Forecastle Music Festival has the feel of any other large music festival, except that it is set in an urban environment right on the waterfront of the Ohio River in Louisville, KY. Since it is situated underneath an interstate overpass, it seemed difficult to reach the venue the first time I entered, but the location was worth it. The overpass provided great coverage from the sun and occasional rain. It also provided amazing acoustics for the EDM Red Bull stage set underneath of it. The line-up featured Old Crow Medicine Show, The String Cheese Incident, The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, and many other artists. This festival drew in a very diverse crowd of fans, which made for an interesting weekend as it was completely different than most festivals that we cover here at indymojo.com.
As I arrived Friday afternoon at the media meeting, I learned that Forecastle is positioning itself as the next premiere world music event, partnering with AC Entertainment to make the event as big as it can be. J.K. McKnight and Ashley Capps (AC/Superfly) stressed their focus on bourbon as the 4th headliner of the festival, which was showcased by a bourbon tent where samples from many Kentucky distilleries were available for purchase. The grounds were beautiful. The stages were set within perfect walking distance from each other, although there was a bit of sound bleed from stage to stage. There were plenty of great vendors to provide any number of items from reasonably priced festival merchandise to amazing food. There was an entire section of the festival devoted to concert poster art.
The primary focus of Forecastle is music, art, and activism. They also seemed to focus on keeping a clean festival grounds as we saw very little trash on the grounds all weekend. The festival supports the local musicians and artists as well as brings amazing national acts together all for an affordable price. The highlight for me Friday night was the Old Crow Medicine Show followed by The String Cheese Incident. The lighting was perfect with the stage set right on the water, as the sun set on the Ohio River. These musical geniuses really opened my eyes to what Forecastle has become….a musical mecca for 3 brief days.
After the String Cheese Incident ended, we walked down the shore to the late night set to catch the DJ, Elliot Lipp. The show was set aboard the Belle of Louisville, which is the oldest operating steamboat in the United States. Getting on the Belle was hard due to ticket restrictions, and once on board it was probably the strictest show I have ever been too. There were a large number of uniformed police officers, as well as security staff everywhere.
The most interesting part of my late night adventure wasn’t the music, as good as it was. It was when I got to strike up a conversation with a gentleman by the name of John Grantz who helps put together Forecastle as well as being the owner of Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville. Eventually, our conversation then included J.K. McKnight, the individual who started Forecastle in 2002. He mentioned how he lost money the first 8 years of the festival’s existence, and has only recently begun seeing a good return on his life investment. When I asked J.K. how he did it, considering it was a flop the first couple of years, his response was simple. “Just keep doing it, over and over again. Because if it’s what you know you want to do, then you have to just do it.”
Words by Chris Lucas
To see more high resolution images from the festival, click here