And so it ends, the fifth and most calamitous season of Jelly Pool Parties, with a finale abruptly canceled and grudgingly reinstated, in the end overloaded with a semi-secret parade of random-ass rappers, semi-secretly headlined by your friend and mine Gucci Mane. Never has the line “I don’t wear tight jeans like the white boys/But I do get wasted like the white boys” had so much resonance.
Whether we’re done for the year or done for good, I will miss talking/reading/speculating about these things more than I’ll miss actually going to them. But today is great fun in a stupendously chaotic sort of way: It makes absolutely no sense and is mostly better for it. In the stifling early-afternoon heat, Dominique Young Unique and Delorean do their raunchy electro-rap and bleary rave-rock things, respectively (guess which one had a song called “Pussy Popping”), but the show truly begins with those SECRET SPECIAL GUESTS.
Which means, at first, the Cool Kids: “This is where it gets retarded/I’m Park Place you’re Marvin Gardens.” Here we are, in Brooklyn, nostalgic for a past we largely did not actually experience. “Does anyone even use pagers anymore?” a friend inquires during “Gold and a Pager,” which sums up both their appeal and their limitations pretty well. This is immediately followed by New Orleans “sissy bounce” queen Big Freedia, who is a fantastic special guest, actually. “This song is self-explanatory,” she announces. “It’s called ‘Ass Everywhere.'” Three backup dancers (complete with chairs) drive home the point and perhaps break a few laws. (That this performance is bookended by appearances from your twin Pool Party saviors, State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and Senator Chuck Schumer, both insisting we’ll be raging on next year, makes it even more delightful.) “Gin in My System” (“somebody gonna be my victim”) is a hoot, too.
And then, a Run-less DMC. “It took me five years to get here,” he notes. “I didn’t find out until last week that you had this goin’ on.” DMC struggles. The songs themselves — “King of Rock,” “Mary, Mary,” “Rock Box” — are bulletproof, but his voice is frail and a little strained, and any deviation from those bulletproof hits is unwise. He tell us a long, rambling story about how Kurt Cobain visited him in a dream last night and told him to adapt one of his (Kurt’s) songs to the message of education, by way of explain why he (DMC) then sees fit to drone, “We need new/We need new/We need new education” over “Come as You Are.” I can guarantee you two things: 1) Kurt Cobain did not visit DMC in his sleep to tell him to do this, and 2) Kurt will be visiting DMC in his sleep very soon to tell him to knock it off.
And then Andrew W.K., along with a full band, comes out to do “It’s Tricky,” soon joined by a shirtless Tim Harrington — clad in a fur coat, a fanny pack, and a graduation cap — for “Walk This Way.” What do you want me to tell you this sounds like? It sounds not so much rehearsed as prepared for, as with, say, a hurricane. But it’s charming, really, an arbitrary, semi-competent cacophony totally appropriate for the occasion; Harrington leaps into a juiced and giddy and grateful crowd, visible only as a furry arm clutching a microphone. We all feel ridiculous. We’re all having fun.
After an old-school interlude from Professional Old-School Interlude Provider Doug E. Fresh (wherein he plays harmonica, beatboxes, and hugs his mother simultaneously, a tour de force marred only by his decision to also bring out some young rappers who express their intention to be all in your mouth like dentists), Gucci Mane’s rumored-all-summer closing set is pleasant anticlimax, all 20 minutes of it. He makes no particular concession to or acknowledgment of the bizarre situation (though I can confirm he’s not very good at rapping and playing with a beach ball at the same time), instead just plowing ahead with the abbreviated hits, luxuriating in the marvelously weird “Lemonade” and blacking out on the remixed “Pretty Boy Swag,” a slow, hypnotic, pulverizing marvel that seems to thrill the prettiest boys and girls of all. Let’s all do this again real soon, everybody. Or not.