On a cold and rainy day in Long Beach, Burger Records and company took over a Long Beach institution, Alex’s Bar, for the final weekend of their Burger-A-GoGo tour. This all-female-fronted lineup drew quite a crowd — with night one of the weekend noticeably more punk rock than night two, perhaps the audience at Alex’s Bar will differ greatly each night.
The Coathangers drew quite a crowd to this tour, as a line began forming right at 8:00 p.m. and non-ticket-holders had to wait to be given entry. Around 9:00 p.m. Los Angeles-based garage and punk rock band Feels took the stage to an already-packed Alex’s Bar. The small and relatively low stage would make for an intimate show that was expected to be fully a packed towards the end of the night. They played a mix of songs from their debut 2016 album Feels and newer ones as well. They opened with “Tell Me,” and immediately engaged the crowd with the wailing guitar intro and driving bass beat. More punk-forward songs like “Unicorn” had the crowd nodding their heads up and down. The three women never stopped moving around on stage, often headbanging and swinging their guitars around in punk fashion. They closed the set with the screeching “Close My Eyes,” an upbeat, more melodic-driven garage rock song, and left the stage with the crowd wanting more.
The second female-fronted garage rock act The Flytraps took the stage next and played what felt like the shortest set of the night. They opened with the punk-forward “Female of the Species” and “All Talk” featured a wailing fast-paced guitar solo from the lead guitarist that showed both skill and attitude. The three women all donned black biker glam-rock outfits that matched their heavy, fast sound. The crowd was left wanting more, but the schedule was already running behind so their set was unfortunately cut short.
Death Valley Girls wasted no time setting up and diving right into their heavy hard rock sounds. The set opened with a driving drum beat and some guitar noise that got the crowd hyped up. Singer Bonnie Bloomgarden often addressed the crowd between songs, usually in a screeching stream-of-consciousness; “it feels good to touch it, but I’m not supposed to talk about it,” she said mysteriously before they played the popular “Death Valley Boogie.” The crowd danced around enthusiastically and the bass player got into the audience, Bonnie following suit. What really stood out about their performance was how much fun they seemed to have playing together and being on the tour. The bassist gave a quick shout out to Mad Alchemist for providing the trippy stage lighting projections, and gushed about how great the tour has been. They dove into a newer song “Street Justice” before Bonnie addressed the crowd some more, sharing about how this tour has been like a dream she never thought would happen (and noticeably did not want to end). The conversation took a turn into a Miller High Life ad, as Bonnie shared something to the extent of “can we get some more of these? This shit is bomb…we need some for our friends!” “The champagne of beers!” The crowd responded by laughing and cheering as Bonnie held two High Life’s above her head. “If being a man is cool, then I’m a man too” she said to open their next song “I’m a Man Too.” They closed their set with a hint of sadness as Bonnie shared “so sad it’s the last time I’ll see The Coathangers!”
The headlining act, The Coathangers took the stage to a tightly packed Alex’s Bar and singer Julia Kugel addressed the cheering crowd, “It’s the last leg of our tour, let’s have a good time!” They dove right into their long list of short songs, and the crowd grew rowdier and rowdier as the set went on. They opened the set with the driving and screech-y “Watch Your Back,” and by the time they transitioned into the next song, the fast-paced “Dumb Baby,” the whole crowd was bouncing along to the rhythm. Everyone sang along to “Captain’s Dead” and band members from the previous acts Feels and Death Valley Girls could be spotted in the audience joining in on the raucousness. They performed a new song, “Stranger Danger,” which had the crowd headbanging along. But for “Make It Right,” a full mosh pit formed in the center of the audience that would continue through the end of the set. The band members switched instruments a couple times as well, giving a full rotation on drumming and vocals. In true punk DIY fashion, the band members didn’t necessarily sound together or in tune with each other most of the time, but that didn’t seem to deter the audience, who fed off the band’s attitude and energy. For one of their final songs, “Squeeki Tiki,” the band brought squeaky toys on stage and were joined by other band members from the opening acts who squeaked along with their toys, eventually throwing them to the audience.
With the bands all coming together at the end of the show to play with and support each other, it was clear that this tour had built a strong, tight-knit community during their travels and performances. The air (and several ears) were buzzing from the energetic performances. The stage projections from Mad Alchemy kept the performance visuals entertaining, as they mixed alcohol, oil and colorful dyes to achieve a trippy, psychedelic visual display that was ever-changing. It was around 12:45 when the show was wrapping up, and several people were lingering in conversation and excitement. Let’s hope that day two of Burger-A-GoGo is just as filled with energy as Day One was!
Photo credit: Ilana Tel-Oren