Let's start this review off with some trivial context. McCarren Park Pool, a gigantic, empty, disused outdoor swimming pool in Brooklyn, played host to free rock shows since 2006. But sometime in 2008, the owners decided they wanted to put water in it again. Hipsters, cheapskates, and general music fans were sad. Then the promoters quickly figured out a way to move the whole shebang a few blocks away to a new state park on the East River and decided to keep calling shows "pool parties."
This show, with Mission of Burma, Fucked Up, and Ponytail, was the first Pool Party without a pool, and it lived up to its forebears admirably.
I almost wrote off Ponytail as nothing more than magnet school kids haphazardly fucking around with wild vocalizations and delay pedals, but I'm a believer now: at this show, the funk pushed through the noise, the hooks revealed themselves as actual hooks, and singer Molly Siegel's yelps largely blended into the mix as yet another joyous sound. Their music and attitude, as it turns out, are perfect for outdoor shows on beautiful days overlooking horribly polluted rivers. As long as people are willing to believe that a band that sounds like OOIOO could come from Baltimore, then there's no reason Ponytail can't be as big as all outdoors.
Fucked Up were up next, and with a largely stationary and unremarkable presence from everyone but lead singer Pink Eyes, it's hard not to compare their live show to Les Savy Fav's. To be fair, they managed to play like grownup hardcore kids without losing its sense of purpose, and Pink Eyes' smart-guy-doing-stupid-shit routine is worth whatever the price of admission happens to be. After watching them struggle to mesh with the implications of a sunny outdoor performance, I fear only that their newfound Eastern European nu-metal fame (they recently opened for Korn in Serbia) will mean that we've missed our chance to see them tear up dank basements.
Mission of Burma sidestepped the possibility of a comparatively predictable set by playing mainly new songs likely destined for their recently announced upcoming album, The Sound The Speed The Light. While the new songs were good, they were obviously not what the crowd was in the mood to hear. Judging by the reaction that even "Spider's Web" received, the audience would have been perfectly pleased with a set comprised solely of Onoffon and The Obliterati tracks. But that was not to be. If they come back to Brooklyn next year and play the same set, they'll probably have the slightly aging hipsters slurping it down like Jamba Juice and gin, but after a long day of drinking in the sun, the new tracks bled together too much to deliver a truly memorable experience.
If anything stood out from the set, it was Bob Weston's performance on tape loops. While his reversed vocals and spliced-up guitar can sometimes clutter up a perfectly good rock ‘n’ roll performance, he masterfully thickened up Roger Miller's guitar solos this time, providing incisive stabs of noise at only the most opportune moments.
Before ripping into "Photograph," which continues to somewhat surprisingly assert itself as the most crowd-pleasing of Burma live tracks, Clint Conley exhorted the crowd to shuffle over to Spike Hill for a Future of the Left show following the Pool Party festivities. Future of the Left, of course, proceeded to decimate the day's previous performers, but that's a story for another day.
[Photo: Kelly Davidson]