The trippy mist that hit the South Street Seaport made for a terminally-chill crowd at 4Knots on Saturday, and everyone gladly sank into the cushy white clouds the day had delivered. The free summer fest from the Village Voice, which has already become a NYC tradition since it set sail in ‘11, once again coaxed the hippest of hip to the edge of the island with the bait of new indie rock music and a waterfront breeze. With this year’s lineup heading for the three stages, you could tell it was going to be a good one.
Early afternoon brought us some instant highlights as we beat a path between the Pier 16 Stage and the Fulton Stage. Boulevards had no trouble rocking an early set time, and were firing up the Fulton crowd just after 1:30pm with their bold, retro sound. Bayonne was also happy to tear things up early, getting everyone moving around the same stage. The much-loved Mothers were definitely worth sprinting to Pier 16 for, and they rewarded us with some good beachy vibes right from the start. Opening with “Copper Mines” from their new LP, Kristine Leschper’s sinuous vocals could have beckoned ships from the sea.
And she wasn’t the only siren on the bill. The crowd was soon seduced by the magic that is Diane Coffee (aka Shaun Fleming), in a robust set that became a favorite for the festival. With two full costumes, a layer of glitter, and nonstop expressions of shock and awe, his stage presence was sensational, and dripping with decades of classic influences. Diane Coffee’s stellar set was made up of songs like “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be,” “All The Young Girls,” “Everyday,” “Green,” and one big question from the star: “Where’s the love gone, New York?!” Not far, thanks to him.
4Knots chilled out significantly with the arrival of Car Seat Headrest, whose lo-fi, indie sound was as cozy as their name – especially on jams like “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.” The ultra-mellow Mild High Club also kept us swaying on the shore, Alex Brettin’s propeller hat twirling as they grooved in a grassy haze. Over at the Pier 16 Stage, Protomartyr’s cool, post-punk attitude was earning them a big crowd. Only the intense harmonies of Girlpool (Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad) could tempt them all back to the Fulton stage just in time.
As surrounding ships creaked and groaned, adding Scooby Doo-style suspense between bands, The Strumbellas’ sunshiney sound broke the silence in a big way. The folk-rock six-piece kept an upbeat set with crowd-pleasers like “Wars,” “Young & Wild,” and the hopeful “We Don’t Know,” while the crowd soaked up doses of salty air to the sound of their strings.
When they made way for fellow headliners Guided By Voices, fans were chanting “GBV!” and cheering for Robert Pollard’s every move. Their generous setlist was over 25 songs strong, even featuring some side-project material from Ricked Wicky (“What Are All Those Paint Men Digging?”, “Poor Substitute”) and Boston Spaceships (“Question Girl All Right,” “Tabby & Lucy”). GBV treated the seafaring crowd to an encore of “Motor Away” – and after a day like that, it was the last thing anyone wanted to do.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley