The quaint city of Louisville began to rumble July 15. For the 14th year in a row, Forecastle Festival had returned.
What once started as a small block party in 2002 has blossomed into one of the fastest growing music festivals in the country, boasting over 65,000 festival-goers this year. The nautically-themed festival draws from an eclectic pool of musicians. While it mostly features indie rock acts, artists from a variety of other genres including country musicians, electronic dance music DJs and rappers all shared the same stage. The Avett Brothers, Alabama Shakes and Ryan Adams headlined the three-day festival.
Forecastle hasn’t cultivated the same cult following as Coachella or Bonnaroo, but it does have its own vibrant character. Named after the upper-deck of a sailing ship, Forecastle is situated on the Waterfront Lawn overlooking the Ohio River. The sprawling lawn was decked out with murals, hammocks and vendors of all sorts. Once the sun set, an adjacent bridge lit up with dancing lights, creating a gorgeous backdrop for the festival.
The festival ran into a few road bumps on Friday. At about midday, the grounds had to be evacuated under threat of a passing thunderstorm. But within an hour and a half the schedule was adjusted and the shows went on. Baauer, of “Harlem Shake” fame, had an explosive set, while Glass Animals cooled it down with a vibrant set in the hazy sunset. The Avett Brothers, a mainstay for Forecastle, finished the night.
Saturday went off much smoother. Early festival goers were treated to a lively opening performance by Jazz Cartier, a Toronto rapper who walked across the top of the crowd near the end of the set. Fans endured the steamy Kentucky heat at the Mast Stage, where bands like Shakey Graves and Local Natives kept everyone grooving. Under the shade of an overpass, artists Danny Brown, Hudson Mohawke and others had their crowds dancing the entire day. Once the sun had set, Alabama Shakes came out with a rousing performance, fantastically capping an amazing day of performances.
Sunday was the final day of festivities, yet Waterfront Park was as lively as the last two days. While it felt as if there were fewer attendees, and the heat index was well into the 90s, people were still moving and grooving to AlunaGeorge, Ghostland Observatory, Gary Clark Jr. and others. To escape the heat, festival goers relaxed in Enos and cool off in the Ohio River-fed fountains. Death Cab for Cutie and Ryan Adams closed the night off, but to the left my friend Alex and I went to the Party Cove, a small grove where local DJs played atop a decorated boat. The small rave juxtaposed the chiller music on the Mast Stage, a perfect representation of the odd, fantastic aesthetic of Forecastle Festival.