July 13, 2014
Itching to Mosh
3 Hours at the 4 Knots Music Festival
After crossing the street where you start seeing the big ships, a girl was suddenly waving an orange flag in my face. “Over there please!” she motioned erratically. “Hey, you need to walk over there!” she yelled as I smiled and kept moving past her. “Thanks a lot for being helpful,” she blurted out but by then I was already too far to turn back or even to give her a “Yr welcome,” for that matter. I was entering the heart the 4 Knots Music Festival and I would be damned if I was going in the same way as everybody else. No quarter asked and none given. Besides, it was free show, what’d I have to lose?
We walked through endless hordes of people, being mindful not to bump into anyone, lest they spill some of their $8 Bud Light or drop their free Kind Bar. Everyone was wearing the usual crowded outdoor concert facial expression while shuffling aimlessly around the merch tents and simutaniously posting to Facebook and Twitter. The enterance was a mad clusterfuck of free promotional beverage cozies and bad skin and by the time I observed someone’s large Mediterranean father in a skin tight, grass green Lacoste polo, jamming furiously on his air guitar I was being swallowed up whole by bitterness. “I hate it here,” I said to my girlfriend Val, “I’ve made a mistake.” I felt guilty for dragging her to such an awful scene. The wind was whipping up debris and I couldn’t shake the image of that goddamn sweaty Greek, housing that last giant bite of a dripping savory crepe and eye fucking the scantily dressed Cambodian teen with an eating disorder.
It was then that Mac Demarco came on stage. We tried making it as close to the stage as possible but… no, that’s a lie. We tried to make it as close as we could to the view of the stage, a partial one at least… no dice. We were trapped. I stared at the snapback of some brunette and heard Mac cracking wise somewhere up on a stage that sounded as if it could be anywhere between Fort Greene and Rockaway Beach. The people in our immediate vicinity were ripe with inattention to anything other than their personal conversations but when the band started into “Viceroy” the mood audibly shifted. The guys in back of us stopped talking shit about college sports. The toadie-looking freak right next to me fired up an obscene spliff and began offering it to the complete strangers to his left. I watched as a kid, no older than 14, took what was probably his first hit of what was most definetly narcotic grade ganja while being spurred on by this generous head who, for some reason, kept encouraging him with approvals like, “That’s what I’m saying. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” over and over again. “Finally,” I thought, “things are getting weird.” Demarco went into the awesome song “Brother,” off his latest record Salad Days and by the chorus I was loudly singing along, “Take it slowwwwwly brother, let it goooooo brother.” I gave it my best croon which caused the girls in front of us to turn around, visibly uncomfortable. It’s hilarious to me what some people get uptight about. Anyways, Mac had us dancing to the slow burn funk of “Chamber of Reflections,” and made us laugh when the high notes of “Still Together” threw him into a coughing spell. This Demarco punk is the fucking truth, that’s fer sure, but his act doesn’t really fly from a distance. His is a circus to catch up close. Listen to his records now!
Mac’s last note hadn’t fully degraded yet as we were on the move again. Throngs of vacaters squeezed by us as we joined some other like-minded folks and formed a line that slithered stageward like a snake with b.o. We came to a stop, realizing that there was nowhere else to go. By that point the crowd was so compact and territorial that it would have been foolish and arrogant to attempt any more ground. We stood and waited. I saw J Mascis lumber out from behind his three Marshall stack amps and begrudgingly put his guitar strap over his left shoulder while Lou Barlow appeared with his ever increasing bouquet of un-tamed curly hair. They poked around for a bit before drummer Murph went into the familiar drum leadoff of “In A Jar.” As if on cue with his first snare hit the audience went absolutely batshit. I was suddenly lifted clear off my feet and carried three feet to my right before someone’s hand found the side of my face. Disoriented but laughing I turned to check on the Vals who was attempting to steady herself against the changing tide of pushing people and wearing a foul expression. We made eye contact and I read “What the Fuck!?” in her’s. I pushed my way over and grabbed her and just as I did we all were forced backwards with a quickness. Before I knew it, a 20’x20′ circle pit opened up in front of us as if Moses himself had recently discovered post-hardcore and was in the crowd, itching to mosh. For a couple seconds things seemed really quiet. All movements slowed to a crawl. I looked into the empty void and the world was peaceful and serene for that moment. No one wanted to be the first to bust the perimeter when suddenly, an older guy with a frizzy gray ponytail spilled out of the crowd into the empty pool and started skanking like a Circle Jerks t-shirt. It was beautiful. Of course, as soon as he broke the chain it was pandomonioum. Wanton acts of teenage aggression mixed with salt and pepper hardened scenesters made for one wild soup.
It really was a picture. Dinosaur Jr, a band formed in 1985, fucking up the hearing of kids who weren’t even born yet along with the drums of their old fans just the same. “Feel The Pain” brought out the crowdsurfers and I watched as feet and arms would silhouette the Brooklyn skyline for a split second before dissappearing back into the churning all-ages crowd. When they pulled out the old Deep Wound (the hardcore band that J and Lou were in prior to starting Dinosaur) song “Training Ground,” it worked the maniacs into such a frenzy that I noticed the people standing on a nearby docked yacht looking on, jaws on the floor as some poor bastard was heaved over the barricade, head first, after trying his luck surfing on some hands. The band stuck mainly to songs from the first three records which was awesome because those are the best ones and by the time they got to “Freak Scene” we were covered in sweat (some ours, mostly other peoples’), breathing heavily and signifigantly weakened. I screamed along with the song, “Cuz when I need a friend it’s still you!” and got kicked in the back. I didn’t bother to turn around or move to safer ground; instead I thought back to that dad and his air guitar, wondering what he was making of this craziness. “Fuck him,” I figured, “He wouldn’t understand.”
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