I'm going to start this multi-day post about Burger Boogaloo 2017 with a video that properly illustrates my deepest feelings about the 8th annual Oakland, California garage/punk music festival. Also, it may inspire you to dance along while you read this, I fervently hope. (Also, this may take forever to load with all the pictures, so dancing is a healthy way to deal with your frustration.)

Yes, Burger Boogaloo, you were made for me, specifically, and everybody told me so! This was the first year that I could make the journey down from Seattle to Mosswood Park to join with the 7000-or-so groovers and movers, the solid cats and the dirty dogs, and the boss bands and pretty pals that make my world shine like that sweet yellow California sunball in the sky. So we loaded up the truck (plane, actually) and we moved to Ber-ke-ley (Airbnb, that is, soaking tub, tech stars), rented a second camera at the fab Looking Glass Photo & Camera and prepared for Day One of Burger Boogaloo 2017! Hang on to your hats, kiddies; wild ride a-comin'!

After loading up my camera bag with the necessary supplies, weighing nearly a trillion pounds and likely ensuring my final compacted elderly height to be like, 3'7", I was dropped at the gate, checked in with the kind and friendly staff, and made my way over to the Gone Shrimpn Amphitheater. (If you don't know about what "shrimping" is, the fetish for which the stage was named this year, go Google it, but make sure you feel flexible about feet first, eh.) What else would you expect from a festival hosted by the one and only John Waters, the film director/writer/raunchy raconteur? (His band intros were on-point, so well-written, and flat-out hilarious.)

The charming Chuck Ribak also joined in Master of Ceremonies duties with his specialty "Dad jokes," which is appropriate as he is the father of Marcos Ribak, the Boogaloo founder, head honcho of Total Trash Productions, and chief crowd surfer. You'll see photos of the Ribaks frequently in my coverage, and I thank both of them (and Marc's lovely teal-tressed S.O., Amy Carver) for this which we are about to receive, a-f'n-men.

Look who is on Gone Shrimpn! It's Car Crash all the way from Tokyo, Japan with hard, fast, slash and burn punk rock to wake up any noontime slackers that might have been ambling into the festival a little on the slow side! Car Crash is the kind of band where you just feel like headbanging while yelling 'GO GO GO GO GO!" and maybe even drooling a little out of the side of your mouth but not caring who sees. The trio kicked off the musical mood just right.

(Click on the photos to enlarge and click on the Flickr set links for more!)

Next up on Gone Shrimpn was Vertigo, promising another cool high-energy screamer, but...well, poor Vertigo. Quickly into their set, their guitarist broke a string and had no replacement. Eventually, another guitar was located and they began again, but...the drum set cymbals went all inverted and had to be reset. Their vocalist, dressed smartly in all white, seemed to be distressed by all the photographers and held out his hand to block himself from shots. Shortly thereafter, he grabbed his drink and bag and took off, leaving his rather bemused/flummoxed bandmates to sit there wondering what to do. It became clear he was not to return and they could not continue without him so, that was that. It must've been a very disappointing experience after "a seven-hour drive to get there."

I tried to find you a link for their music but there are so many bands named Vertigo. I'm sorry.

The party mood returned quickly with the original pizza slops, bustin' chops, hot-shots kinda guys, Personal and the Pizzas! A Personal and the Pizzas show is not a predictable affair. Things happen, ya see, and ya better keep your eyes open and your head up if you know what's what! To wit, along with the Ramones-flavored barfly brawl rock n' roll, on this day the crowd was treated to professionally flung slices of pizza and an exhibition of Tomato Baseball. This is the essential spirit of the Burger Boogaloo.

