The third annual Bröötal Sun Fest and a showcase from Burger Records converge on Tucson this weekend, with 65 local and national bands crammed into four days and nights of shows, most of them downtown.
Logan Greene, the self-described "main instigator" of Bröötal Sun, says the all-ages festival is tailored to be a tight-knit gathering between bands and fans, with fun and goofy interludes throughout.
"We were trying to create a festival that's all-ages, not-for-profit and a fun event that brings together a lot of talented bands from around the country," Greene says. "We're really excited to create something that's totally our thing, and we don't need to have a big-name band as a solid headliner."
Touring with his band Doctor Dinosaur in 2009, Greene played the Crucial Fun Fest in Lexington, Ky., and borrowed the format for Tucson. The comfortable, friendly vibe of a smaller, all-ages event is a draw in itself for the bands.
"With bands I've been in, it's our goal to play festivals like this," he says. "For a lot of these bands, they're on the DIY ethic and really want a smaller, closer audience. We'd rather sell out a small venue than do a medium-sized show at a larger venue."
With about two-thirds of the festival's bands coming from out of town, Bröötal Sun manages to capture a lot of bands that are heading to Austin's SXSW festival. While the first two years featured bands that Greene or one of the other organizers know personally, the word has spread enough that this year, the members of several bands that will be playing have never met the Bröötal Sun team.
"We're excited to bring out some new people and let them experience our community and our scene here," Greene says. "We know what we want and had to figure out how to make it work. It seems like a success now."
Though Bröötal Sun is put together as an egalitarian festival without "headliners," Greene says several bigger names will help boost the crowd for all the bands. Among the bands he's most excited about are the David Liebe Hart Band (from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!), TS and the Past Haunts (featuring Travis Shettel of the SideOneDummy band Piebald), Seth Olinsky of Akron/Family, Treasure Mammal, and Rafter (on Asthmatic Kitty Records).
"It's a really mixed bag, from really dance-y bands, to really ambient bands, to really weird bands, to everything in between," Greene says. "If you don't feel fatigued, we didn't do our job."
With no green room or backstage, the line between audience and band gets blurred, and the other activities—like a slam-dunk contest—add to the fun. With so many bands, especially ones new to Tucson, Greene has simple advice for anyone who's curious about Bröötal Sun.
"Pick a band, and just take five minutes, and look up a song on YouTube," Greene says. "If people spend a little bit of time doing research, they'll be hooked. It's not everybody's thing, but those who could be interested should check out some of the bands."
The Burger Records Showcase at La Cocina comes from Isaac Reyes of Lenguas Largas and Shark Pants. More than a decade ago, Reyes met like-minded touring musicians Sean Bohrman and Lee Noise, who would later form Thee Makeout Party and start Burger Records.
"Every time a band from Southern California came to town, they'd always tag along," Reyes says. "They've always had a good thing with us, because we're the same, basically. It's just a love of rock 'n' roll."
Fullerton, Calif.-based-Burger Records started in 2007 as a way for Bohrman and Noise to release tapes of the bands they like. But the label grew and grew, releasing cassettes of bands like the Black Lips, Nobunny, Harlem, Hunx and His Punx, Ty Segall, La Sera and Mikal Cronin.
"They're so well-loved as people wherever they go that whenever they ask me to do something, I'll do it," Reyes says.
Now, Lenguas Largas is joining the fold, with a cassette of the band's 2011 debut LP coming out on Burger Records, with two bonus songs.
"All of my bands, we've always been with Burger, before it was even a label," Reyes says. "Now they're kind of blowing up, and it's a good feeling."
The Burger Records Showcase triples as a Lenguas Largas release party, a long-awaited return performance by the Resonars (a Tucson power-pop band with albums being reissued by Burger Records) and a pre-SXSW tuneup for the Burger bands. Oh, and it's a great party, too.
Friday's lineup features Lenguas Largas, Otherly Love, Pangea, Audacity, Lowly Bad Things and Salsa Chips. Saturday's bands are the Resonars, Acorn Bcorn, Cosmonauts, Feeding People, Tomorrows Tulips and Sam Flax. The bands will be set up on two stages to minimize the break times.
The Resonars, the local 1990s band of Matt Rendon, will return to perform, with Burger reissues of Bright and Dark and That Evil Drone sparking a renewed interest in the band. Rendon recently estimated that the Resonars haven't performed live in 16 years.
"The Burger dudes really love Matt. As a treat for them, I called Matt and asked if he would be interested in doing a Resonars set," Reyes says. "It's like a new beginning."
Reyes says he's thrilled to strengthen his band's and Tucson's alignment with Burger Records, which has a purity of interest and a track record of great releases that have drawn the eye of larger labels like Hardly Art and Sub Pop.
"Their taste in music is so good, whenever something is on Burger, I know it's going to be awesome. They're like a scout label, and they've been doing it forever," Reyes says. "They're not just limited by what's cool or hip at the moment. It's just their love of rock 'n' roll."