It’s pretty sweet when the easiest mode of transport to a seaside day of bands is by boat. Thanks to the East River Ferry, I arrived at The Village Voice‘s 4Knots Music Festival in breezy style just as Hospitality was taking the main stage.
After experiencing a few of the Brooklyn trio’s cooing, catchy songs about life in the city and falling in love from up close, I walked up the gangplank to the Peking ship to toast a friend’s birthday with champagne, courtesy of one of the festival sponsors, Barefoot Wine.
While the whoozy jams of Delicate Steve played on board the Skipper Stage, the ominous, thick ball of charcoal smoke that suddenly took over the tip of Pier 17 stole our full attention. Fire was soon stretching its way across the lower dock of the South Street Seaport Mall, sending frantic people running down stairs from the building’s upper floor to evacuate as the band played on.
Much of the main festival crowd wasn’t yet aware of the chaos happening behind the stage. One brave gent, possibly from the Pacific Grill restaurant closest to the origin of the fire, was in the midst of the smoking pier within moments, trying to help with a few buckets of water.
Then the Shark speedboat had its moments of glory, spraying its spindly onboard hose into the flames, until the Fire boats and a full force of NYFD came through with the big guns and sprayed down every last speck of the blaze. A vending machine, possibly the culprit, was overturned by the jet of their hoses and the crowd did cheer. The cause of the fire was said to be “faulty electrical wiring.”
The show must go on, and so it did, seeing that there were no injuries or major damage despite fact that a three-alarm fire had just taken place. The 15 to 20 minute festival break was barely even a blip in the day. Crocodiles took the stage with a psychedelic fury that provided a perfect release from all the dramatic tension of the nicely-averted disaster. Singer/guitarist Brandon Welchez was a non-stop, sinewy ball of energy, especially during the band’s rousing, fuzzed-out hits like the jaunty Echo and the Bunnymen-ish “Endless Flowers” or “My Surfing Lucifer.” It was a worthy set that even induced Voice photographer C.S. Muncy to shoot on his GoPro while crowd surfing.
The Drums played through new hits from their latest, “Portamento”. Pierce donned a wink-wink New York City tourist tee, perhaps just purchased from a street vendor at the seaport. He added how happy he was to be playing this show for, and spending time with The Village Voice, “such a NYC institution.” Then he blushed as he stopped himself from going on a bit of a long-winded tale about a song, saying, “I never do this storytelling thing,” which led into “Mountain” and the single “Days.” “Let’s Go Surfing” was the obvious dream of a beachy finale.