The Woulda Coulda Shoulda Been Great GoogaMooga
By now, word has quickly spread that The Great GoogaMooga left much to be desired. Glitches are to be expected with inaugural large-scale events, especially in the NYC area, but expectations were quite high, due in no small part to the constant hype machine perpetuated by Bonnaroo creators Superfly Productions (who should really have festival management down to an exact science by now). At any rate, we arrived around 2 p.m. with healthy appetites.
After finding our way to the Prospect Park’s Nethermead Meadow from the train despite minimal directional signage, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves inside fairly quickly with a minimal wait (reportedly not the case for early arrivers). So far, so good. Then, we got in and noticed multiple lines stretching as far as the eye could see. These were just to acquire a drinking bracelet. Lines would be a recurring motif of the festival.
In order to drink at the beer and wine pavilions, GoogaMoola cards were required, but those malfunctioned early in the day and a haphazard ticketing system was put in place. By the end of the day, cash was accepted sporadically. The only other beer and wine was sold at beverage counters dispersed at disproportional ratio to the adjacent food stands.
Food was a major selling point of this festival and it was delicious…when you could get it. Popular grub required waits exceeding half an hour even relatively early in the day. So we strategically hit up stands with shorter lines. There was no line at all at Frankies 457 Spuntino and the Polenta with Sausage and Peppers really hit the spot, just slightly sweet and very hearty. Next up were Red Hook’s El Olomega Pupusas (corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and meat). We opted for the pork filling. Paired with a white creamy sauce and a red spicy sauce, as well as pickled loroco flowers. That was the best (and last) thing we ate all day.
All in all, beggars can’t be choosers, and the festival was free after all. There’s not much better than a gorgeous sunny day in the park with food, fun and friends. Where were our friends, anyways? Let’s give them a call. Hmm…I don’t seem to have any service. You? No? That’s right. If you wanted to see your friends, you had better have come with them, or else been lucky enough to run into them. There was no way to contact anyone via modern conventional means. How did people deal without cell phones!? I don’t even want to think about it.
In order to ensure that I got my friends their tickets, I had to leave the festival to get service. I also got some no-hassle craft draft beer at The Double Windsor, which was inhabited seemingly entirely by GoogaMooga refugees. In fact, I don’t recall ever placing an equally satisfying (or vulgar) drink order – a Flying Dog Raging Bitch and a Founders Dirty Bastard.
There was music too. In fact, had this been approached as a music-first event, much of the other issues might not have been as glaring. The line-up, though properly stacked, was almost an afterthought. Indeed, it was announced well after the participating restaurants. But any day that ends with a live band hip hop throw down by the best in the business is OK in my book. The Roots capped off the festival with some serious heat. Old school flavor for days.
We caught the last thoroughly funky half of Holy Ghost!‘s disco extravaganza. Earlier in the day, the indie jam of Unknown Mortal Orchestra graced the Hamageddon stage flanked by olfactory hues of a porcine variety. The legendary New Orleans institution Preservation Hall Jazz Band swung through a set of brass standards under a blazing sun producing Louisiana temperatures.
GoogaMooga failed to meet possibly unwarranted high expectations. We certainly didn’t eat as much or as well as we would have liked. As many pointed out, it is easier and cheaper to go to the actual restaurants, which a friend of mine did before the festival on Sunday. Nonetheless, a relatively great time was had by most. Many of the issues were reportedly fixed by Day Two, and Good Ol’ Googa should be back full force next year, better and stronger, having learned from their many mistakes.