Springlike temperatures and calm seas were the perfect backdrop for the sixth edition of the Village Voice’s 4Knots Music Festival, which drew a crowd of 10,000 over a partly cloudy afternoon. A blissfully mellow crowd that migrated between both stages spent most of the day grooving to a wide-ranging lineup.
Clear beach balls bounced through the crowd near the Periscope- and Instagram-friendly front of the main stage, where Robert Pollard’s most recent lineup for Guided By Voices headlined. The band has swapped out members several times during their career of thirty-ish years, but you wouldn’t know it; they sounded as tight as ever blazing through a setlist that spanned almost their entire catalogue. (“Do Something Real” inspired particularly passionate sing-alongs and headbangs.)
Just before them were the Strumbellas, purveyors of an unlikely fusion of alt-country and “folk popgrass” that nonetheless charmed the audience. They were quite a change after Protomartyr, whose noise-rock experimentation drew a large crowd clearly there just for them. Earlier in the day, Car Seat Headrest also drew out the rockers, and fans who showed up first thing were treated to an impressive set by Voice cover-story star Kirk Knight, who showed off his stylistic amalgam of classic and new-school hip-hop.
Not all the action was on the main stage, though. Across South Street an undeniably lit crowd surrounded Fulton Stage, which hosted headliners Girlpool, plus Boulevards, Bayonne, Mild High Club, and Diane Coffee. The latter incited a frenetic level of crowd engagement, charming fans with folk-pop and doo-wop tracks from 2015’s Everybody’s a Good Dog.
Here are some of our favorite musings overheard (and read) at the festival:
“I listened to him for like four hours on Spotify last night to get ready for this set.” — a studious Protomartyr fan, in reference to frontman Joe Casey
“Yeah. He’s kind of old to be doing this though.” — the studious fan’s friend
“Bruh, I can’t believe that baby is sleeping through Protomartyr.” — an astonished companion of said baby’s dad
“Who gets in the East River voluntarily? They’re going to grow an extra arm.” — someone baffled by kayaking tourists
“Well. There go his shoes.” — a fan watching Strumbellas frontman Simon Ward strut the stage in socks
“This dude is really in his feelings.” — another Ward observer, later in the set