Such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it at 4Knots Music Festival. The weather was gorgeous, as was the backdrop, the music was ace, the people were congenial, and there was never a dull moment. There were two stages, with sets timed one right after the other, so there were super minimal pauses between performances until the last three sets, which were all on the main stage.
Headliners Kurt Vile & The Violators (above) treated us well, with a balanced mix of tunes from his last three albums, and plenty of jam outs. Vile first took the stage with a humble air, and looking completely relaxed and cool in all white, right down to his classic white Converse that did all the stepping on effects pedals and all the see-sawing on the wah-wah. The band had the whole last hour to play all their hits, like “Jesus Fever” early on, going all the way to an especially rocked out jammy version of “Freak Train.” He has this power to be both relaxing and rousing, with his wise but easy going psychedelic folk songs in a style all his own. Pair that with his drawling vocals, and you have a signature sound that’s hard not to fall for. His hometown of Philadelphia loves him enough to declare – by mayoral decree – August 28 as Kurt Vile Day. On that date the city will bestow The Liberty Bell to him. A cracked bell to honor one man’s poetically cracked song craft. Society is his friend.
Right behind Kurt Vile on the highlight scale was both The Men and Parquet Courts. Both of these bands played a high energy show, with impassioned vocals and riffs for days. Parquet Courts still sound like Mission of Burma Jr. for me, and I still like it. “Stoned and Starving” was the most recognizable, with front man Andrew Savage singing that hook, “I was walking through “Ridgewood Queens” in a Jonathan Richman-esque manner for anyone who has ever been indecisive about what snack they want when thinking is hard but you need food and drink already. “Swedish Fish, roasted peanuts or licorice” are all tough calls, but the most logical decision is to just dance and jump, while singing the words to the person next to you. Parquet Courts (below) were maybe the most promising band on the 4Knots lineup, having recently opened for The Breeders, premiering a short documentary, and currently having a list of tour dates a mile long.
The Men (below) were a little more eclectic and complex in their sound. Following a no-one-is-frontman maxim, the five-piece is made up of all “multi-instrumentalists” who rock hard at whatever they do. They incited the first crowd surfing of the day, triggering the security guys to rush over to where the bodies were being held aloft. Guitarist/vocalist Nick Chiericozzi gave them a playful admonishing, pointing out that the crowd surfer was just having a good time, and asking, “what’s wrong with that?”
That hadn’t been the first mosh pit, though, as Vancouver punk band White Lung got that going before there was even that many people at the fest. Vocalist Mish Way yelled out percussive, unrelenting lyrics, while guitarist Kenneth Williams, bassist Grady Mackintosh, and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou charged through straightforward punk songs like a machine gun.
Rapper Fat Tony got people dancing in a different way even earlier in the day, with his lyrical rhyming that gave big shout outs to Brooklyn. The way he repped the borough, if I didn’t know better I would have thought he was born and raised there. Instead, this Houston native was more like a chameleon, managing to fit right into a majority lineup of solid indie rock and punk, soaking up the NYC sun and reflecting a colorful vibe back at all the booty shakers on the boardwalk. I sure left feeling like I had a full and fulfilling day with everything I needed: music, food and drink, friends, and of course imbibing on a boat. Yeah, that was a good day.