After a quick wipe-off of tomato seeds and juice, I walked over to the grand Butt City stage to see Los Angeles quintet, Wounded Lion. Do yourself a favor and don't Google "Wounded Lion," unless you want to cry your little eyes out seeing photos of actual wounded lions, OK? It's safe to click on the link here, though, and you should click on it because Wounded Lion is quite nifty. Do you know what these guys can do? They each can (and do) PLAY EVERY INSTRUMENT! I can kind of imagine how this might've come about, maybe rehearsing a new song and one of them goes, "Yeah no, you need to play it this way, no not like that, no wait that's not...OH FER CHRISSAKES JUST LET ME PLAY IT MYSELF ALREADY!" Perhaps in a more amiable way, though, because Wounded Lion's songs are quite pithy and fun and really not at all laden with scrappy drama such as I have described. Mostly.

Squint your beady eyes to see Friend of Popthomology Lars Finberg just stoked to go onstage! He played drums AND guitar! I was very happy to finally see Wounded Lion and you were, too, if you were there.

Time to hustle back over to the Gone Shrimpn stage for Baby Shakes! The NYC-based quartet treated the enthusiastic assembled to their power-poppy crunchy glam punk. I might note that they are much better looking than Slade, one of their musical influences. Sorry, Noddy, it's true.

Baby Shakes were super-fun and I think you would put a smile on your face by checking out their brand-new album, Turn It Up! Eight bucks is a deal, c'mon, cough it up already!

Baby Shakes, Burger Boogaloo 2017, Oakland, CA. 7/1/17 Flickr set link

Back over at Butt City, I find myself personally offended by myself that in 15 years I never got Th' Losin' Streaks on my radar. Oh man, were they good! Just the perfect combo of the '60s-style filthy garage rock that I live for, bang-up wild performance antics, and diversión máxima! I think the only thing they could've done to please me more would have been to bring me a fruit and cheese plate and a cuddly kitten at the end of the set. One doesn't want to get greedy, though.

Their set was too short. I could've watched them forever.

Their "Sounds of Violence" album on Slovenly Records is superb. Don't be a dunderhead like me, DIG NOW!

I had been lucky enough to see Bloodshot Bill play in Miami a few years ago, where I was impressed by his crazy-man-crazy rockabilly swamp rock -- so much so that I hung back a little because I thought he was literally going to explode in a bug-eyed twangsplosion before my eyes. But he lived, as did I, and I was so pleased to see him again, carrying on rock n' roll's earliest nutty traditions with style.

Bloodshot Bill, Burger Boogaloo 2017, Oakland, CA. 7/1/17 Flickr set link

I was giddy, gleeful, and grinning, skipping back towards the Butt City stage to once again see the highly-entertaining Redd Kross. Well, OK, I did not "skip" so much as "lumber" with my Camera Bag O' Misery, but I want to impress upon you how truly happy I was. I hadn't seen the band since they were at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival awhile back, and I can vividly remember having a bit of trouble photographing them because I couldn't stop smiling and dancing for long! Redd Kross is a DAMN NATIONAL TREASURE and I want you to repeat that with your hand over your heart every morning!

What a trip these guys have been on, starting up nearly 40 (yes, 40) years ago, taking an extended break of almost ten years, and coming back with such heart and professionalism that you'd never guess they'd been gone. They get it. They know how to balance all the bits and pieces of the best of rock 'n roll while leaving the crap parts of it in the dustbin. They know how to put on a show of a lifetime, every night. Which is exactly what they did at the Boogaloo -- what a gas to take a moment from my camera to watch the faces of the fans next to me! None more radiant.

Redd Kross loves music and loves you. This I know from the bottom of my heart. They are my people. 

You'd think one would take a break right about now, huh? NO! NEVER! Time to hop on over to Gone Shrimpn for NOBUNNY! By the time I got there it was jam packed with dirty rabbits ready to multiply, grateful for a little shade and some carrots. 

Please imagine trying to explain the wonder of NOBUNNY to, say, your Grandma Nelda: 

"Well, see Gram, it's this guy who comes out in just black briefs and a torn-up tiny moto jacket, wearing a really grimy bunny mask that looks like it was ripped off the corpse of the Trix rabbit. Then he and his band who are also bunnies play really fast, short punk songs like "Assholes," and all the girls in the crowd make goo-goo eyes at NOBUNNY Justin."

