If there’s on thing to know about Burger Records it’s that their supporters, the Burger Heads, are a devoted bunch. They will go to great lengths to show their support for their favorite Burger bands. Be that in the form of not showering for a week to show solidarity or using a needle and thread to tattoo a smiley face on their bicep with a band’s name scribed beneath it, Burger Heads will go there. So it should come as no surprise that their annual Burger celebration known as Burgerama has grown steadily over time. Now in it’s third iteration, Burgerama is beginning to take the form of a true music festival and we couldn’t be happier to have gotten the chance to be a part of this spectacular from the get go.
For Burgerama III the Burger family added an outdoor stage to the festivities. Dubbed the “Rama Stage,” it was erected in the parking lot of The Observatory in Santa Ana and served as the location for the festival’s headliner sets. Burger Heads flooded the lot to its capacity and crowded the event’s two indoor stages as well. The Burger Heads are a colorful bunch, a bit crusty, and unruly, but they mean well, and sure know how to sniff out free shit. Luckily for us we had an upgrade in our location from last year at Burgeram II. For the III we were placed inside the Artist VIP area where our rig served as a fourth stage for those privileged enough to have the proper neon wrist band (aka the Creme De La Crust or upper crust) or those clever enough to sneak back there.
I arrived a few minutes behind my crew on Saturday, and had been receiving calls from all of our guys in advance of my arrival telling me that they were having trouble parking and getting their credentials. When I got there I found this to certainly not be the case. The parking lot staff that I encountered was a chubby sixteen year old looking lad. Our interaction went like this:
“I’m with the video crew, they told me to park in the staff lot.”
“You have to go back that way.”
“They told me this was the staff lot.”
“Huh? You have to go up front.”
“No, I was literally just there and they told me this was the staff lot where I should park.”
“Staff lot? I don’t really know what this is.”
“OK, well, it’s the staff lot, so I’m going to park here.”
Not too tough at all. From there I got my wristband and I was free to explore the crust.
First up on our crust-list was a band out of Oklahoma called Broncho. They were looping through SoCal on a tour and so they had a thick crusting upon them. One of the guys looked like he hadn’t washed his hair in a year, which I’m totally cool with. I haven’t used shampoo in like three months, it gives it that lived in look. Filth aside, these gents were pretty righteous. They popped into Cuz’s corner for a moment after their set, as did all of the bands at the Rama. However, Spud hadn’t fully woken up yet for this interview and he acted and asked questions as if he were going to a live feed. He came back to life shortly after and the Corner was full of the types of well thought out inquiries that it’s famous for.
It was right about then that the “caterers” started serving burgers. Now last year they had an actual grill with a grill man and you ordered a burger from him. It wasn’t the most official or sanitary looking setup, but I have to say I preferred it to this year’s situation. The Burgers at Burgerama III were served on day one in big metal Sterno dishes without serving utensils. This meant that everyone had to pick up burgers, buns, and lettuce/tomato/onion with their hands. As you can imagine, this was not a group of folks that frequently used Purell. However, when in Crusterville, do as the Cruster does, and we ate the burgers and loved them, even though there were no condiments in sight.
Our bellies slightly full and slightly nauseous we moved on to the next band, The Lovely Bad Things. They were as you can imagine lovely, bad, and things. They reminded of characters from Clockwork Orange, suspenders and all.
It was around this time that we started to realize that we were going to have to be a bit more frugal with our Lagunitas beer at Burgerama then we are at most events. No matter how hard we tried to explain to folks that the beer was for artists playing in The Van, they didn’t get it. These chicks from a band called Cumbia Queers really didn’t get it. I gave them a couple Lagunitas IPA’s and they were back about two minutes later. Gave them another two, then they came back another two minutes later. I told them they were at their limit, they were pretty bummed, then Spud caught them digging around inside The Van a few minutes after that looking for beers. As you can imagine, Spud was not too pleased with this scenario. Luckily these chicks didn’t speak the English too good so they probably only caught about half of what he was yelling at them. At any rate, they settled for PBR the rest of the day.
The next group to grace The Van stage on day one was The Audacity, our first repeat performer from Burgerama II. Audacity’s second romp in the van was dare I say headier than their first. They hit us with the loud right out the gate and kept it blistering all the way through. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here, packing that much sound into that tight little space is always a blast.
Following right behind The Audacity was the ever so sweet Ms. Colleen Green. Just her, a drum machine, and a guitar, and that’s all she needed. She got some serious quality time with Spud while she waited for us to charge our camera battery before her interview. That’s what we call a technical difficulty. I believe he said “guuuuurl” a minimum of fifteen times during their conversation.
