If you slap the names Iggy Pop and John Waters on your lineup, you’re guaranteed to bring in the crowd. And many came to Burger Boogaloo during the first weekend of July. The small, rock-centric two-day event in Oakland stood out from the ocean of festivals not only because of its guitar-ripping lineup, but with its easygoing atmosphere. Sure, music festivals are about parties, but they could also come with plenty of potential for stressing factors like long lines, lack of organization and safety hazards. But at Burger Boogaloo, none of them seemed to be problematic. Hosted by the cinema of transgression auteur, John Waters, Burger Boogaloo welcomed the weirdos, the misfits and all who cannot be neatly categorized.
The gates opened at high noon with the first three acts of each day taking place on the smaller Gone Shrimpn stage. With blown-up legs in heels, a giant shrimp tail and a pink shell-like inflatable, it was as kitschy as a Waters film set. The host explained to the crowd that the design was a reference to “shrimping”— slang for toe sucking (pretty tame compared to some of his controversial movies). Japanese punk rockers Car Crash kicked off the music program shortly after 12. The screeching energy continued with Vertigo. Then it became a bit more theatrical with Personal & The Pizzas. And yes, they came with boxes of pizza and boiled tomatoes, which they threw into the crowd.
LA’s Wounded Lion were the first dabbers over at the Butt City stage. They looked pretty tame in their everyday wear but once the amps blared, it was hard to keep up with Jun Ohnuki and Raffi Kalenderian as they took on multiple roles all over the stage. The female-led power pop quartet Baby Shakes had the audience head bopping. The 50s-inspired punk continued at Gone Shrimpn stage with Bloodshot Bill, while veterans Redd Kross somehow felt the most tame of Saturday’s program.
But everyone who packed into the park was most likely there because of Iggy Pop. While they waited, though, Guitar Wolf turned out to be a blast. The self-proclaimed greatest “jet” rock n' roll band entered the stage donning dinosaur-inspired masks. Frontman Seiji quenched a mohawked lizard head with a can of PBR before revealing his obsidian hair. Bassist U.G. was clearly the attention grabber with his boyish good looks, frequently revealing his tongue and immersing himself in the crowd. The high-octane trio added even more fuel to their fantastic show when Seiji pulled an audience member onto the stage and appointed him a temporary guitarist. Based on the man's deadpan face, it wasn't clear if this was a prearranged stunt or not.
By the time Waters came out to introduce the “godfather of punk,” women with their preteen daughters managed to make their way to the front. Just as our foul-mouthed host concluded: “All you filth balls and trashcans get on your knees and worship our leader, Iggy Pop!” the man himself leapt into our vista with energy that belied his 70 years. Launching into The Stooges’ classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” the shirtless icon followed it up with “Gimme Danger.” The legendary rocker gave the attendees what they wanted—an unadulterated primal punk-o-rama, stage diving with numbers like “The Passenger,” “Repo Man” and “Lust for Life” and shutting down the day with “Real Wild Child (Wild One).”