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Garage-rock festival hosts wild weekend party in Oakland

OAKLAND -- The beloved Bay Area garage-rock celebration Bargain Rock returns to action this weekend, hosting its three-day punk party at Classic Cars West in Oakland.

The spiritual successor to the 2000s institution Budget Rock that made its reputation presenting an array of past and present local trash-rock luminaries over the course of a sweaty, beer-soaked weekend at SF clubs, Bargain Rock has helped continue the legacy of the Bay Area's legendary garage-rock scene. Started in 2006 at underground Excelsior venue the Fabric Haus as a way for then new band the Teutonics to play a show (Ty Segall's group Traditional Fools had their first performance that night), Bargain Rock would eventually "go legit" move to Thee Parkside for a number of weekend garage-rock bacchanals featuring the likes of Rikk Agnew (Christian Death, D.I., the Adolescents) and the late former Flamin' Groovies singer Roy Loney and his band the Phantom Movers.

Bargain Rock 2022 flyer
Bargain Rock 2022 flyer. Bargain Rock

The eighth edition of the festival (the last one was held in pre-pandemic days of 2019), Bargain Rock 2022 was supposed to be at reopened Oakland venue Thee Stork Club, but the establishment has yet to get clearance from city officials to commence operations, leading the festival to move to nearby Classic Cars West. While Bargain Rock has been helmed by a variety of people, this year organizers Lou Lou Rosenthal, Ben Day and David Kurtz have taken the reins of the festival and will be performing with several bands. In addition to almost 20 bands on the venue's outdoor stage, Bargain Rock will feature multiple DJs, food provided by the Classic Cars West kitchen along with food trucks (Provecho on Friday, Aburaya Japanese Fried Chicken and Charlie Waffles Saturday and Cado's Gumbo Sunday) as well as a number of vendors selling vintage clothes and records Saturday.

Headlining on Friday night will be local favorites Hot Lunch. A force on Bay Area stages for going over 16 years, the band was founded by singer Eric Shea after the split of his potent retro-rock outfit Parchman Farm in 2006. Shea managed to put together an all-star quartet of talented players, including former Mensclub guitar hero Aaron Nudelman and the pulverizing rhythm section of drummer Rob Alper -- ex-The Sermon and The Fells (he also played guitar with Sacto garage-punks SLA and is currently with agit-protopunk band Very Paranoia) -- and bassist Charlie Karr, who was best known for his work with the Alternative Tentacles band (and Budget Rock regulars) Harold Ray Live in Concert.  

HOT LUNCH - She Wants More (official video) // HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records by HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS on YouTube

Unlike the many acts who often mimic the sonic template of cornerstone early '70s proto punk/metal bands like Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad and the MC5, Hot Lunch interwove elements of skate punk, psychedelia and prog rock to create their unique sound. Over the course of its career, the quartet has released a number of blistering singles and EPs in addition to a pair of acclaimed albums -- most recently their 2019 sophomore effort Seconds on Tee Pee Records. Despite Shea and Alper both relocating outside of the Bay Area in recent years (though the drummer is once again calling the region home), Hot Lunch continues to reform Voltron-like to storm stages here and abroad. Also appearing Friday will be Rosenthal and Kurtz's swampy roots punk collaboration Whateverglades, SF-based female garage trio West Cült (with members of Dirty Denim, the Custom Kicks and Fin del Mundo) and local punk Ajar. DJ Poindexter and Lightnin' Jeff G (The Fells, The Sermon, So What and performing Saturday with the Boars) play tunes between bands.

Topping the bill on Saturday will be one of the most iconic acts of the Bay Area's modern surf/trash/garage-rock scene, the Phantom Surfers. Founded in San Francisco in the late '80s, the masked marvels of twang stand alongside the Mummies and the Trashwomen (who the Surfers mentored and encouraged) as key groups that helped spearhead the local revival of retro guitar rock in the Bay Area during the '90s

Phantom Surfers - Live on the Mick Molloy Show - August 1999 (Melbourne, Australia) by socialfools on YouTube

While the band has self-deprecatingly referred to itself as the worst surf band of the '90s, the Phantom Surfers became firmly established as a noted international act, appearing on television in Australia and Argentina in addition to becoming a regular attraction on European tours and festival dates. Though their album The Phantom Surfers and Dick Dale did not in fact include the surf-guitar legend, the band has managed to perform and record with such instrumental rock giants as Link Wray and Davie Allan. Still anchored by founding guitarist Johnny "Big Hand" Bartlett, the current line-up of the group also includes longtime guitarist Maz Kattiah (also a member of the Mummies) and drummer/SF garage-rock institution Russell Quan (also in the Mummies and at least a half dozen other bands).

