Features | Festivals

A Trip to 4Knots, or: Corey, Adam, and Kaylen Get Drunk on a Pirate Ship

By Corey Beasley, Adam Downer, and Kaylen Hann | 29 July 2014

Ah, summertime, that magical season of music festivals—the chance to pack your sweat-slick body onto a strip of asphalt or shoe-sucking mud with a few thousand of your closest friends, the humid air scented with Axe body spray and marijuana and the pheromone factories of horrifyingly youthful flesh, a band who toured your city three weeks ago in a mid-sized venue now onstage in the skin-popping sun for you to watch with a nine-dollar Heineken Light. And, if you’re lucky, you get to sleep in a tent on the hard ground while roving packs of frat dudes on MDMA roam the blasted heath in search of more drugs, semi-consensual sex, or some combination thereof. Who wouldn’t pay $500 for the experience of a lifetime?

Yeah. Us neither.

In other words, if you’re trying to get Corey, Kaylen, and Adam to your festival, you’d better have some of the Glow’s favorite bands at a reasonable price. And, since we never really feel like leaving the Glow’s loft/office/brewery/mini-golf course in the spire of Manhattan’s new Freedom Tower, you better also throw in—oh, I don’t know—a PIRATE SHIP press area docked next to the festival to ply us with free drinks. Ha ha. See you never, suckers.

What’s that, 4Knots? You’re located in Manhattan, by the shore, with a breeze? And you’ve got Glow-approved acts Speedy Ortiz, Viet Cong, AND Juan Wauters? Dinosaur, Jr., too? And it’s free and lasts from 1PM-8PM like a normal human event for normal functional human adults with actual jobs to work and lives to live? That’s all well and good, but we meant what we said about drinking shandy on a pirate ship. Hm? Yes, I’ll hold.

And that’s how we ended up watching some cool bands from a boat.

The short version: 4Knots, hosted by the Village Voice at NYC’s South Street Seaport, has CMG’s full endorsement as a perfectly pleasant way to spend an afternoon watching music, drinking and eating stuff, and generally not coming to hate humanity as a whole in the manner of most other cramped, overstuffed festivals. Two stages, local vendors, a solid lineup without any of-the-moment hypebeast to clog the floor—what more could you want?

Adam, sporting a normal amount of suncreen, and Corey, in a full-body beekeeper’s suit, arrived in time to catch the end of openers Radkey on the main stage. Three very young men (brothers, apparently) from the Midwest playing pogo-friendly pop-punk with plenty of “whoa-oh”s—all of it reminded Corey too much of his own crushing mortality, so he and Adam rushed onboard the press ship for booze and better views, happy to swab the deck while Pitchfork editors reclined high on the mizzen mast.

Kaylen texted to say she would be eating breakfast at 2PM, in time-honored Glow fashion, and would be late. Meanwhile, Corey nimbly dispatched a pink cocktail and watched a classroom’s worth of small Asian children holding their ears at Speedy Ortiz’s soundcheck while their teacher guided them down the pier. The band sounded every bit as solid without founding member Matt Robidoux, who left the band earlier this summer, running through quite a bit of thorny, aggressive new material. Sadie Dupuis’s riffs stopped and started with pinpoint precision, her band following suit with hook after hook spun into stop-start dynamics. “Crunchy as fuck,” Corey, a person who was awarded a Master’s degree in creative writing, was heard to remark. He also came up with a lede along the lines of Speedy Ortiz’s Future As Bright As Sadie Dupuis’s Neon Socks!, but he’d never actually write that down.

Juan Wauters drew a sizable crowd to the smaller, second stage, all of whom seemed to enjoy his breezy, earnest pop. We wished Maura had been there to celebrate and to teach us how to pronounce his last name. Instead, Kaylen arrived in time for Viet Cong—BACK TO THE SHIP. Avast, etc. Shandy, starboard. Bud Light, port. (As in: Kaylen, to her credit, had a Shandy in her starboard hand and a Bud Light in her port hand almost immediately. Sea legs, that one.)

Viet Cong were as tight and composed as you’d expect from Women’s rhythm section. Adam transcended space and time during “Bunker Buster” to become a beam of pure light. Billing the band—who have not released a proper debut LP—above Speedy Ortiz seemed strange, but Viet Cong’s set suggested a professionalism and confidence that, if replicated on a forthcoming full-length, would easily be one of the year’s strongest releases and one of the most exciting debuts in recent memory. See them when you can.

Those Darlins came on and played some songs, though we’re having a hard time remembering any of them. We do recall that they seemed seconds away from lapsing into a “Barracuda” cover for their entire set. The closest thing to a blog-hype cash-in at 4Knots came next: Mac DeMarco. We’re aware he received a favorable review in these very pages not too long ago, but consider this trio unified in its strident, noble dissent. Mac DeMarco is the human equivalent of a tank-top farmer’s tan. His weightless, utterly inconsequential smirks—or songs, depending on whom you’re asking—proved too breezy even for a breezy summer festival. The large crowd that gathered at the start of his set didn’t take long to start streaming away from the stage to the cell-phone charging station and other, more cutting-edge attractions.

Dinosaur, Jr.’s headlining set promised to obliterate the weed smoke haze of DeMarco’s snooze of a set by replacing it with better weed and also incredible guitar heroics from one of the best bands of all time. But we’ll level with you. We were tired, drunk, and sunburned. In the end, you don’t need us to tell you Dinosaur Jr. is great. We left early and watched Planet of the Apes in 3D. Would we have been able to enjoy hot ape-on-ape action without 4Knots and its smoothly orchestrated, rock’n’roll-pumping, alcoholically generous, all around good-times vibes settling us into contented, glassy-eyed languor? We don’t want to think about that. Instead, we’re looking forward to next year already.