Monday, July 16, 2012
Matt Jordan: Wilco’s lesser-known set headlines Forecastle 2012 Sunday finale
Wilco performs Sunday during the final day of Forecastle Festival in Louisville's Waterfront Park.
I saw Lower Dens earlier this year at South-By Southwest and wasn’t really impressed with their live show. Now, just a few short months later, they’ve clearly improved a lot. They lost a little ground in the visuals department since their early afternoon show had no light show to speak of, but they’ve grown a lot sonically since I last caught them. Hopefully with a little more touring under their belt, Lower Dens will grow into a group I can really get behind.
I can never remember if I’m a Cloud Nothings fan but today at least I figured out why that opinion never seems to stick in my brain: they’re a good group, but not at all my thing. I was clearly in the minority, though, given their large crowd that seemed very into it. They drew in and kept a large audience with their new take on the indie-pop/punk hybrid.
Moon Taxi have spent the past few years steadily growing a fanbase through extensive touring in the southern stages. These Tennesseans finally seem ready to have their big break into a lasting career. Their set at Forecastle was my first time seeing them (unless they’re the jam band I remember seeing several times at the Fishtank, which is fairly likely). I’d heard great stuff about their live show so I made sure to get there far in advance. Unlike Cloud Nothings, Moon Taxi aren’t really my thing, but I’d see them live several times more. They’re so good at their particular way of jamming on some sunny southern rock that it’s hard not to be a little drawn in. It’s no wonder the crowd were singing along with almost every song’s chorus.
R&B act Charles Bradley has been around a long time. It’s evident from nearly everything about him; his clothes, his songs and face all scream that he’s been doing this quite a long time. But nothing betrays his age more than his attitude toward performing. He’s still coming at his shows with the attitude that he owes us a great show. That was clear from his first line on stage, “Thanks for coming out. I’m going to try to make your day.” This was some quality R&B from a classic performer.
Deer Tick were in great form at Forecastle. Before they started, lead singer John Mccauley went to a microphone and said “I’d like to take a minute to offer up a prayer for our friend who is involved with gangs and drugs. …Just kidding, he’s bad ass. He doesn’t need our prayers.” But goofiness alone is a pretty boring show — Deer Tick also brought the rock.
For many (myself included), Neko Case’s Sunday set at Forecastle was the most anticipated show of the weekend. She’s such a great performer with such a full back catalogue that people really go nuts for her. If there were any of the uninitiated in her audience, I’m sure that set won them over. She did a handful of new songs and a lot of her biggest hits. Watching her while the sun set was one of the best moments of the festival.
If My Morning Jacket’s set on Saturday had a setlist for their fans who’d seen them numerous times, Wilco’s was a set full of early or underplayed material. In short, it was all the songs you walk away from Wilco shows saying “why couldn’t they have played [blank]?” We got incredible performances of “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” “Box Full of Letters” and “I’m Always in Love.” The only downside to their great show was that it had to end at 11pm on the dot.
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.