This summer Jelly has left their longtime home of Williamsburg, cut ties with the Open Space Alliance, dropped their Pool Parties series, and secured the Aviator Sports Complex for six free events way out in south Brooklyn, adjacent to the Rockaways. Dubbed Topman Presents Rock Beach, the all day events feature music, food, booze, Slip 'n Slide and dodgeball. This Sunday will be Rock Beach's second run, with Death Grips, Miracles Club Night Manager, and our personal favorite Bass Drums of Death. Jelly's jack-of-all-trades Chris Goldstein talks to us about Rock Beach, the geographical nuances of Brooklyn and Queens, Shirtless Tom, and why the Pool Parties are dead and gone.

What's your position at Jelly? How did you end up working there? I'm the office manager slash everything else except Owner of Jelly. I've been with Jelly since right before our first pool party. I volunteered to sweep up glass at the old pool, then became the first dodgeball referee, which I later handed over to Shirtless Tom, and then became a head PA, then an office manager and now basically everything it seems like.  

Describe the genesis behind Rock Beach. Why the Rockaways? The Pool Parties were kind of getting out of control and people at OSA were ready for us to take off and making it as difficult as possible because they felt like we were ungrateful. They felt that we were getting all the press from Pool Parties and they weren't getting enough recognition for being the middle men that they are. So we started this thing called Rock Yard, which was cool—we had around 300 to 500 people there every week and it was all under our own terms, but that space on Wythe between South 3rd and South 4th turned into a restaurant. So we were given a chance to use Aviator Sports Complex, and we felt it was a good time to explore outside of Williamsburg, based on the fact that a lot of our friends were going out to Fort Tilden and The Rockaways.

It wasn't like, "This is going to be the biggest thing ever!" But there were enough people and enough things going on there that we felt, hey, this Rock Beach thing could be a bonus to people who are going to the beach on the weekends. You go to the beach for a few hours, you're bored, and on your way back to Williamsburg or wherever you stop by Rock Beach for the end of it. We felt it would be the coolest thing if it were a supplement to your big adventure to the beach that day. You talk about going to the beach all night, "Oh let's go to Fort Tilden in the morning." The next thing you know you're waking up at 3 p.m. and you've missed your window. Maybe this would really get people motivated.

So we got Topman, and one of the things they included in their sponsorship was that we were gonna bus a ton of people. The first week we bused out just over 200 people, most of them coming from the Williamsburg area and the rest coming from Lower Manhattan. When we did Rock Yard we didn't know Rock Beach would follow right after but it kind of fit in line with what we were doing last year.

So how did you think the inaugural Rock Beach went? The first week's lineup was a little light because we wanted to test some things out and see how everything would work out. We had around 500 or so people turn out. The lineup's getting steadily bigger and better and we'll see how that goes. We'll see if we have 500 or 600 people coming out this weekend. One of my main problems has been that people in general have this misconception that Rock Beach is supposed to be as big or bigger than Pool Parties.

Do you think that's an unrealistic expectation? I feel like I don't see how anybody could even think that that's possible. To casually get 3,000 to 4,000 to go to a waterfront area—it's just not a realistic expectation.

Well when we found that presser on your website it seemed as if the lineups were going to be comparable to the Pool Parties. From that initial look, you couldn't see why people would think that it was going to be the same sort of caliber as the Pool Parties? No. Definitely not, because that was never meant to go public. That was a sponsorship deck that we mistakenly let some people out in LA forward around willy nilly without knowing they were doing that. At the same time, that was a list that was made months and months and months ago and there were a few bands in that list who were at a Rock Beach level, like JEFF the Brotherhood. But there was also The Strokes—names that are bigger than Pool Parties names! A lot of times when we come up with those lists, it's just to give a vibe of who we like, not necessarily, "This is your guaranteed list of artists." It was never meant to go public and never meant to give someone the expectation that we're going to be putting on a Strokes show for 10,000-15,000 people. That takes hundreds of thousands of dollars just to put on that one show when our six shows aren't even equivalent to that budget for a band like The Strokes.

So it was more of a dream bill? I wouldn't even call it a dream bill either because I don't even like Fleet Foxes. It's just one of those things, you're like "Here's a list of all different types of artists that may or may not resonate with sponsors." If I were to give them a list of artists that are really cool, and will be really big in the future, that are on our lineup this year, like Pictureplane and Death Grips, if I was to send that lineup around I would be getting a lot of question marks back from sponsors and things might not even progress past that point. It should be obvious that our budgets are not nearly as big as Pool Parties budget. That should speak for itself in the lineups alone and the list of artists we've announced. If people don't get that by now, then they just don't know how it works.

Yeah I don't think that people know how it works. Can you go into why the budgets are so drastically different? Is it pure sponsorship? Budgets are low because we painted a picture to sponsors that this is a brand new thing, no one from Williamsburg has gone out to do these summer events in a part of Brooklyn that is not easily accessible. We were looking to help these people have new, fun weekends and legitimize their adventure and help overcome the obstacle of getting out there. We were really pleased with the first week's turnout. At Rock Yard, which was right on South 3rd and Wythe, we would never get more than 500 people and that was right there. And now we have these things going on 45 minutes away and we got 500 people the first week.

