It finally happened.
Over two days of perfect spring weather, descended at long last upon Brooklyn’s Prospect Park this past weekend. First and foremost a celebration of food, the festival also featured two stages of live music to eat your gourmet grilled cheese to. In between the foie gras doughnuts and waiting in 20-minute lines to buy a $15 beer, there simply wasn’t enough time to see every single musical act, but I was fortunate to catch some of the better performances the weekend had to offer.
As I arrived on day one, the first band I wanted to see was about to take the stage at Hamageddon. Before a massive metal pig that belched fire from its snout as a pig roasted in its belly, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra took the stage where, despite a new drummer and minor technical problems, they rocked the pork out of the crowd. After a set of deep ethereal grunge rock, they finished with the melodically rhythmic “Ffunny Ffrends,” a track that’s been getting some decent airplay on independent radio stations nationwide.
They were followed by what I considered a highlight of the festival, the excellent Unchained, a band whose sole purpose is to pay tribute to 1980s Van Halen. And tribute they did pay, and most triumphantly at that, as they ran through classic after classic from the David Lee Roth era. Vocalist Ricky M’Coy had a range very well suited for covering Diamond Dave, while guitarist Steve Brown had chops enough to execute most Eddie Van Halen licks, including a faithful rendition of “Eruption,” the true test of any EVH devotee. Needless to say, the crowd was alive with many air guitarists, some the best in the country as we would find out afterwards when they took the stage to promote the 2012 Air Guitar Championships. Among them was Nordic Thunder, a man wearing little more than leather body armor and a beard. It came as little surprise to find out that he is the defending champion.
Finally, as dusk fell upon the Nethermead, an afro rose from behind the drums on the main stage. With a sprinkling of booms and a handful of baps, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson set the beat for The Legendary Roots Crew to take the stage. Their set began with a stripped down cover of Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s classic “La Di Da Di,” which segued seamlessly into “The Next Movement” from Things Fall Apart (1999). Founded as a band in 1987, and fairly unique in that respect within the genre of hip hop, The Roots have always been fairly tight in their performances. However since taking the role of house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, they’ve grown tighter still as evidenced by their stellar performance of tracks from their catalog, including “How I Got Over,” “You Got Me,” and “The Seed 2.0.” The crowd responded appropriately, bouncing and dancing for an hour and a half until darkness came.
And there was evening and there was morning: a first day of Googa.