Burger Records debuted a new festival on Saturday at the Observatory in Santa Ana. Called Burger a-go-go, it featured 35 female-driven acts.
The presumed target demographic was that teenage girl with a Burger Records button on her backpack, somehow led to believe that a girl can't be a punk rocker. It was about the look in her eyes, as her pupils expanded in euphoric release, watching the Coathangers belt out primal yells and karate kicks, or watching Colleen Green (clad in a t-shirt with "FEMALE" written across her chest) playing a distorted bud-leaf-bass guitar.
That said, it was a blast for everyone who attended.
Everywhere you turned, there was controlled chaos. Say, someone hurling their body off the stage while Allie Hanlon from Peach Kelli Pop yelled: "yeah, yeah, yeah...YEAH!" When she played "Panchito Blues ii," the main room turned into a '50s prom overrun by a mob of Japanese punks using Skittles as projectiles.
The packed Observatory also paid witness to Katy Goodman of La Sera, as she stepped up to the edge of the stage during "Running Wild" and strummed her shiny P-Bass, swinging her red hair around, and looking over at Todd Wisenbaker ripping a solo. Then, Shannon Shaw (of Shannon and the Clams) absolutely floored the audience with her growling doo-wop vocals, the same way she floored Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls years before at a living room performance in the Bay Area. The festival was about artists inspiring other artists, and in the process, influencing a new generation of bands like Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast, and Bleached.
"I remember seeing F-Minus at the Glass House and realizing I could start a punk band," said Jennifer Clavin of Bleached, taking a swig of whiskey backstage following their set. Bleached surely inspired some people themselves, perhaps during their crunchy version of "For the Feel," which had everyone pogoing in spastic convulsions.
Melissa Brooks performed some of her solo material during her set with her group the Aquadolls, which sounded like glittery pop accessible enough to one day land her on the Billboard Top 40.
Dee Dee, meanwhile, represented, perhaps, the evening's the brightest star, through her smooth as silk stage presence. As she sang "Rimbaud Eyes," she stared at members of the audience like a lioness eyeing her prey.
Dee Dee, a headliner along with Best Coast and Bleached, wasn't quite as mischievous as the Clavin sisters; she's more Patti Smith than Dottie Danger. During her set—following eight months of polishing her vocals in support of Too True—her voice soared like a sleek-black Kawasaki motorbike.
"I always wanted to play music, and a significant push for me to do it was direct inspiration from strong female musicians," she told us backstage. Wearing all black, she sported a button with the title of a Terry Malts song, "No Sir, I'm Not a Christian." For Dee Dee, it's an homage to a lyric from Patti Smith, Dee Dee's biggest musical inspiration: "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine."
"It's super cool to be involved in something like this," said Dee Dee. "I recognize the significance of what's happening here, and if our band can inspire anyone to do something on their own, that's the biggest success we can have."
Atlanta's Coathangers weren't there to make a profound statement, but rather to party. They tossed an inflatable alien into the crowd, while drummer Stephanie Luke (aka Rusty Coathanger) piledrove her drums and exchanged singing duties with guitarist Julia Kugel (aka Crook Kid Coathanger), who closed the set by howling into two microphones rabidly. While wielding her guitar, Kugel attacked her instrument, throwing the crowd into a frenzy with her forceful playing and screeching vocals.
Best Coast closed the show brilliantly, even playing a new song, "Feeling Okay," an earworm with an epic power-pop chorus. They had seven different guitars being used throughout the performance, and an inflatable palm tree swaying to the California crunch off Bobb Burno's guitar.
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To close their set, Bethany Cosentino put down her guitar and performed a cover of Blink 182's "Dammit," and threw the inflatable palm tree into the crowd. Everyone was into the classic '90s hit and beachy vibe. Girls and boys alike.
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