The producer of Oakland’s annual Burger Boogaloo festival announced today that his company, Total Trash Productions, has broken off its relationship with Burger Records. The label is facing allegations of fostering a culture of toxic masculinity among artists, and that numerous artists and label executives actively took part in sexually assaulting female artists; some of them minors at the time. The festival producer said the event, which was postponed last week to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return with a new name.
“It was hard to read the allegations,” a clearly emotional Marc Ribak said in a phone call Tuesday night. He seemed to be fighting back tears during the conversation. “They sounded horrible.”
In the scandal, which began building on Saturday morning with the creation of Instagram account Lured By Burger Records, members of popular bands like The Growlers, The Frights, The Buttertones, SWMRS and Cosmonauts were accused by female fans and musicians of abuse and predatory behavior. The label has since acknowledged on social media that the allegations were truthful, made pledges to change and rebranded as BRGR RECS. Additionally, the label vowed to pay for victims’ counseling costs and announced co-founder Lee Rickard will “immediately step down from his role as label president, and fully divest all interest in the label.”
The first Ribak said he heard of the allegations was by Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy against The Buttertones’ Sean Redman. She wrote online that he had sex with her when she was 14 and he was 20. Numerous other women accused artists associated with Burger Records over the weekend of similar crimes, which occurred over years in various locations, including after teenage girls were enticed to come into the back of the label’s storefront.
Ribak said that his wife and partner, Amy Carver, as well as their team at Total Trash Productions, made the decision to drop the “Burger” name and association after twice speaking to label officials Sunday and Monday.
“I believe people are innocent until proven guilty but there seemed to be a lot of allegations,” he said. “The following morning I got an email from one of the bands that are playing [at next summer’s festival] and they said they wanted to be removed from the event and they said that they’d be more than happy to do the event if the name ‘Burger’ was not a part of it.”
While Burger Boogaloo, which is approaching its 11th iteration in 2021, initially got off the ground with the help of Burger Records, the label had only been minimally involved in recent years.
The festival originated out of a showcase tour of the label’s artists from California to Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest, with other stops along the way. Since by itself the tour was not a much of a moneymaker, Robak came up with a concept for all the bands to make it to the Bay Area at the end of this circuit and play a show together.
“It was a way to get the artists paid a little bit more,” he said.
By the third year the festival wasn’t directly related to the label. He moved the event from an indoor club to Mosswood Park in Oakland and began booking the bands himself.
The label helped the event get off the ground because Ribak had called on all of his friends and contacts to help make it possible. In its first year in the park, he lost $10,000, but still considers it a success. In recent years, Burger Records’ association was mostly limited to letting Ribak use its name, hyping the show on its website and social media and staffing a label merch tent.
“The people that work at the label are in Southern California and the people that work on the event with me, our production company, are in Northern California,” he said. “The event is Amy’s and my livelihood.”
For a brief time on Tuesday, the festival’s website listed the fest’s new name as “Mosswood Meltdown” before taking it down. Ribak said that was a name originally given to a second event he was planning on staging in 2020, before scrapping it. He said it’s too soon to know what the renamed Boogaloo will be called.
In his years in music production, Ribak said he’s seen many abuses of power. He said that he was told by the record label in his conversation with executives that the label had severed ties with 13 bands since Saturday in the wake of the scandal.
“They told me that they’ve kicked plenty of bands off the label over the years for stuff like this that came out,” he said.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.