The Great GoogaMooga Recap: Logistical Nightmare or Annual Mainstay?
As I perused the fantastic Great GoogaMooga app Friday afternoon to decide what I was going to eat throughout the weekend, and then as I looked at the weather forecast–78 degrees and sunny each day– I found myself giddy with excitement about the weekend’s prospects. As I traveled the 18 stops along the F train to Prospect Park on Saturday, stomach empty and ears ready, my excitement reached a fever pitch. Unfortunately, my extreme excitement led to deep confusion, an inability to find those I was hoping to meet up with and just general dissatisfaction with the event.
As my ticket was scanned and I surveyed the massive field the event was taking place on, all I could see were people and more people. I made a bee-line for my first food stop, the absolutely sublime-sounding Spit-Charred Pork Belly Tacos from Colicchio and Sons. After waiting about five minutes in one line, I realized this was the pickup line, and that there was a whole other line for ordering. Undeterred, I walked over to the correct line, where I proceeded to wait for more than a half hour simply to order my pair of tacos. Overjoyed that I was holding this golden ticket (it was yellow in color, adding to the illusion of truly being a golden ticket), I made my way past the legions of people to my spot at the back of line two. Nearly an hour later, my two tacos came out and in the five minutes it took me to walk across the field, they were gone.
I then settled up near the stage for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band‘s set. I love this band, and their 40-minute set roared through a variety of New Orleans classics including “Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and many others before walking off the stage and parading through the crowd almost like a second-line parade. While the music was phenomenal, the number of people actually paying attention was astonishingly low as I stood in a pocket of about 30 or so people that actually cared about the music.
Then I made my way to the Hamageddon section where a variety of stands including Landhaus and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que were serving up pork products. I found one of the shortest lines of the afternoon for one of the best items I tried throughout the weekend, the B.L.T. from Landhaus which featured the best piece of bacon I have ever had (and the Village Voice agreed). After an excruciating effort attempting to acquire enough cell service to get in contact with my fellow festival-goers, we all watched Unchained “the Mighty Van Halen Tribute”, which was incredible. Usually I am not a huge fan of cover-bands, but, some cheesy banter aside that would have made Sammy Hagar proud, faux-David Lee Roth and co. were phenomenal, effectively playing a Van Halen greatest hits set. Up next was a brief interlude of the Air Guitar Championships, where six shirtless men played air instruments along to Andrew W.K.‘s “Party Hard.” As one attendee quipped, “this looks like Revenge of the Nerds,” and that is precisely what it appeared to be, as it was the most amusing part of an otherwise lackluster day.
After that, I made my way back to my spot just off to the side of the stage for Holy Ghost!, a band I had seen before who are eerily reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem as they blend their own brand of live electronic music with catchy hooks and an energetic front-man. After their set, I found my friends, who were not even halfway through a nearly two-hour wait for Roberta’s pizza. This occupied the time between acts on the main stage. As the heat finally subsided and the pizza finally arrived, The Roots came on, capping off an otherwise relatively lackluster day.
As I went back on Sunday, I was extremely pessimistic, having suffered through interminably lengthy waits and a lack of cell service. I arrived later, at about 4 PM. Unlike Saturday, I glided in through the entrance, hoping to grab a Crawfish Monica. Unfortunately, they were sold out, which was my major qualm of the festival. How can a place that touts itself as a food festival run out of food? I walked over to Hamageddon to find an incredibly short wait for a Wild Boar Sloppy Joe at Georgia’s Eastside BBQ, which was fantastic. I then walked over to the main stage to catch the second half of Fitz and the Tantrums‘ set. Although I was not overly familiar with their music, I really enjoyed what I heard of their set, and was happy to hear a cover of the Eurythmics‘ “Sweet Dreams.”
On my way back to the Hamageddon Stage, I grabbed a Chorizo from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, an audible from what they were serving at the beginning of the day. While the sausage could have used a bit more kick, I was impressed by their ability to change up what they were serving in order to accommodate the needs of hungry festival-goers. Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Led Zeppelin cover band, was up next and I was extremely impressed by their faithful renditions of classic Zeppelin songs including “Dazed and Confused” and “The Ocean.”
I then grabbed an order of Fried Oreos on my way back to the Nethermead Stage for the closing act of the weekend, Hall and Oates. The Yacht Rock all-stars played a solid hour-and-a-half set of their “blue-eyed soul,” opening up with “Maneater” and playing through other fan favorites including “I Can’t Go For That” and “You Make My Dream Come True” to close out the weekend.
While Saturday left a bad taste in my mouth (although whatever taste was there had subsided from the heat and the lack of available water), Sunday redeemed itself, and the Great GoogaMooga may have a chance to break the mold of festivals that just couldn’t quite make it in the big city. Hopefully Superfly can iron out the kinks a day earlier next time, but as we have seen from Outside Lands and Bonnaroo, they are more than capable of putting on world class events.