Live: The Great GoogaMooga Tries To Break New York's Festival Curse
Better than: Eating anything in my fridge.
Vineland. Field Day. All Points West. New York is littered with the acrid corpses of past festivals, a perpetual tease giving hope to the most jaded music fan that maybe this year, someone will get it right. Figuring out why New York hasn't had a long-running festival has been a parlor game in the music industry for years, but the Great GoogaMooga, the new food/music hybrid festival organized by the people behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, seemed like a front-runner to break the curse.
In theory, it's a great idea: Collect 75 food vendors from disparate parts of New York, book energetic groups like disco revivalists Escort and retro-soul group Fitz & the Tantrums, and turn Prospect Park into one giant tasting menu. The best laid plans...
Your Googa Mooga experience largely depended on which day you went. On Saturday, the first day of the festival, broken scanners, insufficient toilet paper and overcrowding led to the most frequently heard word of the day: shitstorm. And that's not including reports that Extra Mooga, the VIP area costing $250 per day (versus the free regular area), ran out of food and beer by around 3 p.m. Good thing it wasn't packed with food critics, journalists, bloggers and other tastemakers. Oh, wait.
I didn't go Saturday, but I didn't have to. Texts from friends knowing I was going on Sunday told the story. "This is a nightmare." "The ID checking station ran out of wristbands." "Why did I wait two hours and still not get beer?" Staff members known as "line talkers" had signs proclaiming, "I'm here to humanize the waiting process" and "I am here to wait, so we can relate," thoughtful gestures that, in light of the glacially moving lines, felt like cruel jokes.
By the end of Saturday, which featured performances from Holy Ghost!, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Roots, it looked like Googa Mooga would join its brethren as another curious footnote in NYC festival history; a "Remember when... " moment when theory and execution were as disparate as, I dunno, M. Wells' horse bologna & foie gras grilled cheese and Tertulia's paella. (I'm not a food writer and I tried neither, but I'll just assume those two things taste very different.)
But to quote the Book of Huang, "To all those who called googamooga a failure Saturday, witness perseverance on Sunday!" Whether it was better organization, fewer people or more beer and wine vendors accepting cash instead of the previously required "GoogaMoola" card, Day 2, by all accounts, ran noticeably smoother.