The Okmoniks - I'll Let You In | SilverCat Sound Labs Live @ The Complex Part 2 by SilverCat Sound Labs on YouTube

The Phantom Surfers take the stage after a whopping all-day garage-rock Iditarod of bands that include local reprobates Nauseaters, Slovenly Recordings band and garage-fest regulars the Okmoniks, scene stalwarts the Boars, '80s surf-rock tribute band Albacore (essentially another guise for the Phantom Surfers paying homage to the earlier surf revivalists who inspired the group), Ben Day's aforementioned band the Teutonics, Oakland punks the Vaxxines (featuring former members of Blatz, Gr'ups and the Criminals), garage R&B girl group Durty Whyte Boots and the debut performance of Check Please! (Bay Area), another new band from Kurtz that includes Erin McDermott (Dirty Ghosts, Top Ten), Harley Rother (Isaac Rother and the Phantoms), and Jade Shipman (Saucy Jacks). On Saturday, Darin Rafaelli and DJ Cristy Bubbles will be behind the turntables.

Bargain Rock will close out the weekend with one of Northern California's preeminent purveyors of unhinged garage rock, Sacramento band Th' Losin Streaks. Founded in the state's capitol in the early 2000s, Th' Losin Streaks' story began when Sacramento garage mainstays Tim Foster (guitar/vocals) and Stan Tindel (bass) of like-minded veteran band The Trouble Makers teamed up with drummer Matt Shrugg (ex-Groovie Ghoulies and Zodiac Killers) and guitar virtuoso Mike Farrell, who had made his name in area bands Daisy Spot, Sex 66 and Persephone's Bees (who he played bass for). The group quickly established a reputation with their frenetic stage show at venues around Sacramento.

Th' Losin Streaks - beg steal or borrow by Reny Sailor on YouTube

The quartet brought a snarling swagger to their raucous 2004 debut album for Slovenly Recordings, Sounds of Violence. Even when addressing well-worn subject matter like two-fisted romance ("Beg, Steal or Borrow" and "Your Love, Now"), the group managed to keep things fresh with razor-sharp hooks, Foster's gruff, authoritative vocals and the collective's fiery delivery.

With Farrell dealing out one searing, sustain-driven lead after another with the same wild abandon that Jeff Beck brought to the classic rave-ups of the Yardbirds, the album solidified Th' Losin Streaks as NorCal garage-rock contenders of the highest order. The group followed up with a 7-inch single for Dollar Records Records the next year, but outside of live performances that included an extensive tour of Europe in 2005, it would be years before the band would finally issue it's sophomore effort.

TH' LOSIN' STREAKS "(This Band Will Self Destruct In) T-Minus" by Slovenly Recordings on YouTube

After an extended break that saw them split up in 2010, the quartet reconvened and began playing shows again, making scorching appearances at the Burger Boogaloo in 2017 and Debauch-A-Reno the following year in addition to returning to clubs in Sacramento and the Bay Area. The band also finished work on its long neglected second effort, This Band Will Self-Destruct in T-Minus, which finally saw release on Slovenly in late 2018.

TH' LOSIN STREAKS "Trouble You Find" LIVE! by Slovenly Recordings on YouTube

Recorded with noted garage-rock studio guru Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall), the group's first release in 14 years is packed with ferocious anthems like "Trouble You Find," the propulsive title track as well as Who/Yardbirds-inspired fuzz of "Time Has Come" and "Order of the Day." While Th' Losin Streaks had to cope with the departure of longtime drummer Shrugg, after some searching -- Woodhouse sat in on one show and was considered as a permanent replacement -- the band eventually brought powerhouse drummer Brian Machado (Go National, The Decibels, The Trouble Makers) into the fold. Th' Losin Streaks will be joined on Sunday by Oakland fuzz/frat-rock favorites the Ogres, Rosenthal's garage-soul outfit Lou Lou & Her Spizy Boyz, the Hi-Tek Boyz (featuring founding drummer of the Phenomenauts Major Jimmy Boom), Hank Rother's Country Revue (a southern-fried side project of Isaac Rother & the Phantoms) with Kurtz's other band the Chuckleberries kicking things off. Lightnin' Jeff G and local legend Russell Quan play music before and between acts on Sunday. More information and tickets are available on the Bargain Rock website.

Bargain Rock 2022
Friday-Sunday, Aug. 12-14, start times vary; $20 per day or $50 for a 3-day pass
Classic Cars West

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