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The record-setting 60,000 fans attending Forecastle Festival got close over the course of three days. Like, strangers “playing cards on the lawn while waiting in the front row for music acts to start” close. Which actually did happen. The psyched-out weekend has grown to the point where other venues and bars around Louisville were packed with sold-out after-party shows too. The people embraced the music and soaked up real and imagined Kentucky culture like the sincere affection for bourbon and meeting other people in the open, wild and free 85-acre Waterfront Park downtown that featured scenery of the Ohio River glowing under neon lights as soon as the sun fell.
The good vibes that run through this festival, now 12 years running, was noted by Abner Ramirez of the Nashville husband and wife duo, JOHNNYSWIM: “There’s always a different energy here,” Ramirez said, after their Saturday evening set. “People get completely overwhelmed by satisfaction all day long. So it’s bringing them a little extra. We’re pretty much giving them all bodyshots, not let people come up for air, if that metaphor makes sense. There’s not a lot of experimenting. We wanna give you the best.” And so they did. The chemistry and musical connection between the two was palpable. Their urbane take on rootsy folk provided powerful, rich vocals that ran as deep as the flowing Ohio River behind the stage. PBR cans were held high in approval.
Before their Saturday afternoon slot, Australia’s Boy & Bear were like excitable fanboys when they noticed their top iTunes playlist artist, Ray LaMontagne, would be playing Forecastle on Sunday. “To be honest, we were booked a month ago,” said lead singer/guitarist Dave Hosking. “So it’s not necessarily the area that drove me here, but the opportunity to do a great show. It’s nice to experience an awesome city and you don’t necessarily always get to do that [with big outdoor festivals]. The lineup is pretty insane!” Indeed. Outkast closed out Friday night, Jack White Saturday, and Sunday’s wrap-up was perfect.
For the Weeks’ Sunday afternoon set, snappy piano beats provided way more than enough backbone for the group’s groove. The Jackson, MS, pounded out summertime anthems back-to-back-to-back, making attendees wish for a seven-day weekend.”We start our next album tomorrow [Monday]. It’s always cool. Rinse, lather, lather repeat,” said Weeks’ vocalist Cyle Barnes.
After the surprisingly high energy, harmonious grooves and rainbow love vibes (and kooky suit) that Jenny Lewis put on, the stage was perfectly set for the highly anticipated Replacements showing. The legendary band (well, two of the originals at least) didn’t disappoint, as it looks like they’re finally hitting a groove with this reunion. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong kept his post again as the third guitarist for the fourth time in the recent seven Replacements shows so far. He played the entire set smoothly, with an occasional blunder that felt like charming little mistakes—the big-time guitarist rubbing elbows with legends and feeling like a nervous kid again. Armstrong got to first base with Paul Westerberg, however. Westerberg’s microphone slid down during Cant Hardly Wait, then Armstrong came over and shoved it up into its proper placement. That’s when Westerberg thanked Armstrong with a kiss on the lips. “Our one-day rehearsal did not pay off,” Westerberg said jokingly to the crowd of adoring, longtime fans.
Beck finally closed out the whole thing with a long, spirited show.
Photos and words by Natasha Simmons.