4Knots Festival

South Street Seaport / New York, NY

Guided By Voices by Bryan Bruchman
Guided By Voices by Bryan Bruchman

The rain held off. It may have looked like it was gonna pour all day, but it wasn’t until Guided by Voices left the stage and the festival was over that it actually started dripping. 4Knots is the annual festival thrown by the Village Voice (replacing their dearly departed Siren Fest out at Coney Island) that features mostly indie up-and-coming bands. This year that included Diane Coffee, one of my favorite new bands. Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming leads the band through bombastic, funky pop almost like Meat Loaf you can dance to. Fleming was decked out in glitter and spandex as he carried his band through an energetic set.

Another new favorite band of mine, Car Seat Headrest, plays nerdy rock’n’roll with very honest lyrics reminiscent of 90’s indie rock. Frontman and songwriter Will Toledo ably powered through an epic set featuring one of my favorite songs of this year, the rambling ode to Van Gogh and depression, “Vincent.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Protomartyr. Although I’ve never had a lot of affection for them, they sounded great as they blasted through their Devo and Wire-indebted post-punk jams, including the killer “Ain’t So Simple.” Unfortunately another band I was looking forward to, Girlpool, suffered from bad sound and a talkative audience which left me unsatisfied.

Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest by Bryan Bruchman
Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest by Bryan Bruchman

Finally it was time for Guided by Voices to take the stage. I may be biased, but they were amazing! Frontman Robert Pollard recently reformed the band with a mostly new lineup (excluding the fantastic returning drummer Kevin March) after recording a new GBV album where he played all the instruments. Seeing as the band has none of its original members besides “Uncle Bob,” the live show included stuff from many of Pollard’s solo records and side projects. To a diehard like me, it was awesome to hear deep cuts like the lovely “Arrow and Balloons” from his 2010 solo album Moses on a Snail, or the crunchy Boston Spaceships song “Tabby and Lucy.” However, it was clear that most of the crowd really perked up for certified GBV classics like “Game of Pricks” or “Glad Girls.” The band took a very brief encore break before realizing they had enough time before the festival’s strict curfew to bash out “Motor Away,” and the surprised crowd pretty much lost their minds. All in all, a great day.

– Layne Montgomery

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