With Yo La Tengo set to play the last free show of JellyNYC’s summer concert series at McCarren Park Pool this weekend, Alexander Kane is taking a moment to reflect on Jelly’s success.
“Yo La Tengo embodies the energy, spirit, and love in their music that has been so special the last three years of Pool Parties, a series that has brought the neighborhood and surrounding communities together, as opposed to the ticketed shows that draws people from New Jersey and Long Island,” said Kane, founder of JellyNYC, a Williamsburg-based creative agency. “In my opinion this would have been the best last show at the pool as they have never played here before.”
The McCarren Park Pool Party series, which JellyNYC promotes and books music for, has been a rousing success, drawing music fans from throughout Brooklyn and beyond to the once abandoned city pool monolith. McCarren Park Pool will become an actual city pool in 2012, as construction is set to begin on the site in the coming months.
“What’s great about Jelly is that they started their business with McCarren Pool,” said Stephanie Thayer, executive director of the Open Space Alliance (OSA), which has cosponsored the summer concert series this year. “They are guys from the neighborhood who have grown with the pool and really shaped it into the venue it is today.”
Kane founded the boutique creative agency three years ago after working as a director for music videos in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He found himself doing a variety of creative ventures, including concert promotion, and sought to put all these efforts under the same roof. When the city Parks Department approved a dance series to be held at McCarren Park Pool in 2005, Kane realized that the space would be perfect for a free concert series, which he had hoped to develop. JellyNYC, along with OSA, lobbied the Parks Department for the concert series, which first began the summer of 2006.
“Nothing of this scale had ever been done before,” Kane said. “We got a tremendous response from the first day really. Six thousand people showed up for Les Savy Fav. It was the finals of the World Cup. When the game was over, the floodgates opened.”
Word about the uniqueness of the venue and the eclectic lineup of bands at the pool spread, along with JellyNYC’s market campaign, which helped attract thousands of fans every Sunday afternoon. JellyNYC teamed up with LiveNation and other promoters for ticketed shows, gaining experience in putting together large, complicated productions.
“We try to keep the experience organic though it is designed to make some money when you bring in sponsorships,” Kane said. “It’s a tricky balance to maintain. [The atmosphere] comes about with the types of bands we choose.”
The Pool Parties have received national and even global press for being a destination space for concerts in New York, as the bands that JellyNYC has been able to schedule have broad and varied followings and many new residents living in Williamsburg have international backgrounds.
Capitalizing on this momentum, JellyNYC is planning a national tour where it will attempt to bring free concerts to underutilized spaces in cities across the country. They will maintain their Metropolitan Street offices and hope to work with OSA and the Parks Department to secure a site on the waterfront such as Bushwick Inlet on North 12th and Franklin Street, Barge Park at 65 Commercial Street, or State Park at North 8th and Kent Street.
“It’s definitely bittersweet leaving McCarren but we don’t have any control over that,” Kane said. “Space is one part of it. There’s a lot that goes into these events besides the site itself.”
Yo La Tengo will be playing at McCarren Pool (Lorimer Street between Driggs and Bayard Street) on August 24. Doors open at 2 PM. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.mccarrenpark.com.