Forecastle Fest: The festival by the river and in the home of some of the best bourbon, Louisville. The festival took place in the heat of July for three days in a city with some of the best food and drinks in the country accompanied by some of the best hospitality. Day one started with a bang. Artist 1200 is a Louisville local, recently being called a “hip-hop breakout artist,” and I would definitely agree with that statement. I was advised the day before the festival to catch this guy’s set and I’m so glad I did. However, within an hour a storm rolled in and the festival was completely evacuated for a little over an hour for safety precautions. If you were to look at the Facebook page you could see lots of angry posts regarding this, but don’t play into their remarks. Every artist that was scheduled to play did, the schedule was updated as soon as possible, and while some artists did have shortened sets, the important thing is that no act was cut. This was especially important when it came to Grouplove‘s set, a band I had wanted to see for years. They know how to perform like it’s the first day of tour every day. The energy exuded by these musicians is incredible.
Day 2 was even hotter, with the temperature reaching the low 100’s. For those partaking in the Bourbon Lodge building I truly have no idea how they managed. However, there was not a single reported passing out or any other extreme injury during the three-day festival, which is more than impressive. The second day included killer acts such as Shakey Graves, Danny Brown, Dr. Dog (above), Sylvan Esso, and of course the big hitter of the night, Alabama Shakes. I attempted to catch Shakey Graves at Shaky Knees this year, but due to technical difficulties it just didn’t happen. If you haven’t already, this is an artist to add to your every day playlist. Once a solo artist, he now has a touring band but still continues to play some songs all on his own. He is more than talented, he is adept in catching the hearts of the crowd. Danny Brown has been on my “must see” list for a while and I am glad to say he was well worth the wait. It always feels strange to see some artists preform at four in the afternoon, especially Danny Brown, whose music feels more suited for night time, but he absolutely owned his time slot. I had only heard of Sylvan Esso the day they were set to play and was advised to check them out since I had seen Big Gigantic before. They were an inspiration. The duo consists of a frontwoman and a producer that could not fit together more perfectly in terms of sound. The night ended with Alabama Shakes, a band that always delivers. Frontwoman Brittany Howard is a force to be a reckoned with. She has so much soul in every word she sings and she plays a guitar like I’ve never seen. Add this band to your bucket list.
I must admit, Day 3 was hotter than I was prepared for and I headed home much earlier than I intended. However, I was able to catch River Tiber, The Suffers, and Heartless Bastards. River Tiber is a new breakout artist that traveled all the way from Canada for the festival, and while he played the earliest set of the day, he gave all he had. This is an artist we’re sure to see more from in the coming months. Houston-natives The Suffers are a band to always catch if you have the chance to. Since the band comes from a port city, the members (and therefore the music) have many different influences ranging from reggae to soul to country to even cajun.
This festival had more woman-fronted bands than I had seen in a while and it was incredible to see so many women not only in the industry, but thriving in it. Heartless Bastards is certainly one of those bands. Frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom is a whole other level of musician with a voice you can’t stop listening to.
Forecastle Festival is a truly unique festival, with the cool air of the river and the heat of a crowd colliding in front of beloved bands. This was my first year attending and I’ll definitely be returning in the future. Louisville was a non-stop location of music from every genre this weekend, with something for absolutely everyone.
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