This morning it was announced that the annual Northside Festival (held in June) will be hosting outdoor concerts at North 12th and Kent. According to BrooklynVegan, The War on Drugs will play on June 13th ($20 advance, $25 day of) and Beirut will perform on the 14th ($35). But were you aware that outdoor shows in Williamsburg used to be free and plentiful? Here is an abridged history of Williamsburg Outdoor Summer Concerts B.C. (Before Condos).
Back in 2006, JellyNYC started hosting free outdoor concerts in a then-abandoned McCarren Park Pool—they were simply called Pool Parties. It was really, really great—there was music, beer, a slip n' slide, dodgeball, and one food truck: the Ice Cream Man. It all got kicked off with a Stereogum-curated lineup, and Les Savy Fav performed in the shadows of luxury condos being constructed. "What will the future residents think of these loud concerts?" we ignorantly pondered.
By the following year, everything was pretty much the same, but from then on there was corporate signage around, and a larger stage.
By 2008 people had moved in to those condos, the abandoned pool was no longer an option for the concerts, and it was announced that the Pool Parties as we knew them would end. But JellyNYC and the OSA would be moving them over to the Williamsburg waterfront, so everything was going to be just fine. The first year of those shows clung on to the spirit of the original parties—and they were even held in the shadows of a new luxury condo development of what is now The Edge.
We were during the era of This Kind Of Hipster:
Things stayed around the East River State Park area, give or take a few hundred feet, but everything else changed. Politicians were getting involved, Jelly was ousted (and tried to revive their parties at the far away Aviator Sports Complex), food vendors lined the grounds, and most importantly there was now free wine in the VIP section... where you could also buy expensive clothes.
Because we were now in the era of This Kind Of Hipster, the one that lounges on a leather couch with reclaimed wood legs. The one that demands more than one food truck. You know the one...
Since then there have been some free, and some ticketed shows, but nothing resembling the old Pool Parties. And this year Williamsburg's outdoor concerts will change again with Northside, which in addition to the two shows in June will be hosting a Concert Series all summer long. Check back for a blog post about how great these were in 4 years.