The Great GoogaMooga promised plenty of food and music at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and it mostly delivered. The festival promised 75 different food vendors, plenty of beer and wine options as well as a music lineup that featured The Flaming Lips and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Friday, Matt and Kim on Saturday as well as Kool and the Gang on Sunday.
Friday’s kick off concert had GoogaMooga hit its high point as it entered its second year at Prospect Park. Last year the festival was mired with long lines for beer and food with reports the free food options for people who purchased VIP tickets to the festival had run out. As an act of good faith, Superfly reimbursed all the customers who purchased VIP tickets. Aside from food running out, GoogaMooga had solved most of those problems by the second day in 2012 and for its second year at Prospect Park, it looked like GoogaMooga would receive nothing but praise but that changed when it was announced the festival was cancelled on Sunday due to rain.
On Saturday, GoogaMooga ran smoothly. Waits were kept at a minimum and there was little to gripe about other than the light rain and cold that caused the temperature to dip throughout the afternoon. Festival goers and foodies could choose between bacon flights, getting pizza from Roberta’s, pork belly tacos from Colicchio & Sons, pulled pork from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que or truffle burger from Umami Burger. There were also plenty of vegetarian options and those craving something sweet were not left wanting at GoogaMooga. Food prices typically ranged between $8 and $12, some items being more expensive than others, and beer or wine was similarly priced.
While the prices may seem a bit exorbitant it falls in line with prices for food offerings at other music festivals. As for the music selection on Saturday, Lee Fields & The Expressions opened up GoogaMooga with plenty of soul and Sharon Van Etten followed that up with a great introspective set that fit perfectly with the overcast skies. Father John Misty, stage name for Joshua Tillman, had perhaps the best set of the day.
The former Fleet Foxes drummer had fun on stage, joking about food while singing songs off of “Fear Fun.” Jovanotti acted as a rapping composer, seamlessly integrating sounds and influences from around the world. GoogaMooga’s headliners for Saturday, Matt & Kim, brought plenty of charm, humor and “aw shucks” positivity as the Brooklyn-based band played a hometown set.
The rain continued on Sunday and there was a long line of fans waiting to get in while GoogaMooga announced more tickets were available at the box office in Prospect Park. A short time later, the festival announced on Twitter that the “rain or shine” GoogaMooga was cancelled. GoogaMooga stated, “NYC Parks Dept, Prospect Park Alliance & #Googamooga have canceled today's event in the interest of safety & prevention of damage to park.”
GoogaMooga’s cancellation left many upset but also brought to light the problems Brooklynites had with the festival. As Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg News’ food critic, notes on his blog, The Bad Deal, GoogaMooga the festival was plagued with problems and the commercial nature of the food festival was not worth damaging Prospect Park for. Sutton also has a problem with the curatorial nature of the festival, instead of finding the best hidden gems in New York; GoogaMooga simply offers trendy locations a chance to sell their product outdoors.
Michael Powell, from the New York Times, also has concerns about GoogaMooga taking over Prospect Park. Powell points out the festival destroyed the grass and left mud patches well after the last food vendor packed up. For the amount of damage, advocates and residents believe the festival is not worth the $75,000 it reportedly paid to the Prospect Park Alliance.
Fans may have been bummed to miss out on a Sunday full of food at GoogaMooga, vendors were the hardest. VIP ticket buyers will be issued refunds but restaurants may never recoup the money lost from the weekend. The East Village blog EV Grieve spoke to Christophe Hille, Northern Spy Food Co.’s co-owner, who stated the restaurant lost about $10,000 from the rainout. On Twitter, Brindle Room said GoogaMooga lied about their location and they lost $15,000 from the weekend. Brooklyn’s Pizzamoto offered a similar tale, saying they had over-prepped by 1,200 large pizza pies.
Most of the unused food will go to local charities and food pantries, including the Food Bank for New York and Bowery Mission. GoogaMooga’s promoter, Superfly, promised to work with vendors to see if there could be some form of financial compensation but nothing is guaranteed. While a return to Brooklyn has yet to be determined, there are talks that GoogaMooga may be heading to Chicago.