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4Knots returns to South Street Seaport: Acts to see at the free waterfront music festival

After experimenting with a new location and charging for tickets, the 4Knots Music Festival is returning to South Street Seaport this year and is once again free.

The sixth annual waterfront festival will be held July 9 at South Street Seaport from 1 to 8 p.m.

4Knots typically draws about 10,000 people and is focused on up-and-coming acts rather than huge names. Here’s a look at some of this year’s performers.

Guided by Voices

Over the course of more than 30 years,
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jason Kempin

Over the course of more than 30 years, dozens of albums and numerous member changes, the core idea of Guided by Voices has barely changed - hook-filled songs that seem simple, but are deceptively complex, incorporating elements ranging from '60s pop to '90s indie (which the band had a significant hand in shaping). Nearing 60, lead singer Robert Pollard isn't quite the crazed ringleader he once was, but he's still a compelling presence onstage.

The Strumbellas

Toronto's Strumbellas have described their music as
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jason Davis

Toronto's Strumbellas have described their music as "folk popgrass." It's an apt term, as the band conjures up the kind of good-time sing-along choruses that made Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers famous.

Kirk Knight

A Brooklyn native and member of Joey Bada$$'s
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kirk Knight

A Brooklyn native and member of Joey Bada$$'s Pro Era collective, Knight has worked as a producer with rappers including Mick Jenkins and Flatbush Zombies. His debut album, "Late Knight Special," takes listeners through the 20-year-old's life in Flatbush, including R&B-flavored love songs and raps that can be spiritual or streetwise.

Car Seat Headrest

After self-releasing 11 albums of lo-fi indie pop
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Jewel Samad

After self-releasing 11 albums of lo-fi indie pop in the vein of 4Knots headliner Guided by Voices and Jonathan Richman, Will Toledo, who records as Car Seat Headrest, signed with Matador Records last year. His latest album, "Teens of Denial," is the first he recorded in a proper studio with a full band and a producer. Not surprisingly, it has more volume and clarity. It also contains some of Toledo's strongest songs, full of funny, heartfelt and whip-smart lyrics about growing up and finding your place in the world.

Protomartyr

A powerful post-punk band from Detroit, Protomartyr's pounding
Photo Credit: Zak Bratto

A powerful post-punk band from Detroit, Protomartyr's pounding drums and churning guitars serve as the backdrop for Joe Casey's ranted-sung vocals about the big issues - life, death, religion and family. Along with the aforementioned Will Toldeo, Casey is one of the best lyricists in indie rock today.

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