Words by: Avi Scher | Images by: Aaron Marcus
Del Tha Funky Homosapien :: 08.17.09 :: McCarren Park Pool :: Brooklyn, NY
Many were disappointed last summer when news broke that McCarren Park Pool would once again become an actual pool, ending the newfound summer tradition of their weekly Pool Parties. It was a pleasant surprise when it was announced that the summer series would return at the East River Park in Williamsburg with artists that rivaled any of the years past. While Williamsburg may be best known for the hipsters that call the area home, this show's lineup reflected the diverse communities that make up the neighborhood.
|DJ Prince Paul & daughter Layla :: 08.17 :: McCarren Park Pool|
The first artist to perform was Kenan Bell, a young rapper from Los Angeles who also teaches English to youngsters at a Montessori school back home. While the crowd began to trickle in, Bell took the stage belting out "Enjoy" from his debut EP, Good Day. Bell proceeded to run through the album backed by a band including guitarist Ted Feldman of local band Bear Hands as well as keyboard player and producer Jason "Milk" Burkhart. Despite the strength of his original material Bell drew the loudest applause during his cover of Peter Bjorn and John's "Chill," which originally appeared on Good News; The Mix-Tape, an eclectic selection of remixes of artists from Jose Gonzalez to Pink Floyd. For the final song, Burkhart refused to continue until two audience members came onstage to take over keyboard and synth duties while he assisted as MC.
Following a local DJ spinning Top 40 hits between sets, Canadian indie-rockers DD/MM/YYYY was next in line. "Life is good," Matt King proclaimed as he began assisting drummer Moshe Rosenberg on the toms for the first song of their set. With heavily reverberated vocals, it was difficult to understand the words but King's passion was clear as he screamed while rolling across the stage. While Mike Claxton held down the low end throughout the set, the remaining four members alternated between guitar, drums, keys and a synth that was reminiscent of classic video game music. This relationship was solidified during "7-7-7," a song about gambling your life away that was introduced with a shout out to Tetris. Despite interesting the growing crowd, the band failed to draw a significant audience to the stage, as most seemed quite content to watch from the nearby beer garden.
|Bukue One :: 08.17 :: McCarren Park Pool|
Electro-pop group Gravy Train!!!! soon followed. Simply put, everything about them is bad. While it's tempting to point to them as an example of everything that is wrong with the music industry, one would be hard pressed to make the argument that they even qualify as music. Rather, this is poorly done cabaret. While Chunx, Funx and Hunx shared a keyboard, Junx flamboyantly danced around the stage while asking where he could find a "sexy Puerto Rican boy." As soon as one member picked up a guitar, Junx quickly lost his shirt leaving him with only a pair of skintight boxers while incoherently screeching off-key before following up his recent request with one for "anybody who knows where I can get Ecstasy." During the remainder of their set I took the time to walk around the riverside venue, which featured 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, constant dodgeball games and free water guns for all.
The pulsating bass brought me back to the stage where DJ Prince Paul was about to perform. With a resume featuring names such as Stetasonic, De La Soul, RZA and Handsome Boy Modeling School, his show was about "taking it back to the streets." The set was dedicated to Michael Jackson and he began the musical journey with a sample of "I Want You Back" as his young daughter Layla stood alongside him singing-along. Paul proceeded to pay tribute to the legends of hip-hop moving along from classic acts such as Black Sheep, Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest to more modern artists Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes and Nas, with stops at De La Soul, Wu Tang Clan and others along the way.
|Del :: 08.17 :: McCarren Park Pool|
Immediately after the set ended, DJ Zach Hendrix began to spin his vinyl records, in stark contrast to Paul who seems to have stepped into the modern era with digital turntables. Meanwhile, Bukue One skated across the stage performing kick flips and pop shove-its before beginning with an a cappella freestyle verse that flowed like a waterfall from his lips. As the sun began to set over the New York City skyline shining behind the stage, the day's headliner, Del Tha Funky Homosapien came onstage for "At the Helm" reminding the crowd, "This the freshest shit and you know it." Del then leapt straight into the rhythmic rhyming of "Virus" from his futuristic concept album Deltron 3030 before heading back in time to "Catch A Bad One."
Throughout his performance Del worked through his extensive back catalog including both his solo material as well as songs from his time with the Hieroglyphics. In the midst of his set Del began to speak about the hypocrisy and faults of the music industry. Thankfully, there was a physician in the house with a remedy as Del launched into his hit "Dr. Bombay" before reminding the audience of his own response, which was to release his latest album, Funk Man, for free online. When the time came for his final song of the night, Del delighted the crowd by laying down his lines from the Gorillaz "Clint Eastwood" before bidding the crowd farewell with a final reminder to download his album at Band Camp. Hendrix continued to spin solo as the crowd slowly dissipated and danced away to the tune of another successful Pool Party.
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