Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Words and Photos: Steve O.
“An amusement park of food and music” was erected this weekend in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. TWoL was lucky enough to score tickets to both days of the fest’s inaugural run. Expectations were high considering this was the brain child of Superfly Presents, the company behind Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. Prep was pretty easy Saturday morning, considering the park is in walking distance of #TWoL Studio BK and the weather was objectively perfect. All we needed was some cash, our IDs, and sunscreen.
The gates opened at 11am but we arrived at the park just before 1pm. Entry was easy at this time and we did not wait more than a minute to have our ticket scanned from the Eventbrite iPhone app. Once inside, our first order of business was to get a beer. Our crew of about eight headed over to the nearly empty craft beer tent, excited to try a new brew. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Detour 1: needed to get an “over 21″ wrist band. Detour #2: needed to get “GoogaMoola” (a credit card type thing) as the craft beer tent was not accepting cash.
Lines for both the wrist bands and Moola cards were quite long, which was demotivating at this early hour. Even worse, we learned that the ID check tent was out of bands, and that the Moola’s tent’s computer system was down. Were were able to find a rogue ID checker who had us banded in no time, and we 86′d the Moola cards and went to the beer tents that accepted cash. With the card system down, the festival switched over to a ticket system. Again, these lines were long and not worth the effort, IMHO. The cash beer stands had a decent selection, with choices like Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold and Peak Organic Summer Session. Prices were only slightly inflated over standard Brooklyn fare at $7-$8.
Now by this point, the grounds were about half full, and there were about 20 min lines forming at all the beverage stands and the choice food stands. The crew chose to go with the “divide and conquer” method in order to meet our initial beer and food quota. I grabbed a Chihuahua Dog from Crif Dogs. The line was short, and therefore well worth the 7 bones. The only other food I grabbed from the fest was a Sloppy Joe from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. There was no real line when I walked by, so for $5, I got my Joe on. Tasty, and it provided some needed afternoon nourishment (read: beer stabilization).
I wish I had more to report on the food front. As the clock struck 3pm, the park was probably at capacity and lines for all cash services were longer than I was willing to deal with. The general consensus of our crew was that it would be easier to get food from any of these vendors home stores. Most of the restaurants featured at Googa Mooga live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, so not worth the time and festival tax to try more than the above mentioned delicacies. That said, we actually got in one of the pizza lines, but opted to leave the festival and just get a pie delivered to us at a friend’s apartment in Park Slope.
On the music front, I don’t have much to report either. There were two stages and I spent some time at each. Sound was vibrant, the grass was soft, and all the people were friendly. I was only familiar with Holy Ghost! and The Roots, both of which I missed out on due to our early departure. I don’t feel particularly remiss about this, as entry was free and I have seen these acts before. Had I paid to get in, I would have probably stayed, and I’m sure this review would be largely different.
It seems to me that the free admission and high capacity led to some of the problems for Googa Mooga. Less people, less lines, less waiting = better experience. Unlike most festivals that draw on the artist lineup to sell tickets, this was more about the beer, wine, and food, which was just a chore to obtain after a while. I imagine that the Extra Mooga experience was not marred by long lines. The $250 upgrade provided a secluded experience, with free food and booze and extra activities and music. These tickets did not sell out, which isn’t too surprising, as that is, in my opinion, a relatively steep upgrade. Had it been $250 for the whole weekend, I imagine it would have seen a lot more takers.
On a positive note, the overall vibe was great, the event was child friendly, and they even had a bike valet. There were plenty of ATMs and bathrooms, neither of which ever had lines. The grounds were in great shape, and litter of any kind was hard to find. Police were present though seemingly unneeded. Everything was easy to navigate and they allowed for re-entry.
As I get ready to head to the park today, I will change my plan of attack. With me will be a Nalgene of water, my “Over 21″ wristband that is still intact, enough cash to score two beers and the expectation to only grab one food item. The weather is beautiful again and excitement is high for Hall and Oates.
(Sunday review and other anecdotes on the next episode this Tuesday)