From baby boomers to teenagers, Forecastle Music Festival had something in store for every one of its 80,000 attendees. Spanning the entire vicinity of Louisville’s Waterfront Park, this eclectic festival boasted both a rich lineup up, and an equally gratifying locale. For twelve years in a row Forecastle has romanced disciples of americana, folk, electronic, hip-hop, and good ol’ fashioned rock n, roll, and this year it lived up to its reputation.
Day 1: Friday, July 18
A little rain never kilt nobody”, shouted Outkast’s Big Boi as he and Andre 3000 pounced across stage late Friday evening. True, it was drizzling on the mob that hugged the stage as Outkast cranked out hit after hit, but it hardly caused a flinch. For over 20 years this hip-hop dynasty has been tearing up popular culture, and for an hour and a half on Friday night they incited the swampiest dance party Kentucky has possibly ever known.
Opening with “Bombs Over Baghdad”, Outkast set the pace for an immeasurably funky and danceable night. They gave the crowd their classics like “Ms. Jackson”, “Hey Ya”, and “So Fresh, So Clean”, but they also shouted out to their long-term fan-base. Deep cuts like “Crumblin’ Erb” and “Hootie Hoo” were shouted across a crowd of young ears who may not have heard them before, but were instantly hooked. By the end of their set, Andre and Big Boi had transformed the Forecastle crowd into a bunch of southernplayalisticadillacfunkymusic fanatics.
Day 2: Saturday, July 19
As the overcast clouds loomed above the city, many attendees worried that it would start raining any second. However, as the day progressed, the clouds became less of something to fear, and more of something to celebrate. The clouds kept the temperature in the 70’s, a wonderful hiccup in Louisville’s weather which typically hovers around the 90-100 range in mid-July. With a comfortable breeze blowing, Hurray for the Riff Raff came on to kick off Saturday’s line-up. Their folky, acoustic sound coupled with the lead singers raspy vocals were a gentle transition into what would become a boisterous day.
New Orleans based, The Soul Rebels, unleased their blaring brass later in the afternoon. This percussion and brass fueled outfit livened up the afternoon with original tunes, and a fantastic Jay-Z rendition. Their crowd response was pretty exciting due to the fact that they had a large following, and also that they got the whole group up and dancing.
Later in the afternoon, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks took up a temporary residency beneath the I-64 overpass. The mastermind of this operation is Animal Collective’s Dave “Avey Tare” Portner, while the other two bandmates hail from Dirty Projectors and Ponytail. Trippy visualizers accented the group’s layered and sometimes feverish instrumentation. Dave’s prowess on the guitar was displayed in all its experimental glory, as he hammered out effects between songs and allowed them to accumulate into the next piece. Their single “Little Fang” got the whole crowd bopping around to their jazzy, distortedness.
Later in the evening, the horde of festie-goers stampeded over to the center stage to catch Band of Horses. Clearly a Forecastle favorite that weekend, Band of Horses drew a massive crowd, which would only multiply by the time wonder-rocker Jack White would arrive. BOH slid into “St. Augustine” as their fans twirled and swayed to the solo stylings of lead singer Brian Bridwell. Following the opening tune, the rest of the band came out, and they happily cruised through several fan favorites. “Is There a Ghost” and “No One’s Gonna Love You” had the whole swarm of sweaty fans singing along at the top of their lungs. The energy was tangible, and every fan had a back story for each BOH song. As their set wound down, people scuttled closer to snag a close spot for Jack White.
Bathed in light blue, Jack White and his company of musicians, including an electric violin, strolled onto deck. His crowd work was impeccable as he played a plethora of solo, White Stripes, and Raconteur material. His latest single, “Lazaretto” rang out brimming with his signature dirty blues sound. The crowd raged along with him and his crew as though they were under some type of rock induced spell. Everyone writhed as “Ball and Biscuit” played. They wailed along with him as he crooned “We’re Going to Be Friends”. In typical Jack White fashion his encore set was almost as long as his scheduled repertoire. Fans grooved to the jazzy “Steady as She Goes”, and when “Seven Nation Army” was unleashed a sing-along commenced. By the end, the appeared fully satisfied by his damn near “Best of” set list.
Day 3: Sunday, July 20
The venue was slow to fill up on Sunday afternoon, because most people were probably still recovering from their Jack attack the previous evening. Sunday’s lineup was a little softer than the first two days, so many people were found recovering on blankets around Waterfront Park. Blue Sky, Black Death played some dubsteppy beats under the bridge as people trickled past the stage. They played a notable remix of Frank Ocean’s “Pyramid”, and the fans finally started to get their groove on a little bit.
Towards the evening legendary singer/songwriter Sun Kil Moon took stage, and bellowed his intimate lyrics across the waterfront. Mark Kozelek, a veteran of some 20 odd years in the industry, projected his detailed lyrics to listeners as they heard stories of life, death, and sex.
As the sun began to set, Ray LaMontagne performed some of his newest and oldest hits. His typically acoustic act took a bluesy tone that evening, as his newer record was producer by the one and only Dan Auerbach. As the clock wound down to Beck’s slot, everyone migrated over towards center stage to catch the last headliner of the weekend.
Beck’s performance left absolutely nothing to be desired. Since he hardly ever tours, let alone in the Midwest, anticipations were enormous. He started the last set of the festival with “Devil’s Haircut”, and the night only grew more insane. He danced and swerved across stage in his black and white bow tied suit like the magnificent entertainer that he is. The familiar riff for “Bille Jean” broke out across the stage and he whipped out a rendition that would’ve made MJ jealous. He wheezed on the harmonica, and strummed his guitar with his backup crew holding steady to every song he played. When the wobbly guitar riff to “Loser” came on the crowd lost it. The image of a pixelated pyramid on the backdrop blinked on and off as the entire crowd screamed along to this break through hit. Beck’s showmanship, song selection, and crowd interactions have to place him at the top of Forecastle Festival’s best performances.
As the Forecastle fans filed out of the Louisville, a sad but euphoric feeling emanated along I-65 back to Indy. People were bummed it was over, but could hardly believe all the talented acts they had just witnessed. Whether it was a person’s first dip into the festival circuit, or they were a seasoned vet, it can be certain that each person left with fond memories of a weekend well spent on the Ohio River. Maybe someone discovered an awesome new act, or maybe they had the chance to see an old favorite. Whatever the circumstance, Forecastle Music Festival brought together lovers of music both old and new to share in its wonder.