Youaintnopicasso’s Matt Jordan is reporting from Kentucky’s own Forecastle Festival for KyForward. The annual event, a three-day, multistage showcase of “music, art and activism,” is July 13-15 at Louisville’s Waterfront Park.
This Friday marks the beginning of the 10th annual Forecastle Festival. Kentucky’s contribution to the growing world of music festivals, Forecastle brings a staggering amount of music to our state, so here’s my take on the can’t-miss acts (along with a suggested schedule).
Friday’s Forecastle schedule guide
Friday starts with a performance by folk artist Abigail Washburn (5:30 p.m. @ Boom stage). You might recognize that name as a part of Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet — the group that first gained fame for Kentucky native cellist Ben Sollee. Given their connection, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to pop up on stage. But even if he doesn’t, this’ll be a great start to the day.
Next up you’ve got one of the first big choices ahead of you: indie dance-pop outfit Tanlines (6 p.m. @ Red Bull Ocean stage) or the new school reggae act Rebelution (6 p.m. @ Mast stage). If those descriptions alone don’t guide you enough, give Tanline’s ”All Of Me” and Rebelution’s ”Sky is the Limit” a spin and see where your heart takes you.
If you’re inclined to check out some local acts while at Forecastle — and I do encourage it — you could do no better than to make your way over to see L’ville’s up-and-commers Nerves Junior (6:30 p.m. @ Port stage). They sound like a mix between Beach House and the National, as seen best in their single ”Kale.” The only problem with that is that you can really only catch a couple songs before heading over to see one of the best new folk acts out there, the Head and the Heart (6:45 p.m. @ Boom). Listen to their song ”Down in the Valley” before their show, so you’ll know the name of the song that made you cry.
Now we enter the part of the day where you’ve got to decide to either plant yourself to catch a full set from your favorite acts or hop around to see a lot of great bands. I suggest hopping a bit until you catch something that really grabs you. Consider this path: Start with the creative one-man show of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox playing under his pseudonym Atlas Sound (7:15 p.m. @ Red Bull Ocean stage) — check out ”Te Amo” for him at his best; then move on to the verses that Atmosphere will be serving up (7:30 p.m. @ Mast) — see what he’s got to offer with ”Sunshine”; if you’re still in search of something great, go over to catch local boys Houndsmouth (8 p.m. @ Port) who just might wind up being the best young act at the fest — check out ”Krampus” if you doubt.
For a lot of people, Friday is THE day to catch a lot of their favorite acts who don’t tour through here too often. The after-dinner schedule is packed full of great bands like Beach House (8:15 p.m. @ Boom), who’ll be serving up enough dream pop to fill you for days. If you like ”Zebra” then you’ll love their show. But I know a lot of you will want to check out Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham (8:30 p.m. @ Starboard) playing his old group’s songs. Here he is doing ”Listen, the Snow is Falling”.
At night things are going to get crazy. Leading the madness are the king and queen of hard-rocking dance pop, Sleigh Bells. Listen to ”Riot Rhythm” and then imagine that performed live by a cheerleader and a metalhead guitarist and you’re pretty close to what their live show is actually like. Be sure to schedule in some time to see Wax Fang (9:30 p.m. @ Port) who always bring a great live show. Their psych/garage-rock is best shown with their song ”Bi-Polar Bear.”
Next you’ve got another tough decision: do you see Jack White’s garage rock favorites JEFF the Brotherhood (10 p.m. @ Starboard) or Thom Yorke’s spacey DJ buddy Flying Lotus (10:15 p.m. @ Red Bull Ocean). Listen to ”Sixpack” (NSFW video) and ”MmmHmm” to decide for yourself.
Lastly, I’ve got to suggest that you make time to catch Bowling Green’s Sleeper Agent (11 p.m. @ Port) before heading over to see Bassnectar (10:45 p.m. @ Mast) close out the night. Just listen to ”Get It Daddy” and tell me you aren’t hooked.
