Aug 12, 2014

Forecastle Music Festival | Review and Photos

I hate big music festivals, but I loved Forecastle

Review by Josh Weiker

Photos by Brock Caldwell

Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Firefly, Burning Man – not only does the list of music festivals go on and on, it also continues to grow each year. It has become shamefully obvious that promoters, bands, and die-hard music fans have been trying to reinvent the Woodstock wheel for 45 years now, and who can blame them? And while some modern festivals have excelled at certain aspects (appealing to massive crowds of people or focusing on elevating the drug culture) its becoming very obvious that no matter how hard we try, our music festivals just aren’t going to be the same.

Oddly enough, my view came to change in the middle of winter, right after the turn to 2014 – when the news broke that Outkast would be embarking on a celebratory 20-year anniversary tour. Set to begin in April, the dope-rhyme slinging duo had charted a course of shows across more than 40 festival, so I began looking for the nearest festival that met my fickle preferences.

Narrowing the field was surprisingly easy. For starters I live in the Midwest, the enthusiastic statement of “camping is exciting!” has grown into “I think I’m gonna head back to the hotel for a nap” and the idea of taking an inter-dimensional spiritual quest amidst an array of music festival chaos just isn’t as appealing as it once was. Lame, I know.

With the field narrowed to a handful of potential festivals (and my sights set on Chicago), an unknown contender burst into the room and declared itself the winner. Outkast, Jack White, and Beck; not a bad start – the lineup went on to include names like The Replacements, Spoon, Dwight Yoakam, Band of Horses, Gary Clark Jr., and Spanish Gold. When I saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on the bill, I knew that I was going down to Louisville’s Waterfront Park for Forecastle.

Fast forward a few months, and we’re walking through the festival gates. Not even two steps into the park and the explosive electronic metronomic sounds of Mimosa are reverberating the southeast grounds of the Ocean Stage. The sound waves direct you further into the festival grounds – past a grounded three-tier boat that is being prepped for what is looking to be a gnarly transformation, and right into the Bourbon Lodge. Let’s just say there was a lot of bourbon… even at the local restaurants, bourbon was the most common ingredient, which serve their local treasure until 4am!

Back to Forecastle and the Bourbon Lodge, where the members of Spoon (most of them at least) showed up to dish out a few cocktails as special guest bartenders. Not long after that, Gary Clark Jr. hit the Mast Stage and despite a slight and steady mist-like sprinkling rain, his set was fantastic. Without as much as a flinch, he traveled across blues, soul, rock and r&b.

Outkast was the Friday night closer, and oh my… It was – wow – . I YOLO-ed, twice. Half way through the set, Big Boi broke into a short solo set, then André had his solo set, then they came back together to close it out – just look at this setlist:

B.O.B., Gasoline Dreams, ATLiens, Skew It on the Bar-B, Rosa Parks, Da Art of Storytellin’, Part 1, Aquemini, SpottieOttieDopaliscious, Ms. Jackson, Kryptonite (I’m on It), GhettoMusick, The Way You Move, Vibrate, She Lives in My Lap, Prototype, Hey Ya!, Hootie Hoo, Crumblin’ Erb, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Player’s Ball, Elevators (Me & You), Roses, So Fresh, So Clean, Int’l Player’s Anthem, The Whole World

… not a bad start

Jack White closed out the main stage on Saturday night. It wasn’t bad … the lights were neat … I mean, I guess its my fault for thinking Jack White = White Stripes, or even the Raconteurs. I now know that “Jack White” means “Jack White’s Rockin’ Ol’ Country Jam Time Band Time.” Again, not bad; just not what I was expecting?

Sunday was particularly laid back (I think the bourbon was finally getting to everyone) and featured plenty of bands, but the only thing anyone was talking about was Beck. Now, either Beck got wind of everyone’s building excitement, or perhaps he caught the Outkast show and was inspired by their ‘Greatest Hits’ setlist; whatever it was, it was bonkers. They were scheduled to play from 9:45 pm until 11 pm, and they kept going until about midnight.

Even with such a raucous lineup, the whole weekend had a very chill vibe. The Forecastle festival had a great layout, with plenty of food and drink vendors, a substantial area for art, clothing and jewelry merchants, and only like 10% hippies, which is like none for a festival. With room to grow, alternative local entertainment for after hours shenanigans, and plenty of nearby hotels, this festival is packed with potential to become the next massive music festival … awww, dammit.

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