Friday, July 16

Burger Records is a label out of California that is bringing back the cassette as a way of getting new music into the hands of die-hard rock fans—and to people with an extra $10 to spend on a tape deck at the thrift store. The $5 cassette is apparently alive and well, and still punk.

As part of a caravan tour that had various bands on the label joining in on alternating legs, three of Burger's recent acquisitions came through Tucson last Friday. The merchandise spread across the Red Room's resident piano included a couple of dozen tapes, ranging from new bands putting out their first recordings to established bands adding a new format for collectors. The door was propped open in a vain attempt to provide a reprieve from the heat, and people sauntering by caught a glimpse of a hot night of raw rock 'n' roll that spanned a range of '60s garage rock to '70s punk.

The show started with the Cosmonauts, a retro '60s-style guitar-rock quartet complete with vocal melodies and a 12-string guitar strapped to the lead vocalist. The Cosmonauts played a short set, and the second band, Cum Stain, climbed on right afterward and kept the show going with little pause. Cum Stain proved they were more than just a clever name, offering a set of songs reminiscent of the snottier end of late-'70s New York punk. The most anticipated band appeared to be Apache, who played Detroit-style rock 'n' roll in the vein of Mitch Ryder and the MC5, and didn't disappoint.

The three bands combined energy and efficiency. As it was the next-to-last night of the tour, and the air on Congress Street was stagnant and muggy, it is possible that they were all tired and wanted to get back on the road—but all three bands shared equipment (and members), burned brightly and then packed up.

Fundamentals. I love it. This was Burger's emerging-band roster, and all three groups proved that the label is putting out some of the best high-energy music around.

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