With the River to River Festival, Central Park Summerstage, and the McCarren Park Pool Parties all started (or starting) this month, New York City certainly isn’t lacking for means to drag its rock bands up from the dimly lit recesses of the city’s usual venues and out, blinking in confusion at the change of setting, into the summertime sunlight. Or springtime sunlight, at least for another couple days. The distinction actually matters, as last Sunday saw the return one of the most informal, esoteric, and unpredictable of the outdoor show circuit, Todd P’s Springtime Unamplified Accoustic BBQ.
The spectacle unfolded on a broad expanse of grassy public parkland the southern terminus of Roosevelt Island, against (pivoting in a slow circle) the highrises of the Upper East Side, the U.N., the East River sweeping out and under the Williamsburg Bridge, the giant Queens Pepsi sign, or the Queensborough Bridge, arcing over the weather-and-time-gutted shell of an 1850s-era smallpox hospital. A communal grill was running all day, fed by donated charcoal and hot dogs, and drinks surreptitiously circulated in plastic cups. As public space, the park required no booking, and was secluded enough for any amount of racket without anyone nearby to disturb. And, facing the constraints imposed by having no electrical outlets in sight, more than 20 bands and performers stepped up onto one of several impromptu “stages” (“beach blankets”) to play a quick set.