The concert itself was a mixed bag musically—you could tell from the opening sample by the Colombian “turntablists” RVSB, Simon Says by the Pharoahe Monchs, personal pinash for obvious reasons but decidedly not family-friendly with its loud, direct and numerous f-bombs. But that mixed bag was part of the charm of the Celebrate Brooklyn experience, there in Prospect Park, in a simultaneously spacious but cozy bandshell surrounded by a crowd as diverse as any with its decidedly “hipster family” aesthetic. The food served was in top neo-American form as they served gourmet ice cream sandwiches on caramel cookies and pulled pork over traditional grits, each portion designed to perfection. There were more interracial couples than we’ve seen in one place, avid, shirt-waving dancers and blanket loungers alike.
Brooklyn has a fierce non-conformity about it, which matched perfectly the Latin alternative music emanating from the rainbow-backed stage, a genre self-proclaimed to contain elements of funk, hip-hop and traditional salsa. At times it felt like listening to a Carlos Santana bachata playing over grooves written by the Temptations; at other times it was aggressive rapping or slow, pulsing Spanish love songs set to the backing track of a Disney production. From the three groups, the poignant highlight was an Argentinian set Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas, featuring two drummers, two guitarists, a bass, a singer and a full brass section. During that sweet forty five minutes, the whole park cheered and danced in gleeful unison. Adaora brought out the cha-cha, and our friends helped us decide on English titles for incomprehensible songs with punchlines often sounding suspiciously like “funky cockroach” or “aquaman culo.”
The whole arena had the feel of a children’s paradise with a grassy expanse and circus lights surrounded by a vibrant crowd, the occasional wafting of a certain raucous woodland animal, and the distant tapping of bongo drums unfazed by the adjacent concert. It was a gorgeous summer evening to share the company of friends, and our focus was continually brought back to the center stage by ever-changing and highly entertaining musical styles. We are neither a hipster family nor Argentinian, Colombian or Puerto Rican, but it is precisely that mix of differing nuclear families, culinary regimes and dancing styles that brought us there. Slowly but surely, we are falling in love with Brooklyn.
Hey, isn’t that Seven Nation Army? Sounds damn fine over James Brown…