Sunday at The Great Googa Mooga

“Googa Mooga” might sound like hoopla, but this festival was in fact a memorable music and foodie experience deserving of such a unique name. Unbeknownst to many the festival-goer, the name comes from the song by Lee Dorsey, a popular 60s R&B singer who performed with the Meters and who worked with New Orleans legend Allen Touissant. Fitting that Superfly would choose such a fun and unique name. The company has been around for over 10 years, and has helped to organize Bonnaroo (after the Dr. John song), Outside Lands, and the late night shows at New Orleans Jazz Fest. This was the first Googa Mooga, and it sounds like it had some serious growing pains over the weekend. Saturday was panned by critics as a “clusterfuck”, defined by massive lines, food vendors running out of supplies at 3pm, a shortage of readily available drinking water, angry hipsters frustrated by the lack of cell phone service, and other issues bound to piss off the average New Yorker (though, as one myself, I have to say – it was free – how pissed off can you really be considering that?). Superfly managed to iron out a lot of the kinks by Sunday though, and it was a much smoother operation. One review I read said that you would have never even known it was the same festival. Sounds like I chose the right day to go! Today they released this thank you / apology on their website:

“A huge thank you to everyone who helped make the inaugural Great GoogaMooga so special: all of the food and drink vendors, our excellent staff and volunteers, the amazing musicians and chefs, the park and mother nature for the unparalleled weather and most importantly, all of you fans!

And to those who had a frustrating experience on Saturday – we are sorry. We truly regret the first year glitches and really appreciate your patience as we worked to smooth them out. As with all our festivals, creating and providing an enjoyable experience for everyone is the driving force behind all that we do, and a responsibility we take very seriously. We couldn’t have done it without you and hope to see you all next year!” 

My only real qualm is that I had expected it to be a more music-focused festival, and I hope that they do a better job with the lineup next year. That said, they crushed it on the foodie front, with presentations by Anthony Bourdain, Chef Morimoto, April Bloomfield and other culinary greats. We also missed Charles Bradley, which would have been cool – I mean, the guy’s called the “screaming eagle of soul”. Ultimately I viewed it less as a full out music festival and more as a beautiful 70-something and sunny day in Prospect Park with great food, beer, wine, good vibes, the most happy New Yorkers I’ve ever seen in one place, and some good music. Hard to complain about that. And obviously Hall and Oates killed it.

Lee Dorsey “Great Googa Mooga

My Top 10 Highlights:
1) The smoked meat sandwich from Mile End Brooklyn. Tried it because the line was so short and turned out to be a truly serendipitous discovery. 

2) The Crawfish Monica from Kajun Kettle. My first and not my last.

3) Moving to Extra Mooga (VIP). Total game changer. It was like being let into a secret shaded forest behind the festival. Also allowed for us to be right there in front at the main stage.

4) Chef Morimoto’s presentation on tuna and the following tasting. Some of the best tuna sashimi I’ve ever had.

5) Pat LaFrieda bacon cheeseburger. Pure decadence.

6) Hanging with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band straight outta New Orleans.

7) Fitz and the Tantrums doing their whole Indie-Pop-Soul thing.

8) Watching Christian Scott from the the bridge overlooking the Boat House (another Extra Mooga perk). Not a bad view.

9) Dancing to headliners Hall and Oates’ smooth 80s hits while Daryl Hall’s mop flowed in the breeze of several wind machines. All good minus a belligerent meat-bone-wielding guy bumping around in the front who ultimately got kicked out. Who knew Hall and Oates could make someone so angry?

10) And my first silent disco. I always thought it would be totally lame, but dancing to a little MJ turned out to be the perfect end to the party.

See all you Googa Mooga’ers again next year!

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