Beach House & Grizzly Bear Made a Divine JellyNYC ‘Pool Party’ Closer

Abbey Ley
5 min readJan 26, 2024

The year was 2009. Instagram did not yet exist.

On the last Sunday of August, indie darlings Beach House and Grizzly Bear captivated Brooklyn against the gorgeous sunny-turned-sunset skyline of lower Manhattan. This show marked the highly anticipated final JellyNYC Pool Party concert of the summer.

It was a lovely breezy, sunshine-y day in Brooklyn. After some delicious Bloody Marys, my friends and I headed to East River State Park aka the Williamsburg Waterfront early to make sure we could get in before the park filled up. Hundreds didn’t get into the previous week’s Girl Talk show after the park reached capacity. I made it in and snapped a few photos of people shamelessly sneaking in, lifted over the fence by friends and stepping hilariously onto the tops of port-o-potties. Some were lucky… but this guy was met with security staring him down. I was delighted and honored when this photo showed up on the JellyNYC website the following day, crediting me via Flickr, where it still lives in its little time capsule.

We sure as hell weren’t the only ones to arrive to the show early… A line of people stretched on several blocks past the park, waiting impatiently in the bright sun. Lucky for us, we spotted friends already in line and managed to get in within just 15 minutes. Our first mission: find a good spot as close to the stage as possible. Unlike the prior week’s rowdy crowd at Girl Talk, people were relatively chill and we found it pretty easy to worm our way through.

All photos by me. (The quality sucks because it was 2009.) More on Flickr here

We reached the front just in time to see Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House, along with a live drummer (they normally perform as a duo), take the stage. Though I’d thought a grey overcast day would suit the lineup well, the partly cloudy blue sky and shiny city skyline seemed the perfect backdrop for Beach House’s unique breed of ‘dream pop.’ Victoria, dressed in a long black and white polka dotted collared shirt with shoulder pads, short shorts, Ray-Ban shades and red lipstick, rolled up her sleeves and headed to her keyboard. Guitarist, Alex, wore a bright wide striped red, green and purple polo shirt and skinny white pants.

Beach House performing at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn on August 30, 2009

Victoria’s husky voice soared through the air with power. The drummer pounded a large drum with one hand while melodically shaking a shaker in the other, and simultaneously tapped foot pedals. We heard lots of tracks from their most recent album at the time, Devotion (Carpark, 2008), along with plenty of new songs. They’d been hard at work creating more intricately composed atmospheric pieces. Victoria’s signature low, breathy vocals trailed over droning streams of guitar, organ and piano melodies, grounded by echoing drums and a mix of eclectic sounds. Their set left me really anticipating the new album, Teen Dream.

Next followed my faves Grizzly Bear, who seemed to have really struck gold lately. Their latest album release at the time, Veckatimest (Warp, 2009), had been raved over by music blogs and critics across all mediums. They landed #8 in the Billboard Top 10, amongst Eminem, Hannah Montana, Green Day and Kenny Chesney.. which I must admit was really strange, but very awesome and well-deserved. They opened their set just as the sun began to set, with the explosive first track on Veckatimest, ‘Southern Point.’

Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen performing with Grizzly Bear on August 30, 2009 in Brooklyn

Each member of Grizzly Bear is incredibly skilled, not only with their instruments, but in the vocal department as well. Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen’s contrasting high and low ranging voices, respectively, command on all songs. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor and drummer Chris Bear lend their pipes to key parts on every song as well. We heard some of the best from Veckatimest, including ‘Cheerleader,’ which sounded extraordinary even without the Brooklyn Girls Choir who backs them on the recording. Of course, they dazzled us with their biggest hit, ‘Two Weeks,’ during which Victoria of Beach House joined to sing her part.

Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legrand of Beach House, left. Chris Taylor belting out vocals during ‘Southern Point,’ right.

Grizzly Bear also graced the crowd with older favorites from their 2006 album Yellow House, including ‘The Knife,’ and ‘Little Brother,’ and even ‘Fix It,’ from their debut, Horn of Plenty (Kanine Records, 2004). Their music lends itself very well to the outdoors, where their vocals soar dramatically through the breeze. They also sound fantastic in large indoor spaces such as the BAM Theatre, where they performed with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra earlier that year.

They closed the set with the grand ‘On a Neck, On A Spit’ from Yellow House, and did not delight us with an encore. But they’d return to the stage many times again in Brooklyn and elsewhere over the following years. It was quite a bummer to see The Pool Parties go. They’d been the best free Sunday entertainment ever, and to say they were a success is an understatement. The Williamsburg waterfront venue was quite the captivating setting and reminded me of how beautiful of a place we live in.

Little did I realize then, I’d miss that era of the Brooklyn music scene real hard for a real long time.

Grizzly Bear performing in Brooklyn on August 30, 2009

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Abbey Ley

Hello! I'm an art director, motion designer and writer living in Brooklyn, NY.