Pet rats and Pink Flamingos: How the Burger Boogaloo came to be

Ticketfly

Jun. 26, 2017

The story of the Burger Boogaloo—a two day punk, garage, and DIY rock festival in Oakland—is one of love, pet rats, and John Waters.

A collaboration between So Cal-based indie label Burger Records and Total Trash Productions founder/Rock N Roll Adventure Kids frontman Marcos, the festival is now in its eighth year. It returns to Oakland’s Mosswood Park July 1 and 2 with a legendary lineup stacked with iconic bands and artists: Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks, X, Guitar Wolf, Red Kross and NRBQ, to name a few. Younger acts such as Shannon and the Clams, Baby Shakes and Jacuzzi Boys round out the bill but still maintain a classic sound. Waters, the eccentric filmmaker nicknamed the Pope of Trash, will once again host the event.

It all started 10 years ago when Marcos, who organizes the Boogaloo, was asked by Burger Records co-founders Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard to play one of their events in San Francisco. From there, he started booking SXSW caravan tours for Burger Records bands with the Boogaloo being a return party of sorts.

“It started as punk rock bands just wanting to play shows,” Marcos says.

The first few Boogaloos were held in smaller venues in San Francisco such as The Knockout and Thee Parkside. But Marcos always had his sights set on Mosswood Park in Oakland.

“When our band was on tour and stuff, we’d always come back and hang out at Mosswood Park,” Marcos says. “There was this amphitheater there, and it just looked like a really fun place to have a punk rock or a rock and roll concert.”

A man of action, Marcos brought the Boogaloo to Mosswood Park in 2013. It’s grown ever since, attracting bigger names and bigger crowds. If you ask Marcos, the festival’s success is all about aesthetics.

“Honestly, I think it’s because the park is just really nice,” Marcos says. “I don’t really like going to events that have a lot of people at them. I share some commonalities with Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I try to make the event comfortable for everybody because I probably wouldn’t want to attend an event where you wouldn’t have enough space to just be with your friends and have your comfortable cozy spot in the corner. I think that might be one of the reasons the event is around: it’s comfortable and fun to be at.”

The lineup helps, too. “Sometimes we’ll hire somebody because we had a weird dream at night and they were playing at our event and I go, “That would be really cool,” Marcos says.

That’s where John Waters comes in.

According to Marcos, Waters not only plays a significant role in the festival, but was significant in his relationship with his girlfriend, Amy. On their first date, Amy invited him over to check out her pet rats. There, Marcos saw a bookshelf stocked with Waters’ films and suggested they watch his controversial 1972 flick Pink Flamingos. And then he dreamt a glorious dream.

John Waters and Traci Lords introduce the Mummies

“I was somewhere in the middle of the country … There was this huge windstorm and all these people in the middle of this cornfield and this freight train comes through … John Waters was on one the cars and he made an announcement, and a band started playing. There was this giant windstorm and you saw all these people in the crowd with fucked up teeth and their hair blowing around. I woke up and thought, It’d be cool to make something like that happen one day.”

As luck would have it, Marcos met Waters at an art exhibit later that year. He told him about that first date (“I heard that’s a great aphrodisiac,” Waters said of Pink Flamingos) and eventually got him to host the Boogaloo.

Now the Boogaloo has become a gathering for those who admire the eccentric, appreciate the DIY grit and live for a raucous punk show—just like Marcos.

“Last year, The Trashwomen were playing on the amphitheater stage and I went down through the back of the amphitheater and there were 20 or 30 people on stage. It almost seemed like a rock ‘n’ roll riot happening,” he says. “I get excited when I see people losing their shit.”

Buy tickets for the Burger Boogaloo featuring Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks, X and more here.

Photos by Lily Chou and Chris Anderson 

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