Picture this: performances spread across three stages, eccentrically dressed people on stilts dancing to dynamic acoustic melodies, sweaty masses sitting in the shade or hustling themselves from one thing to the next, more ice cream, baked goods, bacon-wrapped hot dogs and strawberry lemonade than one could ever possibly need, a Ferris wheel that sped on with promises of bringing all that food back up, a brave few hanging from trees, parked cars and panting dogs everywhere, spaces packed with booths on flattened grass … this past Saturday, all of these things melted into the sun-drenched afternoon.
Coachella? Don’t be silly. This is UC Irvine.
Wayzgoose never claimed to be Coachella, though. In fact, several of the performers at UC Irvine’s annual student-run festival this year commented on how they were glad they were at our humble school instead of being out on the polo fields.
Part of Celebrate UCI, Wayzgoose occupied Aldrich Park and turned the normally quiet setting into buzzing festival grounds.
Performances varied — from a djembe and acoustic guitar duo to dance crews and everything in between. These acts were placed on three stages:
At the “family” stage, mostly child-friendly productions were held (I happened to learn quite a lot about porcupines). Nearby was the petting zoo and other animal-related activities. At one point, the UCI club Open Jam took the stage and performed their own renditions of popular songs, notably “Drive” by Incubus, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses and “This Love” by Maroon 5. Though loosely performed, the energy and mood of the group shone through. As one of the singers requested that someone bring up the lyrics to Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” one couldn’t help but sense the nonchalance — there’s nothing like simple fun in the shade of a tree in Aldrich Park.
Not too far from the family stage was the Conscious Carnival, held by the Sustainable Living Roadshow. This eco-friendly slice of the festival was dedicated to educating people about environmentally conscious living, hanging up facts about water consumption and singing acoustic songs about poignant ecological issues. The stage and booths were all made to look like the carnival that the name “Wayzgoose” points toward — the place replicated a true carnival atmosphere, down to the Roadshow workers’ offbeat clothes, stilt-dancing, acrobatics, hula hoops, carnival games and a “freak show” of genetically modified monstrosities.
Further uphill, the commencement lawn was taken over by the main stage and the crowd that it amassed. The largest of the three stages, the main stage was home to the biggest acts: dance crews like B-Boys Anonymous (BBA) and CADC, as well as musical acts like Clarke and Scott Yoshimoto.
Highlights of the main stage included a performance by CAMA, the Chinese Association’s martial arts act and BBA, whose prompts for noise from the audience never went unanswered.
In contrast to the high-energy spirit of the dance crews and DJs, Milo Greene attracted festival-goers in a different way. A band of UC Irvine alumni, Milo Greene is normally a five-piece band; two of the members couldn’t attend Wayzgoose because they were at Coachella. Even with this bandmate deficit, the band had no trouble creating a full sound. Switching between acoustic and electric guitars, having a guitarist also mark the beat with a kick drum, and even pulling off three-part vocal harmonies, their music showed no signs of incompletion.
Only a short downhill jaunt from the main stage was a car show, another part of Celebrate UCI. Although the vintage cars and main stage shared the same relative space, the difference in energy was more than apparent; such was the dichotomy of the park this Saturday. While there were spots of peaking energy throughout the park, mostly having to do with the sprint of the Ferris wheel or a DJ’s full use of a sound system, there were always spots of relative peace — shady areas away from the sun’s searing heat and the vigor that comes with it.
Though the schedule posted on the main stage put the final act at 4 p.m., the times had been a half-hour off or more for most of the day. So when Suddyn took the stage as the last band to perform that day, most of the vendors were packing up and leaving. The dwindling audience showed its numbers in scattered groups of twos and threes, the biggest crowd being a group of festival staff whose work for the day had just finished.
Though the crowd was small, they showed their enthusiasm well, dancing in front of the stage and hollering encore (the band didn’t have an encore planned, but were coerced into replaying one of their earlier songs).
As Suddyn packed up and left, the only traces of the festival remained in heaps of ice on the grass from emptied coolers and the remnants of the Sustainable Living Roadshow’s carnival — their stage was the last to go down. People from the Roadshow were still dancing on stilts and hula-hooping, juggling potatoes and singing songs despite the festival-goers having come and gone.
No, this is not Coachella. But close.