• 5:30 p.m. – Abigail Washburn @ Boom
• 6 p.m. – Tanlines @ Red Bull Ocean
• (6 p.m. – Rebelution @ Mast)
• 6:30 p.m. – Nerves Junior @ Port
• 6:45 p.m. – the Head and the Heart @ Boom
• 7:15 p.m. – Atlas Sound @ Red Bull Ocean
• 7:30 p.m. – Atmosphere @ Mast
• 8 p.m. – Houndmouth @ Port
• 8:15 p.m. – Beach House
• 8:30 p.m. – Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500
• 9:10 p.m. – Sleigh Bells @ Mast
• 9:30 p.m. – Wax Fang @ Port
• 10 p.m. – JEFF the Brotherhood @ Starboard
• 10:15 p.m. – Flying Lotus
• 11 p.m. – Sleeper Agent
• 11:30 p.m.-12 a.m. – Bassnectar
Saturday’s Forecastle schedule guide
Even though Saturday starts later than most music festivals (3 p.m. vs an AM start time), they still managed to cram in an insane amount of great acts. My early suggestions are to catch Merge Records act Wye Oak (3 p.m. @ Boom stage) — enjoy ”Fish” as a sampler; mashup artist Wick-It the Instigator (3:45 p.m. @ Red Bull) — try out the NSFW ”Grindhouse Basterds”; Americana legacy act Justin Townes Earle (4:15 p.m. @ Boom) — check out ”Harlem River Blues” — and NOLA’s Preservation Hall Jazz Band to start your day. If that’s not a diverse enough starting point, I don’t know what is.
If you’re still in a local act mood, I’d get your butt over to see Ravenna Colt (5 p.m. @ Port), ex-My Morning Jacket member Johnny Quaid — here’s ”If Josie Wails Can Fail” to show you why. Next, I’d make good on the rare opportunity to see Irish folksinger James Vincent McMorrow (5:30 p.m. @ Starboard) while you’ve got the chance. Try We Don’t Eat” on for size and see if it doesn’t fit. However, I wouldn’t take up your entire afternoon with him, because indie pop act Real Estate (5:45 p.m. @ Boom) has an act that is a total crowd-pleaser. Press play on ”It’s Real” and just know that they’re one of the few bands I’ve seen who can take an album this delicate and make it translate perfectly to a live show. Don’t miss these guys.
I haven’t seen Dr Dog (6 p.m. @ Mast) in a long time, but I get the feeling they’ve only gotten better since their great show last time I saw them. Listen to ”My Old Ways” and learn all the words for that big sing-along. On a similar stylistic note, I saw Futurebirds put on a great show at SXSW, and I highly recommend them to you lovers of powerful indie/Americana mixed-up American music. Check out their cover of Stevie Nicks’ ”Wild Heart” in preparation for Saturday’s show.
Next up you’ve got a solid bit of acts. So great in fact, that you’re likely to miss something good — but that’s OK! No matter what you
choose it’ll be a good show. You can see New Orleans funk/rock/jazz group Galactic (7:15 p.m. @ Boom); the violin folk-pop artist Andrew Bird (7:30 p.m. @ Mast) — take ”Skin Is, My” as a reason he’s not to be missed; or you can get all chill and enjoy the setting sun with Washed Out (7:30 p.m. @ Red Bull) — check out ”Feel It All Around” for a quick primer.
At night, you should do your best to make it over to see Kentuckian Daniel Martin Moore (8 p.m. @ Port) before running over to see the garage pop wonders the Features (8:30 p.m. @ Starboard). Check out ”It’s You” and ”Wooden Hammer” and revel in their greatness.
Nighttime offers a big problem. Girl Talk (9:15 p.m. @ Boom) will no doubt put on a good show — a great show if the sun sets by then. But I can’t in good faith advise you to skip even a minute of My Morning Jacket’s headlining set. They’re the closest thing our generation has to an enduring classic rock group, and their live show is the proof. Expect hours of excitement, guest appearances and maybe a cover or two.