Our final band for the day was a late add. I had been approached earlier in the day by a friendly fellow who went by the name of Pookie. He wanted to play in the van, but I was unfamiliar with his music. Then he said the magic words “I’m friends with NoBunny, he put out my album,” and I was sold. A friend of Bunny’s is a friend of ours, and if Bunny vouched for his music enough to put out Pookie’s vinly on Bunny’s Rubber Vomit Label, then I had no doubt that the music would be fabulous. In general Pookie seemed like a pretty fabo character. I was not lead astray.
Pookie and his Poodlez were all sorts of a good time. They came over to the van straight from their set on the main indoor stage. Pookie’s face was smeared with lipstick and he looked all sorts of fechlempt before his Van set, but boy did he pull it together. Not sure if we liked the song he dedicated to his ex-boyfriend or the song he dedicated to his new boyfriend more, but they were both pretty tremendous. After Pookie’s set we got a special guest appearance for Cuz’s corner, none other than Mr. NoBunny himself. He had a fluffy new bunny mask that looked far less smelly than the old bunny mask, and he had some wonderful words of wisdom to bestow upon the world via his favorite vessel for bestowing wisdom, Spud. There couldn’t be a better way to end the first day of Burgerama III then Bunny in The Van, so we didn’t try to one up that, instead we caught a little bit of The Growlers’ set and called it a night.
We were back at it the following afternoon, nobody showered in order to blend in with the thick crusting that had begun to encase The Observatory. On day two the “caterers” again busted out the burgers and this time they had condiments. No serving utensils still, but they had ketchup, so that was big time.
As for us, we had The Abigails up first, although when it was time for them to take the Van stage they were nowhere to be found. Luckily we have an intern for situations just like that, and we had him go over the PA system and page the band. They stumbled over moments later, minus their guitar player who never did materialize. In his place they put an attractive young lady holding a guitar and feigning (albeit very poorly) to play guitar. Apparently she volunteered to stand naked with the guitar but our intern told her YouTube rules didn’t allow that. Our intern was scolded profusely for this mistake. Had we been paying him he would have lost his job. As it stood the chick kept her clothes on and we filmed the session with her playing air guitar. It was still pretty damn good.
Cat Signs were the second band of the day and they brought one of their moms who was very excited about everything going on. I gave her a beer, it was a Lagunitas, she appreciated that, because the other beer being given away in the backstage area was not up to motherly standards (see that Lagunitas? MOTHER APPROVED!) Spud interviewed her along with the band, because mothers also approve of Spud.
Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel were scheduled to go fourth on the day but they had all their stuff ready early and so they asked Mystic Braves if they could switch set times with them. Mystic Braves agreed to this and Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel went about playing their set and drawing one of the biggest crowds around the van of the entire weekend. They attracted a writer from Vice Magazine’s music blog, Noisey, he wrote a pretty cool piece about their set. He talked a lot of smack about the portraits on the side of The Van, so I unfollowed him on Twitter, because that’s how ballers roll.
Mystic Braves found me midway through Mr. Elevator’s set to tell me that they were “too fucked up and scattered” to play Jam in the Van this time. Having been at Burgerama for quite some time at that point, I understood. Fortunately there had been a kid persistently bugging me all day to play in The Van with his band, Subpar. He was standing nearby when Mystic Braves dropped out and I said “hey dude, get your shit you’re on next.” Boy did his eyes light up. It was like we’d made a little boy’s dream come true, only…
“Um, this may sound like a dumb question, but do you have a bass? Mine broke during our set.”
“No dude, you better find one fast.”
Find one fast he did, and his dream was back on, and it was a pretty good dream. Subpar’s mothers were also milling about outside of the van during their set, and they should certainly be proud. Their sons wore their Hawaiin shirts like studs and played some music that was definitely up to par (it had to be said).
The last set of Burgerama III was another repeat offender, Gap Dream. His set up has changed since last we saw him and he’s incorporated a synthesizer into his music which ups the trippiness in his situation. The day had gone a little too smoothly up until that point, so I was none too surprised when our solar power kicked out on us. Luckily we had the option to plug in, but wait, the van kept tripping out the plugs so that was a no go. So we had to go to our third option, our generator, which is generally too loud to use to power our equipment during sessions, but given the right situation, a musician ready to get loud as loud gets, then it is now proven that the generator on a 1992 Winnebago Holiday Rambler will provide ample power to support a studio and PA speakers. Day saved.
As usual, when we’re done we pack up, only this time we had no beer to take home, the crusters got it all, and we’re glad they did. They showed us a good time as always, and that’s really the most important part, the fun. So Burger Heads, keep eating without utensils, keep following the bands you love, and most importantly, stay crusty, because that’s just the way we like you.