Wednesday, June 24, 2009

East River State Park concert series in danger of being cancelled?

Although you're probably not aware of its existence, East River State Park -- which opened to little fanfare, even among the encroaching hipster set, a few years back -- is one of the more pristine recreational areas in the borough . (That other bloggers tend to refer to it by the nebulous moniker of "Williamsburg Waterfront" is a testament to its obscurity.) As of right now, the park is the new host of the McCarren Park Pool summer concert series, which brings a mixture of local and internationally recognized talent to Greenpoint for free most Sunday afternoons in July and August. Or is it?

While several acts (Grizzly Bear, Dan Deacon, Mission of Burma, the Dirty Projectors, No Age, Deerhunter, Simian Mobile Disco, and possibly And You Know Us By the Trail of Dead... among others!) have confirmed that they will be playing "Pool Party" shows (see earlier post about contaminants in the East River, O crazy ones), the venture's web site isn't exactly a paragon of information. This is on top of several rumors floating around the Brooklyn Vegan comment boards that the promoters are near financial insolvency.

In all likelihood, the matter boils down to simple economics -- higher guarantees and market oversaturation. Over the past year, Grizzly Bear have gone from the industry margins to the top 10, Dan Deacon has been showcased alongside Tom Waits on NPR's concert series, and the guys once-lowly noise punk outfit No Age have metamorphosed into leading critical darlings. All (with the possible exception of No Age) are fixtures on the local concert circuit, playing so frequently and cheaply that the notion of a free show loses much of its allure. As I have alluded to in recent posts, many of the artists who stood on the Bush-era vanguard are now reaping the success of the seeds that they sowed years ago -- and if that means pulling the plug on a free show that may not even draw that many people in the first place (especially in the case of Grizzly Bear, who play practically every other week), than so be it.

Of course, this development shouldn't dissuade the Pool Party people from taking advantage of what were surely hard-earned permits, and the cancellation of a No Age or Simian Mobile Disco could always expose insurgent younger bands like Coyote Eyes or Fiasco to an even greater audience. There is also the nature of the announced programming itself, which amounts (SMD and Deacon kind of notwithstanding) to being very white, very indie, very male, and very guitar-y. With the local hip-hop scene as fecund as ever and a comparable dance-oriented series in Queens eliciting complaints for its banal programming, more DJs or MCs wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

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