We’re midway through the summer, which means we’re midway through music festival season.
While you may have missed larger festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo or Governor’s Ball, other big festivals like Panorama, Lollapalooza and Made in America are still coming up. One event that flew under the radar was Forecastle Festival, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in Louisville, Kentucky. In mid-July, the nautically-themed fest brought together music, art and bourbon all along the Ohio River waterfront.
The three-day festival featured an eclectic lineup, from indie rock to country to hip-hop. This year’s headliners were Odesza, LCD Soundsystem and Weezer. Other acts included Sturgill Simpson, Cage the Elephant, Waka Flocka Flame, Judah & the Lion, Phantogram and more. The artists are spread across four different stages, as well as the Party Cove, where lesser-known disc jockeys played on a grounded boat.
But Forecastle offers more than just music. An entire section of the festival was dedicated to local art and artistic fixtures were installed across the festival grounds. There was even a giant puppet of Hunter S. Thompson that walked around all day. Food trucks were woven throughout the festival as well, offering delicious Southern grub like alligator bites and fried chicken bites.
The Bourbon Lodge offered exclusive bourbon tastings as well as classes on the popular Kentucky beverage. But if that’s not your thing, the adjacent Sober Tent offers support for those who choose to have a great festival experience without alcohol.
Friday opened up with a bunch of great acts. The first I saw was Giraffage, an electronic dance artist that got the audience dancing in the Kentucky summer heat. Next up was Waka Flocka Flame. For a relatively early set, Waka Flocka had an impressive show-out. His braids bounced as he rapped crowd favorites like “Hard in da Paint” and “Grove St. Party.” Smooth indie rock from the likes of Twin Limb and Chicano Batman added a nice ambiance to the festival. But this mellow mood was shattered with an explosive set by rap duo Run the Jewels.
The hip-hop veterans tore down the aptly named Boom Stage. With three albums under their joint belt, the Jewels had the crowd jumping beneath inflatable fists and gun hands with songs like “Talk to Me” and “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry.” One of the best things about Run the Jewels is that they have been able to gain popularity without a well-known single. Therefore, every song they performed was as energetic and well-known as the next. Headliner Odesza ended the night with groovy electronic tracks to bring back the chill vibe of the festival.
Saturday acts continued the fun. Cashmere Cat, a producer who has worked with the likes of Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Kanye West, brought his eclectic sound to the Ocean Stage. He remixed many of his own songs with a wheel that he swiped at, reminiscent of an actual cat playing with a toy. But by far the best performance of the festival was by Vince Staples. The Long Beach rapper had recently released his newest album “Big Fish Theory,” which took a much more dancey-direction. Staples opted out for any on-stage theatrics, even moving the DJ stand off the stage. Behind a bright orange screen, Staples stood out in all black. He brought a serious yet dynamic energy to the stage. The crowd moshed to the majority of his songs, especially to popular tracks like “Senorita,” “Norf Norf” and “Yeah Right.” The headliner of the night was LCD Soundsystem, who has been on a massive festival run after a five-year hiatus. The band brought popular songs like “All my Friends” and “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” to life during their set.
While not as huge as some of the other music festivals, Forecastle does pull in tens of thousands of attendants with their stellar lineup year after year. Be on the lookout for next years lineup, and maybe you’ll be able to make your way down to the jewel of the South next mid-July.