Picture this, a woman eight months pregnant, crowd surfing while screaming “I want my child to hear good music from the get go!” Seems like appropriate response to a legend taking the stage. We are going to do our dandy best to describe this in words, so you too can understand why no one stopped her. This is a powerful response to a band who recorded their first album in the woods of Massachusetts for $500
4Knots Festival Show Review by Baltimore-bred and Brooklyn-based Author David Leigh Abts and New York-based writer Kacey Chapin.
When you first march down to South Street Seaport for the 4Knots Festival, you are not sure what to expect. It’s a cadre of different characters. NYU students bravely brandishing fake ID’s, music festival stoners wearing sweat-stained baby-doll dresses with paperclips threaded through d.i.y. piercings, tourists who asked the hotel concierge for “something fun to do,” and pissed-off Wall Street types who’ve spent their Saturday at work – ample bellies stuffed into dark suits, just trying to grab some fresh air. The vibe is palpably flush with sex and coconut water.
The venue, an open-air pier on the Hudson River, is perfect for eliciting the nostalgia necessary to lose yourself in the raw riffs and heavy jams that define Dinosaur Jr’s sound. Frontman J. Mascis’ melodic griping makes for a head rush of angsty memories straight from your formative years when the sweat of strangers and the occasional Doc Martin boot to the head were welcome evidence of being alive. Looking down over the crowd from my perch on the gunwales of a tall ship, I have to believe they concur. If you were to follow in the footsteps of the pregnant rocker chick and work your way to the front, braving the mosh pit directly in front of the stage, you’d be rubbing elbows with current pop culture fans sporting Au Revoir Simone shirts on one side, while on the other side stand show goers who are barely cognizant, at best. For example, one yo-yo is wearing a t-shirt that reads “Free O.J.” But nobody blinks an eye, because at the Round Table of Dinosaur Jr, we are all equals. It’s a safe place.
From the moment that Dinosaur Jr. walks on stage, the crowd suspects they’re in for a special set. The first song Feel the Pain affirms this notion. Couples ranging from 15 to 50 all start tonguing each other and then mouthing the words, “Baby, this is our song!”
I absorb the colors, smells and sounds as the show progresses, humming along to The Wagon when out of the blue, right in front of me a runaway paper airplane makes an unexpected crash landing into the ear of a scary-looking Don Johnson type, complete with a Black Flag tattoo roughly the size of a Cadillac on his neck. I‘m thinking, “here we go” while fully expecting this guy to break out some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and find the Howard Hughes (or John Denver) responsible for this kamikaze mission. But instead, he shakes it off and gives his lady a look that says, “Not even an unmanned drone to the head is going to interfere with my first base slug going into your mouth during OUR song!”
As the band continues to play, the light begins to get hazy. Slowly, the magic hour settles over the pier, sending a cool breeze through our sweaty, tousled hair. Cure fans, I hope you are sitting down for this next bit, because I’m about to relay the part about Dinosaur Jr’s penultimate cover of Just Like Heaven. Let me tell you, Hells Bells, this may be one of the most ethereal covers you could hope to hear live. The warm air sucked up the tunes and dispersed them over the crowd, like a soothing blanket of bone crushing notes. Even the Staten Island Ferry pauses just beyond the pier so the idle-minded passengers can gather an earful of the wafting melodies. To be sure, it was a welcome intermission in the lives of those willing and able to dive headfirst into the deep end of some legitimate grunge rock. Pardon me while I go dig my slap bracelet and flannel shirt out of storage. After this show, I’m ready once again to sport these gems with pride… well, at least until Monday morning.
Check out Dinosaur Jr music and tour information here.
This review is brought to you by the Team Mother’s Day at the Orphanage. Visit www.mothersdaystories.com.
Article by David Leigh Abts and Kacey Chapman
Photos by Elizabeth A. Abts Photography.
Read more show reviews and music-related stories here.