Why Village Voice’s annual 4Knots fest is not one of the marquee events of summer, I will never understand. It’s a full, glorious day of garage rock and guitar heavies playing with a beautiful view of the water and the skyline of downtown Manhattan, and it’s free. You can just walk up and start having a good time. There’s no lines, no wristbands, no weird camping – just an awesome view and awesome bands. 4Knots line ups are always streets ahead of the other festivals, with the kind of bands that pepper the small-font of festival posters getting the space they deserve to breath. This year was no exception – with critical darlings like Mothers and Car Seat Headrest playing along true legends Guided by Voices.
The day started off early for us this year at 4Knots. We rolled into South Street Sea Port just post ice coffee just in time for Boulevards. The NYC based funk artist was the perfect energy shot to start the day – with a set so active he was able to turn the early-afternoon crowd into a frenzy despite the high noon sun. From there stayed at the Fulton street stage for Bayonne who offered the same wild energy as Boulevards, jumping around and adding hefty percussion to his tracks.
Mothers gathered a healthy crowd for an early afternoon set, though it was hardly a surprise to see. The Athens, GA based band has been making waves for their expertly crafted indie rock for a while. The band made the large Pier 16 stage feel like a vibey set in a club and filled the port with amazingly angular guitars. From there we ran back to the Fulton Stage to catch Diane Coffee, whose clever indie-rock is matched by his captivating stage presence. In terms of straight up best show, Diane Coffee’s ease on stage and affable presence handily won the day.
From there we headed back to the Pier to catch they incredible post-punk Protomartyr who’s blistering set proved that they are definitely one of the best and most interesting rock outfits playing today. After a quick run for much needed sustenance, we moved over to the last set on the Fulton Stage, Girlpool. Though they were perhaps the most subdued set of the day, they still maintained the energy that characterized the Fulton stage all day.
The Strumbellas were the strangest fit of the day, their roots style not really fitting in with the rock and punk vibes of the rest of the band. But they were such a delight to watch that after a couple songs it didn’t even matter. Finally, with the exhaustion and the slight day-hangover setting in Guided by Voices took the stage. The legends proved that they are still as vital as ever with their set of tracks from their huge and impressivly awesome catalog. It was a blast to end the day with one of the greatest alt-rock bands of the 90s throwing down and made us remember why 4Knots is easily one of the best festivals we go to – it’s just fucking fun from start to finish.
Mild High Club