corrosive,  high-octane style of rock. Another iconic band from Los Angeles, Redd Kross, will be making a return appearance at the festival, playing classic tunes alongside tracks from their latest album Researching the Blues.

The balance of Saturday’s line-up offers a multitude of must-see bands with performances from tuneful NYC punks Baby Shakes, popular Bay Area outfits NOBUNNY and Personal and the Pizzas as well as visiting Canadian solo act Bloodshot Bill, LA-based In the Red recording act Wounded Lion, dynamic Sacramento garage rockers Losin’ Streaks and Aussie quartet Vertigo. Between band musical selections will be provided by concert promoter/garage-rock aficionado Sid S. Presley, the Spits singer Sean Wood (DJing under the name Sean Spits) and Popscene DJ Omar Perez.

Sunday’s roster of bands is topped by appearances by two influential acts who made an enormous impact on their respective scenes and the world at large in the late ’70s: the Buzzcocks and X, Along with the Damned and the Sex Pistols, the Manchester-based Buzzcocks were one of the first British punk bands to record and release their own record with the Spiral Scratch EP in early 1977. Principle songwriter Pete Shelley and bassist Steve Diggle would lead the band through the recording of their seminal full-length debut Another Music in a Different Kitchen and the quick follow-up Love Bites the following year, charting with “Ever Fallen In Love” and “I Don’t Mind.”

A compilation of the band’s hits — Singles Going Steady — introduced the Buzzcocks and their hook-laden songwriting to American ears. Unfortunately, the group would only manage one more album before splitting up in 1981. Shelley and Diggle held the first of what would be many reunions late in the decade, but unlike many bands who have been content to get back together to simply tour, the Buzzcocks have continued to put out vital music since reconvening, including their last two efforts, Flat Pack Philosophy and The Way.

One of the first punk bands to cross-pollinate the aggressive new sound with roots music in the late ’70s, pioneering Los Angeles quartet X stands as one of the great American groups from the era and the only one still operating with it’s classic original line-up almost four decades later.

Founded by bassist/singer John Doe and rockabilly-influenced veteran guitarist Billy Zoom in 1977, the outfit took shape with the addition of Doe’s poetry writing girlfriend Exene Cervenka as co-lead singer and drummer D.J. Bonebreak, who had previously played with fellow LA-punk progenitors the Germs and the Eyes.

X put out it’s first single — “Adult Books” backed with the ripping anthem “We’re Desperate” — the following year on independent label Dangerhouse Records. They became one of the standard bearers for the region. The mix of Zoom’s slashing roots-rock riffs with the poetic lyrics and ragged vocal harmonies of Doe and Cervenka would lead to a record deal with major independent Slash Records in 1980.

Produced by onetime Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, the band’s first two albums Los Angeles and Wild Gift garnered global critical acclaim and established X as a leading light of West Coast punk. Their success would continue with a leap to major label Elektra Records in 1982.

With Manzarek still on-board as producer, the follow-up efforts Under the Big Black Sun and More Fun in the New World broadened the band’s audience while introducing more country elements to their songwriting. Zoom departed the band in 1985, but would eventually return to the fold in the late ’90s. The reunited classic line-up has enjoyed a resurgence in live performances ever since that often focuses on the powerful songs from their initial output.

The rest of the Sunday line-up spotlights a wide array of garage and punk talent including Sacramento heroes FM Knives, freewheeling improvisational rock quartet NRBQ and noted New Orleans trash-rock duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat high on the bill. Bay Area acts will also be featured with appearances by Oakland doo-wop garage boppers Shannon and the Clams, a set from early early-era Flamin’ Groovies singer Roy Loney, and spandex-clad space/stoner rock group Glitter Wizard. On Sunday, DJs Big Nate, Aya Papaya 69 and Missy spin tunes between acts.

For tickets and additional information on Burger Boogaloo 2017 and the numerous affiliated night shows the festival is putting on during this exhausting garage-punk marathon weekend, visit the festival’s official website.

Burger Boogaloo 2017
Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2, 12 p.m. $69-$199
Mosswood Park


By Dave Pehling – Follow him on Twitter

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