The Forecastle Festival is located on the Ohio River, in Louisville, Kentucky. Being so close to the river provides an aesthetic that many festivals cannot match. There is a unique sort of charm in having a party by the river. Throughout the day, festivalgoers were sitting by the canal, cooling themselves off and resting their feet in the flowing water. Louisville Waterfront Park was the perfect setting for Saturday night’s festivities – after a brief interruption from the forces of nature.
Upon arriving at the festival, and trying to acclimate myself to unfamiliar surroundings, I was immediately informed by those running the festival that severe weather was in the area. For the safety of the crowd, all patrons were asked to leave the venue and take shelter in their cars. I delayed this process for as long as possible and managed to remain in the venue until everyone was allowed back in.
The weather caused a delay in the set times for the rest of the evening, but the festival organizers did a tremendous job of alleviating any confusion by displaying the adjusted set times on the screens that adorned each stage. The festival even handed out free tickets to people who bought one passes.
Once fans returned to the venue, TOKiMONSTA took the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, which was located under an overpass, giving the stage a grungy feel. TOKiMONSTA is a female electronic music producer from California. It was evident that festivalgoers were ready for a party. The crowd surged forward as she began playing poppy loops and dancing on stage in front of a checkerboard of LED screens displaying visuals behind her. Overall, the performance was akin to your average EDM DJ, danceable but not overly impressive. The performance peaked when she dropped, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by Kendrick Lamar. Although not my cup of tea, the crowd was quite enthused and it was amusing to watch her sing along to the song.
After losing interest in TOKiMONSTA, I decided to head over to the Mast Stage, Forecastle’s main stage to watch Jim James. Although I have seen My Morning Jacket numerous times, I had yet to see the lead singer perform his solo work. I was not disappointed. Jim James, donning his signature long hair and beard, took the stage looking quite dapper in an open suit jacket and button up shirt. The band played softly as he began, “State of the Art.” The haunting vocals showcased the beauty that is Jim James voice and the crowd was instantly entranced. As the song climaxed, James was twirling around the stage as spikes of light provided visual stimulation behind him.
The second song of the set featured James soloing on a stationary guitar at center stage. While he is best known for his vocal capabilities, he can also play a mean guitar. Next, James sang, “Know til Now,” while dancing around the stage clutching a golden bear. This must have worn him out because he returned for the next song wearing a towel on his head and playing saxophone. The rest of the set felt like a classic rock n’ roll show, drum solos and all. You could sense the hometown love throughout the duration of the set. It became clear that no one loves Jim James as much as Louisville does.
As things were winding down, I decided to head to the Boom Stage to see The Flaming Lips. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this year when they came through Indianapolis, and I left quite impressed. The show at Forecastle was nearly identical to the one I had previously seen. Nonetheless, the Flaming Lips’ production quality never ceases to amaze me.
Wayne Coyne seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show, trying to get the crowd to liven up. “During a Flaming Lips show, you are allowed to do what you want to do,” he said. He once again made jokes about smoking pot, shining the light gun into the crowd and encouraging people to smoke. He was infatuated with the fact that there was a highway above the venue and kept imagining a car crashing off of it into the crowd.
One interesting twist that I had not previously seen was the bands cover of, “Gates of Steel,” by DEVO, which began with an extensive drum introduction. Wayne Coyne stood on his pedestal singing lyrics as the entire stage was barraged by lasers.
Finally, it was time to head back to the Mast Stage to see The Black Keys. “Howlin for you,” the band’s first song of the evening started as I was making my way through the crowd. Although the band is comprised of only two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, they brought along some touring musicians to add to their sound, giving the band a bass and keyboard when necessary. Although I enjoy most of the Black Keys music, their live performance fell flat. They sounded restrained, playing at a lower volume than the rest of the bands that evening. I overheard people in the crowd yelling for them to, “Turn up the volume,” and I couldn’t help but agree. After a few songs, including an incredible version of, “Gold on the Ceiling,” which sounded better than the studio version, the band said they were going to play some songs as a duo.
The band seemed more comfortable playing as a duo, launching into, “Thickfreakness,” off of the album of the same name, which happens to be my favorite of their albums. After a brief intermission, the band returned for an encore, playing, “I Got Mine,” which featured Auerbach shredding the guitar. Weary from a day of incredible music, I exited the venue as their last song faded off into the distance.
Words by Kenneth Spangler (above) and Chris Lucas (below for SCI late night)
Saturday Late Night: The String Cheese Incident
The best part of the weekend was dancing in the front row at The String Cheese Incident‘s late night set at the Louisville Palace. These boys are definitely my favorite band out there, and there aren’t many opportunities to see them around here, as they don’t make it to the midwest very often. Instead, they perform “Incidents” across the country, but mostly in the western United States.
As we walked into the Palace, I was amazed by how beautiful it was, and just by the fact that I was even there at the show. Nothing all weekend compared to the energy and professionalism that was brought to this show, and it will definitely be something to remember. The crowd, the band, the vibe, and the venue all summed together equated to the best show of the weekend.
To see more photographs from The Forecastle Festival 2013, click here