Black Lips. Photo Credit: Zach Wolfe
Photo Credit: Zach Wolfe

During their uproarious 16-year existence, the Black Lips have played on six different continents — a journey that has brought them to exotic (and dangerous) locations that most groups wouldn’t dream of visiting, let alone include in their tour plans.

The group has also graced premier billing spots at numerous festivals, and ignited unforgettable crowd reactions with their unpredictable live shows (go on You Tube and look up “Black Lips play Heaven.”)

There is very little that the Black Lips haven’t seen or done.

Yet even with that cache of indelible memories, Black Lips bassist/vocalist Jared Swilley said no performance has excited him more than the upcoming Burger Boogaloo, a two-day event in Oakland that the group will headline on Sunday, July 5.

“There has never been a music festival that more encapsulates who the Black Lips are,” said Swilley, who is one of four songwriters of the Atlanta-based “flower-punk” group. “I’m so incredibly excited to play at this festival. It’s going to be an absolutely amazing time.”

Staged by Burger Records, a Southern California-based record label that specializes in packaging cassette tapes, the festival features an array of bands that offer the same pastiche of surf-rock, rockabilly and garage rock that the Black Lips have perfected over the years. Trailblazing 80s bands like the Mummies, the Gories and the Pandoras will play alongside contemporary acts like Fuzz, Shannon and the Clams, and King Khan and the BBQ Show. The festival will take place at Mosswood Park in Oakland.

“Not only are these bands that I admire so much and who share the same exact aesthetics as the Black Lips, but they’re also some of my closest friends,” said Swilley, who added that he has never seen the Mummies or the Gories perform live before, despite being a huge fan of the acts. “I mean, if the Black Lips were duplicated as a second group, we’d be King Khan and the BBQ. I didn’t graduate from high school, so I’m not invited back to any reunions. This will be our high school reunion.”

Swilley said he’s particularly excited that John Waters, the provocative director behind the creations of gross-out classics like Pink Flamingos and Polyester, will be hosting the event.

“John Waters is definitely one of my favorite directors of all time,” said Swilley. “To put out Pink Flamingos in 1972, and be this confident gay man at the time was incredibly brave and rebellious. I don’t really view what Caitlyn Jenner is doing as rebellious or brave when you compare her to someone like John Waters. He’s just a legitimate weirdo, and that’s why we admire him so much, because that’s who we are: legitimate weirdos.”

On the subject of legitimate weirdos, the Black Lips recently announced a joint tour with avowed oddball Ariel Pink, a jaunt that includes two stops at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco on October 13 and 14. Following that, Swilley said the band hopes to decamp to the studio to record their eighth album and first since 2014’s excellent Underneath the Rainbow. Fellow Atlanta resident Bradford Cox, known mostly for his work in Deerhunter, will produce the album, said Swilley.

Once that project is completed, the Black Lips will likely get back out on the road again, as the group tends to gets antsy when they’re locked in one spot for too long. They still yearn to be the first band to perform on all seven continents, an honor that is nominally claimed by Metallica but one that Swilley disputes.

“I have it from some good sources that Metallica heard about our plans to play in Antarctica so they decided to have a show there,” said Swilley. “But they were playing on some boat off the coast and everyone was wearing like silent disco headphones. When we play in Antarctica, we’ll be on the land and we’ll make it legitimate. We’ll sail a Clipper ship from Tierra del Fuego like the old-timers if we have to.”

Until that polar excursion is fully fleshed out, the Black Lips will focus their attention to their upcoming shows, notably Burger Boogaloo.

“All I know is that whoever comes to this festival is going to have a great time,” said Swilley. “You couldn’t ask for a better collection of musicians.”

Burger Boogaloo
Mosswood Park, Oakland
July 4 & 5, 2015
$69 for two-day GA ticket

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