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East River State Park
Sunday, August 22
Yesterday afternoon’s rain-soaked Jelly NYC Pool Party, once thought to be the last one ever due to a since-resolved spat with the OSA, might have been the best one of the season. Storm worries delayed things, but a few hours and a handful of encouraging Tweets later, the rain-soaked grounds of East River State Park opened their gates to the public, which soon enjoyed a headlining set by Montreal’s electro-pop cheeseballs Chromeo (see photos of the whole thing here).
“In Canada, we don’t use “sweetheart”–we call them our…. tenderonis!” exclaimed a gleeful Dave 1, leading into “Tenderoni.” Silly segues are a “thing” for the duo. In fact, Chromeo’s performance resembled a cheeseball-styled magic show. Chuckle-worthy one-liners and incredibly corny staged-out dialogues (in some cases delivered via vocoder) are a crucial part of the appeal. Dave 1 played the part of dashing rock star, decked out in a black leather vest and denim shirt (sleeves rolled, of course) while strumming out grand riffs and flirting with the audience. The more laid back P-Thug was completely surrounded by various blipping devices, drum pads, and voice-manipulation equipment, content to play sidekick to punchlines. “The sun is setting, it’s getting romantic,” joked Dave 1. “I like it when it gets dark. I don’t like a lot of lights. Sometimes I wanna say . . . [pause] . . . ‘Don’t Turn the Lights On!'” The magical part is that we ate it right up.
Down on the ground, and regardless of the light showers, umbrellas were discarded, and ponchos (not to mention, in some cases, shirts and shoes) were shed. By the door, we spotted patrons literally dancing in line as they awaited a search by park security. Side by side, they shimmied over to the growing crowd, Soul Train style, earning the entire audience praise from the stage. (“Thank you, Brooklyn! You all are wet! Shvitzy! Rainy!”) It helps that the group’s songs are undeniably catchy: The overbearing synths, funky bass lines, and easy drum loops of old favorites “Needy Girl” and “Fancy Footwork” were the big hits of the show, though Chromeo couldn’t do wrong with anything. Two tiny, graying women grooved to a drawn-out sax solo from “You’re So Gangsta,” the kind that should soundtrack the romantic ’80s-movie interlude. “I see Rob Lowe,” observed a friend swaying along. “I see Miami Vice.” Onstage, three sultry women (the “Chromettes”) in very small, very tight black dresses and stockings sang softly indistinguishable backup vocals. Dave 1 flirted with them, too.
A fresh downpour sent some umbrellas back up, but nearly half the audience defiantly threw theirs to the ground and embraced the rain as they danced. The happiness of this crowd, half of which most likely came out simply to be part of what they (wrongly) feared to be Jelly’s last Pool Party ever, was intensely weird and contagious. Everyone danced: the tattoo-covered construction worker, the random bag lady, the security guards bopping alongside the throngs of soaking fans. “100%” was barely audible beneath the splattering of raindrops on the umbrellas surrounding us, but the audience was on autopilot and purposefully powered through. Two guys jumped in puddles on beat with the distorted bass, a couple started making out, a group of girls continued flailing about even once the music had stopped, and the mosh pit near the stage chanted, “Chro-Me-O.” Either every single person there was high, or that drenched Pool Party really was the happiest place in New York yesterday afternoon. We left smiling.