Sunday, July 15, 2012
Matt Jordan: Storms push back Forecastle’s Saturday start, but wait proves well worth it
My Morning Jacket and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform Saturday during Forecastle Festival in Louisville's Waterfront Park.
Thunderstorms pushed back Forecastle’s Saturday start time one hour. Rather than cut the first half-dozen bands, the organizers decided to push everything back and shave 10-20 minutes off every band’s set. It was a good move, but one that left a lot of people constantly scrambling to find out what time bands were actually playing.
Last time I saw Justin Townes Earle he was dressed in a suit and hat, looking rather like an old timey southern gentleman. This time both he and his performance were a lot more relaxed. What hadn’t changed was his inclination for telling funny stories that may or may not be total lies. He’s a roguish charmer, a true product of the south.
Speaking of bands that are unmistakably southern, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band brought their dixieland sound up from New Orleans to delight a large crowd at Forecastle. They also brought out Andrew Bird and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James to sing songs with them. It was a great way to keep the spotlight on the timeless music they represent, but also draw in some people who might not be interested in jazz all that much.
Indie pop group Real Estate found that they had a pretty considerable audience when they took the stage on Saturday afternoon. Their crowd was no doubt due to their great album Days, which is great sunny afternoon listening. They got off to a slow start, but really hit their stride a couple songs in.
It’d been years since I saw Dr Dog, but their show on Saturday made me regret it. They’re masters at using looseness of performance to their advantage. Their folksy jangle pop really hit the spot in the summer heat. My only regret was that I couldn’t stay for the entire performance; I heard they played their great cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart it Races.”
For some weird reason the side stages at Forecastle are getting very little love from festivalgoers. Case in point: I saw James Vincent McMorrow with easily under 100 people in the audience. Even though he occasionally had to fight to be heard over the nearby dance music stage, he put on a really great intimate performance. Hopefully everyone else was enjoying whatever band they were seeing, because if not then they really missed out on this one.
It seems that every year Andrew Bird adds a member to his live band. In the old days that would have bothered me a bit, but now I can realize that he’s doing it for us. I mean, yes I miss the times where a lot of his songs would be built from the ground up by him sampling and looping different parts on his violin and building the song live in front of us. But lately his live show is just a lot more full — something that’s really important when performing for thousands of people at an outdoor music festival.
Futurebirds took the stage Saturday with their lead singer draped in a full-length feather cape.
The Futurebirds are easily the best young band I’ve caught so far at Forecastle. They took the stage in various feathered attire — their lead singer wearing a floor-length feather cape — and laid down some solid rock. As I watched them, I saw a spark of potential in them to be a great band.
If you’ve ever seen Girl Talk, you know the deal: Gregg Gillis DJs your favorite songs into one seamless mashup of all genres, all the while with a dozen or so fans dancing on stage alongside him. He’s pretty much perfected his performance at the moment, which gives him more time to focus on his tunes. Forecastle was a great example of what makes his show fun: dumb energy. No one goes to a Girl Talk show to think critically; they go to hear their favorite songs recontextualized… but mostly they go to dance.
My Morning Jacket’s headlining set wasn’t one full of greatest hits to win over new fans with only a passing familiarity with the group. This one was a show for fans who’ve seen the group numerous times and are willing to give up set staples “Wonderful Man” to get some rarely played tracks like “The Bear” and “Run Thru.”
Additionally they also brought out guests to help on a few songs: Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham played with the group on a cover of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” and Andrew Bird provided violin for a great performance of “Gideon.” They also threw out a great and crazy cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whispers” during which they threw out dozens of bananas while singing “Go, go, bananas, ‘nanas.” This was a fun, fun set.
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.