This year's Burgerama festival lineup is as impressive, and unexpected (Weezer?!), as ever. We know you're already stoked to see FIDLAR, Ty Segall, Ariel Pink and Thee Oh Sees, but here are our picks for best of the rest: the rare appearances from bands you definitely shouldn't miss, and bands that might not be on your radar yet, but are about to blow up.
Gang of Four
One of the most important and innovative rock outfits of the last four decades, Gang of Four come to Burgerama to play its first round of shows in Southern California since 2011. On the heels of last month's What Happens Next, the ninth album from the infamous U.K. post-punk outfit, featuring rock goddess Alison Mosshart (The Kills/The Dead Weather), Gang of Four will have some brand-new funk-punk tracks for fans to get down to. (Saturday)
Inarguably one of the most talented and prolific DJs, producers and rappers since the 1990s, Madlib has left his imprint on the works of artist across an array of genres, from his work as Quasimoto and with Lootpack on Stones Throw Records, to collaborations with J Dilla and MF Doom, to a project called Yesterdays New Quintet, a “five-piece” jazz/hip-hop/electronic act that could more accurately be described as a one-piece, since Madlib played each instrument in the band under various alter egos. With 2014's Piñata featuring MC Freddie Gibbs earning international acclaim as one of the best hip-hop albums of the year, Madlib's material, new and old, promises to make for a stellar performance. (Saturday)
When you add Hinds to your music collection (which we know you will), file them between the Velvet Underground and the Vivian Girls. Formerly known as Deers, the all-female Spanish band came together after founding members Ana Garcia Perrote and Carlotta Cosials discovered both of their boyfriends cheated on them. Now they're one of the buzziest bands blowing up the Internet, with just four songs — one of which was recorded on a cell phone. How's that for sweet revenge? At any rate, Hinds isn't going to be a small print band for long, so catch them before they move on to bigger and more expensive venues. (Saturday)
Joseph Donald Mascis, Jr., isn't just the leader of iconic indie rock outfit Dinosaur Jr., he's also been ranked amongst the greatest 100 guitarists of all time by both Spin and Rolling Stone, and proven to be a steadfast solo artist as well. Catch his softer, acoustic side when he performs just as J Mascis, and if that's just not hard enough — we know how much you like to mosh — catch him drumming with heavy metal act Witch. (Sunday)
Shannon and the Clams
If “See Shannon and the Clams live” isn't on your bucket list, you need to put it there, and you need to check it off as quickly as possible. Luckily, now's your chance. The punky doo-wop act led by Shannon Shaw (who is also a member of local favorite, queercore group Hunx and his Punx) are notorious for putting on a good show — at last year's all-female festival, Burger a-Go-Go, the band brought out a cast of ghosts and welcomed concertgoers to dance alongside them on stage. Who knows what's next? (Sunday)
If nearly naked antics are your thing, then No Parents should definitely be on your radar. Frontman Zoe Reign is known for taking his clothes off during No Parents' sets — well, if he was even wearing them to begin with. This garage punk act doesn't hold back from making the audience part of the show, mounting on fans' shoulders, kissing whomever gets close enough, and instigating a mosh pit before the first song's chorus even starts. As newcomers on the L.A. underground scene, No Parents turned backyard parties into fence-climbing, garage-roof-jumping riots. Now that they've joined the festival circuit, they show no signs of slowing down. (Saturday)
Broncho is the kind of band that will make you catch yourself singing “doot-doot-doot-doot-doot-doot” in public before you even realize what you're doing. Just listen to “Class Historian” above; we dare you not to get hooked on that melody. The song epitomizes how endearing indie rock can be — brimming with just the right amount of rose-tinged nostalgia, so much so that you could equally imagine it in the end credits of a John Hughes or Wes Anderson high school story. But while Broncho has mastered the romantic-cinematic vibe, tracks like “Taj Mahal” and “It's On” (which was featured in Season 3 of Girls) reveal a crunchier, heavier side that finds a perfect venue at this year's Burgerama. (Saturday)
In case you've missed Palma Violets while they've been busy blowing the heck up in the U.K., now's your chance. The band's first single “Best of Friends” was voted as NME's song of the year when they first emerged on the scene in 2012, with a steady slew of nominations for “Best New Band” and “Best Live Act” and a deal with Rough Trade Records following close behind. The alt-indie outfit plays two shows in Southern California (one of which is sold out) ahead of the release of their sophomore album, Danger in the Club (out May 5). They have no other SoCal dates announced for 2015 so far, so do everything in your power to make sure you see them at this year's Burgerama. (Saturday)
Look, even though Weezer seems like a bit of an odd fit for a lo-fi, grungy, garage-rock festival, we all know that the entire audience is going to rush to the sound of “Undone – The Sweater Song.” If you can't make it to the front, don't fret, because you'll still have a chance to taste some Weezer greatness with The Relationship. Headed by Weezer rhythm guitarist Brian Bell, The Relationship also features Nate Shaw, formerly of O.C. punk rock act U.S. Bombs, Albert Hammond, Jr.'s songwriting partner Jon LaRue, and Anthony Burulcich, drummer for Morrissey and The Bravery. (Saturday)
When Melbourne foursome Twerps formed in 2008, they were deemed the “best new band in Australia” on the strength of their debut EP alone. Now Twerps are reminding everyone why they fell in love with indie guitar rock in the first place. Range Anxiety, out this January, is charming and unembellished, though its simplicity is anything but lost in a sea of bands that can come off as trying just a little too hard. We're all for innovation and originality, but sometimes you just gotta go for the tested-and-true good stuff, the kind of stuff Twerps delivers on. (Sunday)
Burgerama 4 takes place Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, at the Observatory in Santa Ana. Single-day tickets and two-day passes available here.
Like us on Facebook at LAWeeklyMusic
Follow Artemis Thomas-Hansard
Shitty Band Names: A History
The 10 Best Record Stores in L.A.
Top 20 Musicians of All Time, in Any Genre