And so ended the Pool Parties, at least in the form in which we know them. That is to say, they ended with fun and sunny sets from the previously confirmed Florida booty rap party starter Dominique Young Unique and Barcelona’s blissed out dance rock blog-beaters Delorean, and a series of special guests that ran a rap line rarely toed there over the past five years: the Cool Kids, Doug E. Fresh, the latter-half of Run-D.M.C., Big Freedia, and big pleaser/not-so-secret special headliner Gucci Mane. Yes, thrown in there was D.M.C., as in the man who’s flanked Reverend Run, here joined by Andrew W.K. (and full band, for “Tricky”) and Tim Harrington, for “Walk This Way.” If it sounded somewhat unhinged, it was. If it sounded fun, it was that, too. It also felt nostalgic — turns out it’s a good morning for that.
Stereogum’s relationship with the series goes back to where it all began: We co-curated the very first Pool Party, bringing Les Savy Fav to a slightly elevated stage sitting on the lip of the deep end of a disused, dried out McCarren Pool. Five years on, McCarren is becoming an actual pool, the parties take place at the Williamsburg Waterfront where it is a Pool Party in name only, and Tim Harrington’s presence yesterday served as a bearded bookend, fitting as he’s cemented a status as the neighborhood elder/mascot/ubiquitous trickster over the past half-decade.
Will there be parties here, at the Waterfront, next year?
Probably, though it is the involvement of JellyNYC — the homegrown events promotion company that conceived and executed this series under increasing duress in recent years vis a vis bureaucratic hindrance and regulation by the recently instituted North Brooklyn parks administration nonprofit, the Open Space Alliance — that seemed to be at an end. Jelly has other events, like the Rock Yard, a free show in a rock parking lot on S. 2nd and Wythe in Williamsburg. The Pool Parties series has lost some luster (and foot traffic) since its move from the more carefree halcyon days at McCarren. There’s been institutional drama and heads butting between the OSA and Jelly, issues about which there had been off-the-record rumblings all summer but that became apparent and decidedly on-the-record via NPR interviews and press releases competing for the opinion of a public that never really understood how good they had it.
Full disclosure here, I count JellyNYC co-owner Sarah Hooper as one of my friends. As such I’ve had certain perspective as this series has unfolded, and can attest to her company’s tireless work, unwieldy as the discourse surrounding it may have become. Obviously there was a business goal behind these shows (strengthening Jelly’s brand name, with the hope that the company could parlay that strength into other, more lucrative endeavors in promotion, etc.). But this series, this always was about the neighborhood, and bringing something special, communal, and free to a zip code that’s watching itself morph from a bastion for truly artistic endeavors to a gentrified caricature of its least creative features.
The OSA has plans for the space for next year, surely (they’ve hinted to a broader range of artists than the indie rock and rap we’ve had here). But it is fair to pause and recognize that it’s the end of an era, a five year run that at the very least represents a chapter in this neighborhood’s history. Propers to JellyNYC, and to everyone that participated in conceiving and executing this series every summer Sunday for all this time.
See you at Rock Yard.
[All photos by Jessica Amaya]