By Maria Gotay & Loren DiBlasi
Last week we highly recommended going to check out The Village Voice’s 4Knots Festival, a one-day marathon music extravaganza last Saturday at South Street Seaport. The lineup consisted heavily of punk bands, from the psychadelic Heliotropes to the garage punks Hunters to the excellent post-punk jammers Parquet Courts. Wildcards included clever rapper Fat Tony, freakpop Marnie Stern and headliner Kurt Vile, who favor Dylan-like soundwriting and acoustic melodies. Besides awesome music, there was a little of everything to be observed – sailboats, costumes, photobooths, boozy crowds, babies with headphones, and a lot of free shit. Read on for our highlights, photos of bands and sexy concert-goers, and a Spotify playlist!
The festival, now in its third year, was an evolution of Siren Festival (remember?) that had a similar format of two stages in a heavily trafficked area. Heliotropes and Hunters set the scene for a rare gender-balanced festival. This year’s 4knots featured many women epically taking the stage – screaming, yelping, shaking a tambourine, ripping at guitar, or just being an unforgettable presence on stage. Heliotopes‘ set was heavy, dark, and bordering on gothic, although their recent album, A Constant Sea, showcases a softer, more melodic side to their sound. Hunters’ performance was as expected – dark, racing, full of riot – led by frontwoman Isabel Almeida racing around the stage. They’re unfortunately not on Spotify, but you can listen to them here.
There was a lot of sponsor activity that made the fest verrry accommodating to attendees – free wifi, cell charging, and sampling from a ton of sponsors, and delicious hot dogs from Los Perros Locos. We (and lots of others) even walked away with a complimentary pair of Marshall’s headphones, thanks to their hourly giveaways!
Fat Tony was an unexpected but excellent addition to the festival. Hailing from Houston, his flow literally flies to the scrappy minimalist beats, and his lyrics are at times insightful and at others straight out hilarious. He premiered a new, exclusive version to his song “BKNY,” in which he broke down exactly how sweet the borough is. Too bad we were in Manhattan!
White Lung, hailing with praise from Vancouver, was the most traditionally punk on the bill and they raced through their loud set with energy and drive but not all that much pizzaz. The Babies, another local band, lightened the mood with their sunny, indie rock jingles.
Parquet Courts have the ability to outshine almost any other band that performs before, after, or during their set, and this was no exception. We previously labelled them a “Band to Watch” and they have blown up since then. To those who’ve heard most recent LP Light Up Gold – and for those who haven’t, like, get on that – it’s no secret that PC’s brand of fast, furious, curiously clever punk is essentially irresistible to all who experience it. Set highlights included sweaty dance jam favorites like “Borrowed Time,” “Master of My Craft,” and “Yonder is Closer to the Heart.” Crowd surfers soared, iced coffee was thrown, and it was as wild as a 4PM riot could be.
As the day went on, shade seemed to extend itself in honor of The Men, another Brooklyn band who proceeded to blanket the crowd with their ever-evolving collection of eclectic punk sounds. The local masters of noise-punk certainly brought the goods, although the country influence that reigns over this year’s New Moon pretty much dominated their set. The performance’s rousing finale came when, with the arrival of those familiar, stirring chords, The Men ripped into a ferocious cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that would have left Iggy proud.
After Reigning Sound wrapped up their penultimate set of punk-soul prowess, 4knots’ main man and headliner, Kurt Vile, finally arrived. The sun had begun to set and the crowd swelled to double (or even triple) its original size, creating the perfect atmosphere for those good vibes of the Violators. Fittingly clad in white-on-white, Vile brought out the best of his easy, breezy summertime tunes, ending 4knots on the perfect nautical note.