It was supposed to be a temporary fix. When Mayor Bloomberg announced plans last year to renovate Williamsburg’s McCarren Pool, it left JellyNYC—the organizers behind the ragtag concert series known as the Pool Parties (and sometimes referred to as “hipster heaven”)—scrambling for a new home. Serendipitously, they stumbled into East River State Park, a barely landscaped mix of concrete and grass with an astounding view of the midtown skyline. Despite precarious finances and bureaucratic tangles, they succeeded in securing sponsors and permits, and announced, on July 2, a last-minute lineup of eight summer shows.
And what a summer it was. Over 75,000 people ran through 480 kegs of beer; cheered on (or braved entering) the famously competitive dodgeball tournament; sunbathed and picnicked on the lawn; and caught unusually strong sets from bands at the top of the indie scene, including Grizzly Bear, Dan Deacon, Dirty Projectors, and Girl Talk (who rocked so hard he cracked the stage).
When Jay-Z and Beyoncé showed up on the last day of the season, it was as if to validate what everyone else was thinking: Is there anywhere else you’d rather be right now? But it was a bittersweet day; the State Parks Department had begun making noise about not renewing the Pool Parties’ permits for 2010. Luckily, there was one more bold-faced name in the crowd: Senator Chuck Schumer, who had happened to bike past an earlier concert and (always working!) signed on as the series’ most influential champion. “I will do everything in my power to see that they return in 2010,” he announced this fall. And lo and behold, it worked: Just last week, the state backed off. According to regional director Rachel Gordon, “there’s still some paperwork, but as far as state parks is concerned, there will be concerts.”