• 3 p.m. – Wye Oak @ Boom
• 3:45 p.m. – Wick-It the Instigator @ Red Bull
• 4:15 p.m. – Justin Townes Earle @ Boom
• 4:30 p.m. – Preservation Hall Jazz Band @ Mast
• 5 p.m. – Ravenna Colt @ Port
• 5:30 p.m. – James Vincent McMorrow @ Starboard
• 5:45 p.m. – Real Estate @ Boom
• 6 p.m. – Dr Dog @ Mast
• 7 p.m. – Futurebirds @ Starboard
• 7:15 p.m. – Galactic @ Boom
• 7:30-9 p.m. – Andrew Bird @ Mast
• 7:30-8:30 p.m. – Washed Out @ Red Bull
• 8:00-8:30 p.m. – Daniel Martin Moore @ Port
• 8:30-9:30 p.m. – the Features @ Starboard
• 9:15 p.m. – Girl Talk @ Boom
• 9:30 p.m. – My Morning Jacket @ Mast
Sunday’s Forecastle schedule guide
Kelly Hogan (3 p.m. @ Starboard) sang with Neko Case for a while before going solo. She’s currently touring on an album of awesome songs written by some of her indie-rock royalty buddies. Here she is with ”We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Next up I’d suggest that you endure the afternoon heat to take in Lower Den’s (4:15 p.m. @ Starboard) set. Check out ”Brains” to see if they’re up your alley.
Lower Dens should be a decent segue into Cloud Nothings (4:45 p.m. @ Mast) — you should be ready for their energy anyway. Try out ”Should Have” before heading to the fest. Next up you should check out jam rockers Moon Taxi’s set (5:30 p.m. @ Starboard). I’ve heard from numerous people that they’re an incredible force live. One guy even went so far as to say they were the best band he saw at Bonnaroo. Here’s ”Mercury” to get us started out for the festival.
Next up you’ll want to catch either Deer Tick (6:15 p.m. @ Mast) or Daedelus (6:15 p.m. @ Red Bull). Listen to ”Miss K” and ”Just Briefly” while you make your decision. Either way you go, this should leave you a decent amount of time to catch the indie pop group Fruit Bats (7 @ Starboard) — here’s their excellent song ”When U Love Somebody” to convince you to check them out.
Do not, do not, do not miss Neko Case (7:45 p.m. @ Mast) — for an example of why, check out ”People Got a Lot Of Nerve.” She’s a national treasure — yes, she’s American even though she’s a member of Canada’s group the New Pornographers. She’s perhaps the best female Americana artist out there… scratch that. She may be the best Americana artist period. If you can pry yourself away from her, I’d suggest that you take a quick swing over to see Louisville’s Cheyenne Marie Mize (8 p.m. @ Port) in action. After that, you can see Ben Sollee (8:30 p.m. @ Starboard) do some impressive work with a cello. If you’ve never seen him before, this would be an excellent time. Here he is doing ”Electrified” live with a backing band.
To end the night, you can catch A-Track (9 p.m. @ Red Bull) do a bit of spinning before running off to see Clutch (9:15 p.m. @ Boom) tear it up. You’ll want to check out ”Electric Worry” before heading to Forecastle. To end the night, we’ll be treated to a set by Wilco (9:30 p.m. @ Mast). Be sure to get there early because they like to bust out ”I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” within the first four songs of their set, and it’s possibly the best live song you’ll hear all year.
• 3 p.m. – Kelly Hogan @ Starboard
• 4:15 p.m. – Lower Dens @ Starboard
• 4:45 p.m. – Cloud Nothings @ Mast
• 5:30 p.m. – Moon Taxi @ Starboard
• 6:15-7:15 p.m. – Deer Tick @ Mast
• 6:15-715 p.m. – Daedelus @ Red Bull
• 7 p.m. – Fruit Bats @ Starboard
• 7:45-9 p.m. – Neko Case @ Mast
• 8-8:30 p.m. – Cheyenne Marie Mize @ Port
• 8:30-9:30 p.m. – Ben Sollee @ Starboard
• 9 p.m. – A-Trak @ Red Bull
• 9:15 p.m. – Clutch @ Boom
• 9:30 p.m. – Wilco @ Mast
Matt Jordan of Lexington is a the creator of Youaintnopicasso.com, a music blog he started in 2004 as a freshman at the University of Kentucky. His regular updates about music and musicians, interviews, concert reviews and industry news have gained him a wide national audience and helped make him an opinion leader in the music industry.