Live: The Great GoogaMooga Tries To Break New York's Festival Curse

hallandoates_googamooga.jpg
via Great GoogaMooga
Daryl Hall and John Oates. Check out more photos from GoogaMooga
The Great GoogaMooga
Prospect Park
Sunday, May 20

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.

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8 comments
AC
AC

"Vineland. Field Day. All Points West. New York is littered with the acrid corpses of past festivals..."

You mean, like the Siren Music Festival? OH SNAP.

I actually enjoyed that one quite a bit the year I went. Feel free to, y'know, bring it back.

Johnny Deep
Johnny Deep

 Siren was awesome...how many great bands did you get to see over all those years. I saw many....Bring back all of Old Coney Island!

Chicken Underwear
Chicken Underwear

I live a block from Prospect Park. 

I knew this would be a good weekend to go away. I hope they pay to repair the damage they did to Prospect Park and it get repaired.

Imnovictim
Imnovictim

Last minute, beautiful day, decided to check out the Googa Mooga. Tickets easily available on Craig's List at only 20 bucks which is way reasonable considering someone had to travel 20 mins by subway to deliver them to me. Easy trip to Brooklyn via BBT and lucked out on Park Slope West parking. Very pleasant hike to the Fest which was great. There were long lines at some food booths but this is New York and there will always be imbeciles willing to wait when the exact same product is available 10 feet away without a wait, which is what we opted for. No wait whatsoever in the Wine Tent, loved Lez Zep and Hall and Oates which we were able to dig happily from uncrowded shady vantage points with good sight and sound lines. Some food options like the faux artisanal Dickson's Meats were ridiculous ripoffs but there were many excellent, well priced bites for the foodies and the plain hungry. The basic beverage lines were long but certain non greedy vendors likie DBGB offered delicious lemonade at reduced rates. As a festival goer who often feels "I'm too old for this shit" I give day 2 of the Googa a big thumbs up!ast inute, beautiful day, decided to check out the Googa Mooga. Tickets easily available on Craig's List at only 20 bucks which is way reasonable considering someone had to travel 20 mins by subway to deliver them to me. Easy trip to Brooklyn via BBT and lucked out on Park Slope West parking. Very pleasant hike to the Fest which was great. There were long lines at some food booths but this is New York and there will always be imbeciles willing to wait when the exact same product is available 10 feet away without a wait, which is what we opted for. No wait whatsoever in the Wine Tent, loved Lez Zep and Hall and Oates which we were able to dig happily from uncrowded shady vantage points with good sight and sound lines. Some food options like the faux artisanal Dickson's Meats were ridiculous ripoffs but there were many excellent, well priced bites for the foodies and the plain hungry. The basic beverage lines were long but certain non greedy vendors likie DBGB offered delicious lemonade at reduced rates. As a festival goer who often feels "I'm too old for this shit" I give day 2 of the Googa a big thumbs up!

V_Ferg
V_Ferg

I agree the festival was very different on Sunday.  I almost didnt want to go the second day but glad I did.  I was in VIP for saturday and it was awful, 4 booths of food for everyone there and half the time 2 of them were closed leaving extremely long lines for a sample food plate. The food was great but still all that waiting for a small sample. The chicken party had 200 people all cramped as close together as possible while 1 guy came out every 5 to 10 minutes with a single tray of chicken with 10 plates on it if that. I thought there was going to be a riot, we sadly left not getting anything. The burger stand also in the VIP section had a sign saying come back at 530 were sold out only to come back at around 530 to see another sign saying 730... On top of all this we were denied access to many of the VIP acts due to having to many people at the stages. Then they ran out of drinks and were understaffed by people that also had no idea what was going on.  Once you got a drink for some reason you werent allowed to even walk around VIP area? only the stage area were they served it! It made no sense since you could get a glass of wine at the wine and beer both about 100 feet away which you could walk anywhere with.  I may not have been that upset if we didnt spend the ridiculous amount of money they charged you for getting in to that "special" area... I know we didnt get anywhere near our moneys worth. It was a joke. 

Sunday worked very well though, I thought it was due to not spending the VIP ticket money for the second day and just being in GA but I really do believe it was due to the revamped staff and less people coming (probably due to the bad experience Saturday).  Either way it allowed a lot of people to have a much better experience Sunday.  There were still a lot of things that needed to be changed but seeing how quick they made a difference in 1 day I believe they can fix the rest for next years fest.

thomas Jr.
thomas Jr.

Rock the Bells has been going on for at least 6 years in #NYC, except for this year, No love for a hip-hop festival? All Points West @ Liberty State Park 2008 with Radiohead & The Roots was one of the best I've ever been to. 

Anthony K
Anthony K

 Rock the Bells was the biggest shitshow I have ever expereicned last year. I have been going for years, and the choice to have it on Randalls Island was retarded. There were lines to the boats to get on the island, then more lines on the island. People waited for hours and got in late, it was honestly the worst. We didnt even get in until 2 and missed some of the acts we wanted to see. You should never have to boat 1,000's of people onto an island for a show...leaving was retarded too

Anthony K
Anthony K

 Sorry, not Randalls, Governors...at least Randalls you can DRIVE

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