Saturday’s 4Knots Festival sounded off at South Street Seaport with packed performances from Dinosaur Jr., Mac Demarco and eight more bands. In its fourth year, the growing event spanned across two stages with a smattering of trendy food trucks and freebie-wielding sponsors.
The performers played music ranging from indie pop to rock, alt and punk, but most performers fit a ’90s grunge theme.
Headliner Dinosaur Jr. had its heyday during the 1990s and played to a younger crowd at 4Knots Music Festival. The band gave a well-fueled show of its best hits that lasted more than 90 minutes. The crowd's favorite was a cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven."
Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis played well with the band, but his crackling, wailing vocals were sometimes lost at sea -- the main stage overlooked the water with no backdrop to bounce sound back toward the audience. Speakers lining the stage at the side were hidden behind sponsor banners, likely contributing to the muffled audio.
The fest's second bill was headed by one of the summer's most demanded indie newcomers, Mac Demarco. He's typically a fun machine as he bumbles around the stage flailing, but 4Knots saw a more focused and reserved Mac. Mac has played festivals such as Pitchfork in Paris and Bluesfest in Ottowa, and he'll play Austin City Limits in the fall. Friendly and spirited, Mac mingled among fans on the way out to take pictures.
The day's standout set came from Those Darlins, a Tennessee "country-punk" quartet with two female leads whose voices match perfectly and sound a bit like Tegan and Sara with more rockabilly grit. They played fun guitar riffs on short, catchy tunes with spunk.
The acclaimed Speedy Ortiz played earlier in the day to a smaller crowd. 4Knots releases set times the morning of the festival out of tradition, but the band may have seen higher attendance with more notice. Set times were hard to follow in some areas with scant signage.
The grounds at 4Knots however were spacious, well laid out and mapped clearly in programming. The event was sufficiently staffed and smoothly operated overall. Like 4Knots on Facebook or check out the Village Voice website for more coverage.