Lo-fi rock-and-roll may be something of a flavor du jour in indie rock right now, but the Bay Area's been creating great garage-influenced bands for years. Garage rock groups past and present converge at Thee Parkside, Bottom of the Hill and The Eagle this weekend for the eighth installment of the Budget Rock Festival. This year's festival features the latest reunion performances from the "Kings of Budget Rock," SF garage punk pioneers The Mummies. The band, whose members perform in full mummy wrappings, released a number of ultra-low-fidelity recordings in the early '90s, and their enduring influence on lo-fi is perceptible today.
Brothers Clayton and Jeremiah McIntyre and drummer-keyboardist Danny Goldberg form The Box Elders, an Omaha trio whose debut 7" Hole in My Head was a shambling, ultra-catchy piece of "cave pop." That song's also a highlight on their debut full length, Alice and Friends. The album, released in August on Goner Records, is a collection of poppy lo-fi rock recorded by the band on an 8-track in their basement. They'll be joined at Thee Parkside by Impediments, a Bay Area band comprised principally of 18-year-olds, although you wouldn't know it from their '70s-inspired swaggering rock/punk. The band's debut just came out on Happy Parts Recordings.
There's something of a pizza renaissance going on in rock-and-roll right now, and Budget Rock is uniting Personal & the Pizzas, Johnny and the Limelites (who released a with a Pizza Party 7" and hail from "Deep Dish, Illinois"), and Sacramento's The Pizzas for an afternoon show at Thee Parkside. After the bands whet the audience's appetite for pies, there will be a pizza eating contest, courtesy of Escape from New York Pizza. I firmly believe that SF pizza holds its own compared to the New York slice, and the Bay Area's Personal & the Pizzas are worthy heirs to The Ramones' dumb-but-charming garage pop. The band claims to be from Hoboken, but that's as bogus as their feigned stupidity. Still, the latter does make for some great interviews and definitely adds to the fun.
Other highlights, and there look to be many, include the latest reunion performance by Oakland psych masters The Gris Gris, playing alongside The Fresh & Onlys, whose Grey-Eyed Girls is one of my favorite 2009 releases, and Dan Melchior. Melchior began in London, and collaborated with Billy Childish and Holly Golightly before moving to the US, where his interests have expanded into more freewheeling, experimental terrain. Top that show off with Thee Oh Sees, and you've got one hell of a bill.
Ben Van Houten is the Programming Director for The Bay Bridged.