Does the Siren Festival’s facelift really hurt anybody?

Yes. Yes it does. But I say that with a hint of over-dramatics. The Siren Music Festival has gathered thousands of music fans to Coney Island every year for the last ten years, boasting free admission to see great veteran acts (New York Dolls, Broken Social Scene, Built To Spill, Ted Leo, etc.) and young acts just before they became powerhouse hit-makers (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, M.I.A., The Shins, etc.). That’s ignoring just about everybody in between who played some of the most amazing sets Coney Island has ever seen (Spank Rock, Monotonix, Future of the Left and Harlem: I’m looking at you guys).

But after ten years, the Siren Festival is getting a major facelift. The festival is now called 4Knots and will take place at the South Street Seaport. Still run by the Village Voice, there shouldn’t be much change to the lineup or caliber of music at the festival, but the differences aren’t purely cosmetic.

I’m not one to look at this thing in any sort of unbiased manner. The Siren Festival introduced my 15-year-old self to the world of indie music (If you look back through pictures on Siren’s website you can see my angsty face and awkward haircut). Over the years I took old friends, new friends and two girlfriends. I once scooched by Frank Black (“ermm excuse me, I just have to get riiiiight past you”) and accidentally got drunk the year I finally got access to the VIP lounge.

Holding the festival at Coney Island created a unique atmosphere. The Siren Festival wasn’t like any of the other big summer festivals. It was cozy and odd. This wasn’t a farm in the middle of the country, it wasn’t a desert oasis or in a canyon. It was thousands of people crammed into a Coney Island parking lot. It was hot, gross and often a little uncomfortable, but that’s what made Siren so great. It was the music festival for the freaks and the geeks (seriously, they held it the day the final Harry Potter book came out and people were reading it between sets).

Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed about the whole thing. I’m sure the change will result in easier access, more fans and more revenue for the festival blah blah blah. I’m very happy for the Village Voice and in their shoes, I might even make the same move. My angsty 15-year-old self, however, blowing out his ear drums listening to the Kills, might just scowl a little more.

[NOTE: We’ve been asked to clarify that the 4Knots Festival is NOT the Siren Festival and is run by different people, although still sponsored by the Village Voice.]

1 comment to Does the Siren Festival’s facelift really hurt anybody?

  • CookyMonzta

    Does the Siren’s “facelift” hurt anybody?  I think it does; namely, BROOKLYN!  Moving Siren out of Coney Island, and out of Brooklyn, is like cutting a big piece of Brooklyn out of Brooklyn.  As far as I know, it was (and may yet again be) the largest concert in Brooklyn, routinely attracting 100,000 every year, to TWO stages.  It attracted 150,000 in 2003 and 2004.  How many people did this year’s 4Knots Festival draw?

    To declare the Siren Festival dead is quite probably premature.  If the Voice will not sponsor any attempt to revive Siren, then all it needs is a coalition of new sponsors and investors to bring a new Siren back to Coney Island, either next year or the year after.  I wouldn’t drown the 3-headed girl that is the symbol of the Siren Festival just yet.

    There is room for both Siren and 4Knots to coexist.  The Voice can still hold 4Knots in mid-July, and a new sponsor (or co-sponsor) can hold Siren in August.  A festival, like Siren, that is THISCLOSE to becoming LEGENDARY (a Brooklyn legend, I might add), deserves to be revived.