MANHATTAN, NY—Synthesizers, samples and loops dominate radio and music sales charts, but at the 4Knots Music Festival at the South Street Seaport, it was the jangly, noisy guitar that ruled. In the past, the two stages were near each other, so as the music stopped at one stage, the music began at the next stage. This year the stages were two blocks away, so there was some overlap in time, but one could still catch a lot of great music by going back and forth.
Radkey are a melodic punk rock trio of brothers from St. Joseph, Missouri. Lead guitarist Dee Radkey, bassist Isaiah Radkey and drummer Solomon Radkey range in age from 16 to 20. Despite a five-minute interval where the sound suddenly shut down during the performance, Radkey kept it simple with hard, fast and loud music.
The Brooklyn/Queens-based Crazy Pills was conceived in 2010 by guitarist Amanda and currently features Eddie (pow wow!) on bass and Jim (Clouder) on drums. The music was raw and energetic garage pop.
While teaching songwriting at a summer camp in 2011, vocalist/guitarist Sadie Dupuis began recording her own music on laptop. This music evolved into Speedy Ortiz, an indie rock band from Northampton, Massachusetts. As Dupuis sang softly, the band played grunge-like power rock.
The Beets’ stripped-bare indie rock accumulated a strong following and Uruguayan-born Juan Wauters is furthering his band’s boney sound as a solo artist. He played solo and also was accompanied by two female musicians who gave his jangly North American folk music a South American folk twist.
Viet Cong are an indie rock band formed in Calgary, Alberta, in 2012. The group consists of two ex-members of the rock band Women, vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace, as well as guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen. The quartet played hypnotic psychedelic music charged with noisy guitars.
Originally from Long Island, now based in Brooklyn, Nude Beach was formed in 2008. Vocalist/guitarist Chuck Betz, bassist Jim Shelton and drummer Ryan Naideau played scrappy power pop.
Jessi Zazu and Nikki Kvarnes met in 2006 at the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They formed Those Darlins and began by covering Carter Family songs, using traditional Southern instrumentation, including washboard and clogging, as well as less traditional instruments like the baritone ukulele. Those Darlins are now a rock and roll band from Nashville, Tennessee. The quartet played garage band rock with more than a hint of Brill Building girl group sound, especially when the band covered The Crystals’ 1963 hit “And Then He Kissed Me.”
Canadian-born Mac DeMarco is at heart a guitar-strumming folkie. His songs are cute. He turned his songs into trance rock by playing with electronic effects.
When The Julie Ruin, the original headliner, canceled, Dinosaur Jr. came to the rescue. Dinosaur Jr. was founded in 1984 by J. Mascis (guitar, vocals, primary songwriter), Lou Barlow (bass, vocals), and Murph (drums) in Amherst, Massachusetts. The band was one of the formative influences on 1990s American alternative rock. Showing a debt to both classic rock and punk rock, Dinosaur Jr. played a fast and wild set of three-chord lead guitar-infused turbo-charged rock. Mascis’s drawling, whiney vocals could only be heard if you were standing near the mixing board, however; everywhere else, the instruments drowned out the vocals.