Well, that's that. McCarren Pool – the giant Robert Moses-era landmark that's been revived as a music, theater, dance and film venue after decades of neglect – hosted its last free 'pool party' yesterday. The Bloomberg administration has allocated $50 million to renovate the pool for swimming, restore the historic bathhouse building, and build a year-round recreation center that is to include a skate park and an ice rink.
After three years of presenting free indie rock concerts, dodgeball, beer and ice cream in the old landmark, promoter JellyNYC ended on a high note by booking revered indie rock trio Yo La Tengo, who played a set that went from catchy to self-indulgent to repetitive to mesmerizing and, briefly, back to indulgent again. But as was always the case at these free pool parties, it seemed churlish griping about something as trivial as the setlist when everything else – the space, the sun, slip and slide – was so right. Despite the occasionally excessive guitar wankery from frontman Ira Kaplan, Tengo was ultimately captivating, and rounded out the set by pouring water into the photo pit as an absurdly symbolic nod to the pool's fate. The Hoboken-based Kaplan told the crowd, "This is pretty much it for Williamsburg, pretty much it for Brooklyn. You've got to start looking across the Holland Tunnel, across the Lincoln Tunnel."
An announcer vowed that the parties would continue next summer, and Jelly has a petition going that urges the city to create a space for concerts in the proposed Bushwick Inlet Park. But the pool isn't quite done yet; Blue Velvet and Rushmore will be screening in the pool tonight and tomorrow night, respectively, and Sonic Youth will be the last musicians to rock the concrete pit on Saturday night, but that's not free. For further reading here's a comprehensive look at the Greenpoint landmark's turbulent history, and here's some video of young ladies in swimsuits running toward the slip and slide.