On Saturday, it was smooth sailing for the annual 4Knots Music Festival, attracting hundreds to South Street Seaport. What else do you expect when Village Voice and Big Picture Media join forces?
Offering a full day of music for free, 4Knots has become quite popular in just its fourth year, featuring performers like Those Darlins, Mac DeMarco and Dinosaur Jr. Hours before his set, Dinosaur Jr. frontman J. Mascis casually walked around the grounds, shaking hands with fans who felt all too nervous in his ethereal presence. When he and the band took the stage as the festival’s closing act, time stood still. That’s what happens when a band has been at it for nearly 30 years. The songs hold special places in people’s hearts, like the first time you fell in love, got your heart broken, or made sense of the world. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, save a spot for Dinosaur Jr.
Earlier in the day, Those Darlins, one of Nashville’s leading acts, who recently performed at Bonnaroo and Lebowski Fest, competed with the 80-degree weather in heating things up. Guitarists/vocalists Jessi Zazu and Nikki Kvarnes bring to mind younger versions of Patti Smith and Joan Jett, resilient women who remain true to themselves and their art, and as a result, give us something to believe in. And I’m not just talking about us women. In fact, there were more guys rocking out front row this weekend during Those Darlins’ set than girls.
Zazu and Kvarnes clicked instantly the very first time they met. According to Zazu, “I asked Nikki, ‘So what do you do?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I play the baritone ukulele and I like Woody Guthrie.’ And I was like, ‘I play guitar and I love the Carter family!’ And we ended up figuring out in that very moment, somehow, that both our moms were artists who used to take dead animals off the road and put them in their freezers so they could freeze them and then draw them. So it was like, ‘Your mom does that, too?!?’” Never having met anyone else with that fact in common (understandably), they took it as a sign. Together, Zazu and Kvarnes committed themselves to achieving the success Those Darlins now have, on the heels of their third album, Blur the Line. “We have bands that open for us now…it’s them roughing it in the tiny van that we used to have,” Zazu said. “Now we have a slightly bigger van.”
It’s good to be a Mac DeMarco fan in New York simply because he performs here quite often. But you couldn’t tell by the reaction of the crowd, who acted as though they’ve waited all damn year to fall under his psychedelic spell. After his set, he climbed aboard the Peking (one of the historic sailing ships docked at South Street Seaport), where a fan bestowed a rather unusual gift upon him: a pig fetus sporting a tattoo of Demarco as a merman. Nothing says I love you more—except maybe a free music festival in one of the greatest cities in the world. See you next year, 4Knots.