The lineup wasn't bad, but if you look back at the Pool Parties lineup it's just night and day. To get any kind of disappointment from people that this isn't the Pool Parties is kind of funny to us. I don't know if these people just moved to Williamsburg and they heard about the Pool Parties and they thought this was the same thing. Everybody right now in Brooklyn is like, their own brand. For example, we used to have 30-50 photographers coming out to the Pool Parties back in the day. They would take pictures, give them to us and say, "Thanks for having us, this is an awesome event." Fast forward, five years later, now they're all bloggers with their own brand and they've taken the model and now they're the ones throwing parties at South By Southwest and doing all this stuff. Right now we're trying to evolve that even more because we feel like it's peaking right now. If you're in a position to make some money, do your own party, you've done a good job. But we're still trying to be as inclusive as possible.

You just referred to The Rockaways as being in Brooklyn, as did your press release. A writer at The Village Voice took umbrage with that and some people are having fun with it, saying, "Jelly doesn't know where the Rockaways are, they don't know the difference between Brooklyn and Queens." How do you respond to the perception that Jelly represents the stereotypical Williamsburg hipster who never ventures out of the neighborhood and so has no clue about the difference between Brooklyn and Queens? Well, obviously we know where our venue is, the address is clearly written on most of our stuff and the zip code for Aviator Complex is clearly in Brooklyn. That being said, the Rockaways are right over the bridge, basically five minutes away. For us, it is the Rockaways and it's Brooklyn. The idea of us putting "The Rockaways of Brooklyn" is kind of funny because it's incorrect geographically. At the same time, never did I think someone would make a story out of that instead of, hey, Jelly is putting on another series of free shows and congrats to them.

When I see Brooklyn Vegan post about our shows and they're like, "Oh, good to see that Jelly is still going." It's like, where did we go? Did you just realize that we're a full, year round agency that does shit outside of Williamsburg all the time? Whether I'm interviewing Ryan Seacrest at Sundance for Bing or whatever, we're constantly all around the country. So to make a story out of us not knowing whether or not the Rockaways are in Queens or Brooklyn is the last thing that I think is relevant in this situation. Do I think there should have been a story about, "Hey, good for Jelly not relying on the influx of all these random people that are in Williamsburg now?" Yes. These people, walking down Bedford Avenue like it's 5th Avenue: we don't need a few more people stumbling into our event to feel better about ourselves. We get dedicated fans out to our new event and embrace the fact that it's a destination spot. It can become a little more special in connecting with these people and figuring out who these people are because obviously those people care about what we're doing.

So what other locales did you guys look at that you may use in the future? We were thinking about doing it in South Slope for a minute. We could go wherever. Long Island City is cool. There are so many places. We just though, the Rockaways, this venue being as close as it is to the Rockaways, this justified to us that this is good enough, this is close enough for what we consider a cool spot to check out in the summer.

So let's talk about Rock Beach itself. Have the party buses been going smoothly? Someone Tweeted that there was going to be booze on the buses. Has that worked out? Yeah, I mean, it's a casual. We're not putting on a whole other big show on the bus. The first time around I believe it was Jah-Jah's birthday from Ninjasonik. They all had party hats on the bus last time. A couple people were drinking but that's up to people to decide if they want to get drunk on the bus before the show. But I thought it went pretty smoothly, a fun way to get out there.

You mentioned there was a Slip 'N Slide, I've seen video of that. There's also dodgeball? Yeah, those have been two of the staples.

Is Dodgeball Tom still officiating? [laughs] Yeah, Shirtless Tom, we call him "Shirtless," that's probably more appropriate. Dodgeball and Slip 'N Slide are something we've always tried to have at these events. The only time we didn't have Slip 'N Slide was when the State Parks thought it was too dangerous.

But no one's hurt themselves, right? Never.

And there's camping the last few dates. How is that going to work? Yeah, the idea was that we basically encourage people to camp after these shows. Again, we don't hold anybody's hand along any of these processes, we just plant the seed: this is possible, you could make it a reality. There's camping at Floyd Bennett Field year-round. We thought maybe towards the end of the year it might be easy to handle, its been so hot lately. We though that would be more attractive as Rock Beach grows and people realize it's a fun even to go to. As more and more people do that, people do their own thing. All of a sudden you've got people camping after the shows and that becomes a whole other little party. At the same time, our sponsor Topman is really excited about the camping aspect. It's just another way for people to get out there and experience the concerts.

Obviously Rock Beach is still a work in progress, but does Jelly have any future plans that you can tell us about? We're still doing the same thing we've always been doing. We're a creative agency that works year-round. Say we open up the new Yotel in Times Square, a new Japanese, pod-style hotel. That's one of the things we do year-round. We don't send out a press release about that or care if anyone reports about it because that's just our job. We had an opening night party with bands playing in the lobby, different performance artists based out of each hotel room. We do tons of creative, fun stuff like that all the time and have our own people that we invite and have our own things going on besides these summer parties.

We don't necessarily plan our whole years around the summer but I don't feel like people get it with us sometimes. They go out to Rock Beach and they're like, "Rock Beach sucks." If that's your attitude, if you think that we've spent years developing Rock Beach—we could do that in our sleep. I just really hope people appreciate it for what it is. It's a destination, it's a chance to get out of Williamsburg. We might end up throwing a pool party at Hotel Williamsburg when that opens up and not make a big deal about it and that might be the next coolest thing. At the same time, all we really want is people to come out to Rock Beach and have a good time. If we did a party in a big lot, maybe on the waterfront, we could expect to get some of our old sponsors rolling but we're not doing the Pool Parties anymore and that's the bottom line. That time is over and that part of your life in Williamsburg is definitely over. I feel like a lot of people, after the last five or six years, after all this great fun, you realize that there's other things to do.