4Knots Music Festival: Oberhofer, Davila 666
Saturday, June 16
South Street Seaport
Better than: Retreating from the afternoon heat.
In her essay “Hot Music for Long Nights” Maura Johnston nailed what makes New York City summer shows so wonderful. Such shows, she writes, “[allow] music lovers and casual fans to sample acts they’ve only read about, visit parks located in parts of the city that have nothing to do with their daily routines, rub elbows with other aficionados, and take chances on acts that might reside outside of their comfort zones, or even outside of their iTunes libraries.” Replace “parks” with “piers” and the inaugural 4Knots captured an easy “all of the above.”
Hell, by relocating to South Street Seaport, the festival opened up even beyond music lovers and casual fans, drawing in even the matching shirt-wearing family-reunion-in-New-York-City! types (in other words, the type that prefer their Williamsburgs colonial) for, who would have a guessed, a set from the best punk band Puerto Rico has to offer.
That would be Davila 666, who, when paired with Oberhofer preceding them, offered two different examples of how to win over a crowd. Let the record show that Oberhofer played some great tunes (busting out “I Could Go,” a song that’s anthemic by twee pop standards, early in the set was a good move, building up some momentum that the band would ride through closer “o0Oo0Oo”), but they didn’t really get the crowd on their side until frontman Brad Oberhofer began interjecting some half-to-fully-baked stage banter, most of which concerned the greatness of summer, the greatness of friends, or the greatness of the combination of summer and friends. It was hard not to concede to him all three.
In order to make the Seaport theirs, Davila 666, on the other hand, did work. The classic “act that might reside outside [the audience’s] comfort zone,” the group—all six of them—played a relentless set that had the crowd (save for a few smart-alecks who thought it funny to translate the band’s most obvious Spanish phrases) moshing despite knowing few of the words. It’s a more impressive feat than it sounds on paper, and served as good rest for a pier full of vocal cords that were about to be ravished by Titus Andronicus’s scream-along. I’m guessing that by next time this crew comes to town, some comfort zones will be expanded and some iTunes libraries will have a little more Puerto Rican punk rock on them. And who knows? Maybe a few more people will be singing along when their next mosh pit forms.
Critical bias: Again…
Overheard: That ironic translating thing, and quite a bit. The first time, it was kind of funny; by the end I wanted to go back on the VIP boat and drown myself in Landshark and those almost-healthy potato chips.
Random notebook dump: “Would love to see these guys [Davila 666] in a tiny, crowded room.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2011