"That sounds just awful! Why, in my day..."

"See ya Gram, gotta go!" ~~whoosh~~

Some things are just meant to be experienced.

With the sun starting to lower, strange things began to happen over on the Butt City stage. Holy reptiles, its a trio of leather-clad Godzillas getting ready to destroy the world!!! Noooooooo! THEY'RE DRINKING ALL THE PABST!!!!

Wait a minute...oh, WHEW, it's only Guitar Wolf!



Don't doubt my sincere exclamations!!! Guitar Wolf, who has been destroying world stages for 30 years now, is no one to dismiss!!! Hailing from Japan, like our friends Car Crash earlier in the post, he takes no quarter. There will be relentless shredding, there will be manic screamed vocals, there will be none more loud, and none more dedicated to rock 'n roll! JOIN OR DIE!!!

Guitar Wolf, Burger Boogaloo 2017, Oakland, CA. 7/1/17 Flickr set

The best part of Guitar Wolf's show is when he pulls an audience member up from the crush of the crowd, hands him (or her) his very own guitar, and attempts to tell them how to play it while he sings. This is always amusing. Some people know how to play, some don't. This guy had a pretty, pretty, pretty great time.

This guy did too!

Hi Marcos!

As evening began, the crowd swelled to see our Day One headliner on Butt City...the incomparable Iggy Pop. Let me make that more clear:


And in front of this nice family, too.

I had recently seen Iggy and Josh Homme on their Post-Pop Depression tour in Seattle. It was superb. However, I was fairly far away from the stage and did not put in an ask to photograph. Here at the Boogaloo, I could not be closer, I have TWO CAMERAS, and I am ready ready ready to rock n' roll with a man I admire utterly. He is one of the architects of punk rock, before punk was punk and way before it was even remotely cool. But that's not everything that makes him so special, not even close. He's smart, he's interesting, he's supportive of other musicians, he's lived through the scariest drugged-up rock years in amazingly great shape, he has a marvelous sense of humor, he's a thoughtful and talented writer, and at 70 years old still performs like the wild 20-year-old he was when he began with the Stooges. 

Seeing Iggy is a big deal.

As John Waters gave him a soul-stirring, fabulous intro and as the crowd started whooping and moving like thousands of snakes in the sea, I steadied myself and watched him gear up for his entrance. Amazing.

As the band slammed into "I Wanna Be Your Dog," Iggy ran around the stage so fast I had to use all my photographic effort just to catch some shots as he would turn my way. OH man, it all sounded SO GOOD!!!

And then as the song ended, at about 3 minutes into the show, I had the unfortunate luck to find myself pinned between a collapsed fence, the stage, and a lighting tower. I will forever be thankful to the security team at this festival, along with Chuck Ribak and a man whose name I never got, who worked so quickly and compassionately to help me and get me seen by the medics onsite. Hey, it's not every day you get to take down your pants a few feet away from John Waters! (I got an icepack for bruising and rested and was able to continue working the festival the next day, albeit slowly!) 

I couldn't keep shooting, so I very slowly and very, very, very sadly hobbled over to where most of the bands were watching the show, a quiet area further from the stage, tears just running down my face in great flowing streams. Then, more of the Boogaloo magic happened, which is the true core to this festival and why we do what we do for this music, which people outside of our oddball community might not understand.

My aforementioned stoked pal Lars saw me, got me a chair, and crouched down next to me for a long time and calmed me down and made me laugh and had me sing along to "No Fun." My friend Johnny carried my bag and gave me a ride back to Berkeley and gave me some great coffee he roasted. I didn't get more than ten photos of Iggy, I didn't get to stay close to the stage or even see more than a few minutes of the show, and I got banged up, but the night ended pretty darn good anyhow, because we help each other, we punks. We do.

Stay tuned! Day Two of Burger Boogaloo will arrive on this site, soon!