The Village Voice's second annual 4Knots Festival at Manhattan's South Street Seaport. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
Between a mid-afternoon three-alarm fire on the pier at South Street Seaport, crowd revolts at Beekman Beer Garden, and enough free food and booze to make the VIP crowd feel like the stationary ship they were on was actually moving, it certainly felt like Bastille Day at The Village Voice's free 4Knots Festival. Named after the speed of the East River at that location, 4Knots took the place of the Voice's long-running Siren Festival at Coney Island, which was discontinued last year. For its second year-- fortified by sponsors including Captain Morgan, PopChips, Bud Light, and Dr. Martens-- the fledgling festival pulled out all the stops for a stacked lineup that kept the party going through the balmy daylight hours and well into the night.
A three-alarm fire wafting from Pier 17 during the 4Knots Festival. Fortunately there were no injuries and the festival continued. (Photo: Matthew Lineham)
At the smaller Skippers Stage, experimental pop outfit Doldrums and one-man garage rock sensation Devin (albeit with a full backing band) kicked-started an otherwise cloudy day, but it wasn't until Team Spirit took the stage that things took off. Featuring DOM's guitarist Cosmo diGiulio and fronted by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy, who was celebrating his newly acquired green card, Team Spirit's spastic pop-punk definitely had their namesake in abundance, ripping through summer-y cuts like "Fuck the Beach" and "Teenage Love." "Keep it going!" Adhamy cried at one point to a small but forceful mosh pit, bouncing the festival's ubiquitous beach balls off of each other.
Deicate Steve took to the stage as FDNY boats arrived to fight the flames. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
Delicate Steve took the stage shortly thereafter, right as some mysterious smoke started billowing out from behind the Seaport mall about half a football field away. The band was about two songs deep into their new album, Positive Force, when several FDNY boats pulled up across the harbor and let off a platoon of firefighters.
The Sperry-clad, "I'm On A Boat" crowd-- which included the Voice's marketing and events manager, Christina Pettit; Mercury Lounge talent buyer Sebastian Freed; Big Hassle's Brooke Black and Lallie Jones; Tell All Your Friends publicist Kip Kouri, rocking a very stylish pair of yellow board shorts; Lyssa Thompson from Dead Oceans/Secretly Canadian; Matador radio director Hector Montes; Sound of the City contributor and Frenchkiss publicist Francesca Stabile; journalists Chris Chafin and Jamie Peck, who were covering the event for the Voice; Mute Records' Sarah Lowe; and freelance photographers Faith Silva and Anna Webber-- could only watch and make "my hose is longer than yours" jokes or talk about an incognito MTV reporter who supposedly had a nose job as New York City's finest contained the blaze. The conflagration unfortunately forced Delicate Steve to cut his great set shot, but the rest of the performances at the Main Stage were permitted to continue.
(Ed Note: The fire occurred on nearby Pier 17 around 4:00 p.m. and was classified as a three-alarm blaze. Fortunately, no injuries were reported).
Nick Waterhouse (right) with a friend who calls himself Dante. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
Easily the most stylish in a sea (pun intended) of stylish people, retro-soul crooner Nick Waterhouse opened the afternoon and then headed over to the VIP boat-- along with the rest of the musicians before and after their sets-- to take advantage of the free black and gingers, Barefoot Wine, LandSharkLager, pretzel bites, chicken wings, and chocolate chip cookies. He mingled with the likes of Al Adhamy; Florida shoegazers The Band In Heaven; Crocodiles vocalist and co-founder Brandon Welchez; Los Angeles Bleached/beach babes Jennifer and Jessica Clavin; Caveman frontman Matt Iwanusa; Hospitality bassist Brian Betancourt, who shares string duties with fellow Brooklynites White Rabbits; Delicate Steve's eponymous frontman Steve Marion; and The Drums' Jonathan Pierce, who gamely posed for a shot even though this reporter got so excited when she saw his signature blond mop that she interrupted his in-progress interview.
The Drums' Jonny Pierce (left) with friend acquiesces to a mid-interview photoshoot. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
It's safe to say that Jennifer Clavin kicked the most pirate's booty in her signature oxblood Docs, but her band's old-school girl-group punk, Crocodiles' muddy skuzz-rock, and wistful whistles and beats of The Drums-- who, like Team Spirit, fittingly chose nautically-themed tracks like older cut "Let's Go Surfing" (but not "Down by the Water")-- all proved equally hard acts to follow for '90s lo-fi stalwarts and festival headliners Archers of Loaf, who took the stage about an hour later than expected due to the fire. At that point, the increasingly woozy passengers were just trying to stay afloat before the event's official afterparty, featuring the notoriously raucous Black Lips, DJ Jonathan Toubin, and Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds, due to start immediately after the band finished.
Former Black Lips member Jack Hines, Black Lips lead guitarist Ian Saint Pe, and band manager Jamie Farkas of Vice Records (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
With everyone from 4Knots who wasn't a tourist heading to Beekman at the same time, the entrance to the venue jammed, especially when security allowed only oneperson through the concrete barricades at a time. Eventually, everyone got in, seated themselves on the sand pit's glowing couches, and continued drinking to Kid Congo, a.k.a. Jonathan Toubin's good friend Brian Tristan-- who has played with The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and The Gun Club, and uncannily resembles Lionel Richie-- opened the night with garage rock in the vein of Black Lips but several notches tamer.
Backstage, Black Lips lead guitarist Ian Saint Pe and frontman and bassist Jared Swilley hung out with their manager, Vice Records' Jamie Farkas, and former Black Lips guitarist and vocalist Jack Hines, who insisted I photograph his tattoo. When I asked Swilley if the band would play any instruments with male-specific body parts, as they've been known to do in the past, he informed me they weren't planning on it. We'll never know, however, if he foresaw the onstage make-out between Saint Pe and rhythm guitarist Cole Alexander.
After the party, there's the after party: People get ready for Black Lips (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
While Toubin, Waterhouse, and dancer Anna Copa Cabana watched from the sidelines, the crowd started surging through the metal barrier around the photographer pit, eventually pushing the barricade out of the way altogether. The security staff let them -- some even stopping to take pictures with their phone -- but they drew the line when Alexander tried to stage-dive, prompting the band to tell them to "calm the fuck down" and start chanting, "Fuck that shit!", which the audience quickly picked up and shouted right back to the band for the rest of the night. The rest of the night devolved into stuff of Beekman legend but just another Black Lips show, with people crowd-surfing, spitting beer, wandering around onstage, and throwing toilet paper for rowdier tracks like Arabia Mountain's "Modern Art" and "Family Tree".
From left: Black Lips' Ian Saint Pe, Jared Swilley, and Cole Alexander. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
Thoroughly spent, much of the audience, who wasn't already kicked-out. left as the Beekman staff cleaned the sweaty, beer-soaked stage so Toubin could set up his turntables. The DJ kept people dancing and closed out what could objectively be described as a rather eventful day.
Post-script: The Village Voice today released an apology on the "aggressive nature of the security guards/bouncers" at the Beekman Beer Garden after party which said the following:
"The Village Voice is aware of the complaints about the aggressive nature of the security guards/bouncers at the 4Knots Music Festival After-Party and is taking them very seriously. These security guards/bouncers were not 4Knots employees, nor were they contracted through The Village Voice or 4Knots Music Festival. They work independently for the Beekman Beer Garden. Due to their actions with our audience, we will not be working with them again in the future. We apologize to anyone who was affected that evening."