Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
I didn’t know that it was a life goal of mine to be offered rabbit and snail paella during a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show but these are the kinds of things you learn at Googa Mooga. I love food, and I love rock, but I don’t generally like to combine the two; a rock-and-roll dinner, to me, is a couple plastic cups of Jamesons and a snack pack of Cheez-Its. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure of synching up various courses with bands’ set times. But when I found out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were playing I knew I had to try.
“A rock-and-roll dinner, to me, is a couple plastic cups of Jamesons and a snack pack of Cheez-Its.”
There is something magical about taking the subway to a rock festival. My primary reason for avoiding these things is panic about not being able to leave. Like, what if I realize I wore the wrong outfit and I can’t change for the next 12 hours? Or what if I’m craving the Thai salad from that place in my neighborhood and I can’t get it because I’m in a polo field in Southern California trying to get out alongside tens of thousands of other people in matching rental cars? Or, what if I have to pee? Anyway, being transported by F train from 6th avenue to a verdant paradise in which you walk over charming stone bridges through good-smelling assorted greenery to arrive at a festival stage flanked by what seemed like miles of artisanal food booths was a very calming (and possibly rock-fest-PTSD-healing). All this, just a 20-minute train ride away?! Starting to get the Brooklyn thing (again).
Now is probably as good a time as any to admit I didn’t actually eat anything. Look, it was progress for me to show up. But as we walked around pre-show taking in the options — a sous vide egg, kale and hash sandwich, duck sausage corn dog, Guiness brownie — I started to feel that familiar overwhelmed feeling. Too. Much. Choice. Too. Few. Places. To. Sit. Isn’t. The. Band. About. To. Play?! Attempting to get a glass of wine first just made things worse. First step: find the woman doling out over 21 wristbands. Step 2: get in line to buy alcohol tickets. Step 3: get in line to buy actual alcohol. I gave up and focused on finding a good spot to watch the band, which turned out to be kind of a good call.
Nestled into a surprisingly comfy spot on the gnarled root base of a giant tree, that thing that brings people to rock festivals in the first place took over. The sun was nearly set, the air was cooling off, the band was playing “Bang,” the first song they ever wrote a decade ago in a loft not all that far from where we were. When Karen Ocame out in her hot pink tinsel wig, I turned around to take in the crowd’s response and saw treetop upon treetop filled with grownup foodies transformed into tree-climbing Lost Boys (and girls) by the perfectly deranged noise that is this band’s signature. When Karen O first came into New York City as a teenager to see rock shows she was disturbed to find everyone sitting on the floor story-hour-style. It was her plan to get them to loosen up. Fifteen years later, she’s got them climbing trees. Mission accomplished.