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Ebony Bones, Titus Andronicus and Yo La Tengo:
The Final JellyNYC Concert McCarren Park Pool
August 24, 2008

Written by Matt Boyd and Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo:
Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo

It’s the end to an era of entitlement at McCarren Park Pool, and I think all of us who had grown used to looking forward to our summer Sundays enjoying the fruits of the Herculean effort the folks at JellyNYC made to stave off the preemptive creep of Monday’s soul death can rightfully say we’ve seen the end of an era. The shirtless and the shiftless, the underpaid and the well endowed, the enthusiast and the critic alike can say: Alright, New York, you had better come up with some other payment to your residents for putting up with your grind and high rents. You’ve dismantled our Sunday soul hospice to flood it like the 9th Ward. It’s not as though global warming isn’t going to have us all up to our high waters in the Atlantic soon enough, anyhow. Plenty of free public swimming then- did we really need a public pool?

Fans at McCarren Pool

Sunday, August 24, 2008 was the final McCarren park pool show hosted by JellyNYC. To keep the end mellow, Yo La Tengo sat bedside and pushed the happy musical morphine button till we felt good and strong enough to say goodbye ourselves: “Pass the Hatchet, I think I’m Goodkind,” indeed.

Ebony Bones

Ebony Bones

First on the three-band bill was Ebony Bones, eye-popping girls who visually brought the Now, clashing like a Photoshop collage of losing roulette spins at a neon color wheel. Sonically they stormed the fortress of 1990s dancehall, borrowing keys to the guardhouse (or perhaps wresting them by dint of brute force?) from Dance Hall Crashers.

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus came out with an identity crisis. They played three sets in one. They took the stage garbed first in Clash trappings, followed by a duck behind the screen to change into their slow Social Distortion threads, and they finished the set dressed like something they found in grandma’s Candle box.

Ira Kaplan Yo La Tengo

Hoboken’s Yo La Tengo vibed the docile gathered Sunday faithful with a palpable and reciprocated air of well-wishing, one in which they freely indulged in soloing and noodling over their trademarked long-form and pleasingly repetitive tunes. They treated the crowd to some bittersweet reminders that this was slated to be the very last free show in the pool’s life as a concert venue. Their T-shirts for the show were in line with the maritime theme, featuring a lifeguard shouting, “Everyone out of the pool!” and their set featured, two or three songs along, a beach number apropos of an Annette Funicello film.

Summer ends, and the unusually early hints we have had in the air in NYC this year of Autumn’s mellow promise built in and around McCarren park that Sunday the allowance that let us tell the painful jokes that hide the Monday obvious- the promise that allowed us to down the drinks, to hold the hands, to make the new friends with open smiles and eyes we did not have waking up that morning.

Dave Schramm of Yo La Tengo

And what is it obvious in Monday that Yo La Tengo so graciously and expertly ushered us toward with their blissful Sunday serenade? To paraphrase how Algren put it, we’ve made ourselves incapable of using ourselves for anything more satisfying than the promotion of chewing gum.

The terrible joke it hurts and invigorates us with laughter to tell is everything we do on a Sunday afternoon. It’s all the sustaining steam we wouldn’t have to blow off if we were doing something better at a sweeter pace. So thanks, NYC, for crossing JellyNYC’s pool parties off the list of things we’re looking forward to doing next year, for removing one more low-cost incentive to do the splendid wastrel thing in Gotham.

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