Day one of Forecastle got off to a slow and murky start as Mother Nature made her presence known sprinkling the attendees as the gates opened. Wandering the grounds for 30 minutes before the music began proved useful because it was then I realized the difference in layout from last year’s Forecastle. Each stage got bigger and the WFPK Port Stage moved from next to the Bourbon Lodge to parallel with the other stages with its back to the river. Forecastle also left a lot of room for the thousands soon to arrive.
I stopped by Public and Old Baby to start the day, finding the opposite ends of an enthusiasm spectrum, seeing jumping and wallowing respectively. I was also glad to hear Benjamin Booker’s single “Violent Shiver,” a song he had played on The Late Show with David Letterman before Booker had even announced an album.
But overall, action had not particularly picked up, and it stayed that way as I meandered Forecastle for a few hours waiting for the huge block of bands that I was really looking forward to seeing.
Business picked up when Against Me! took the stage at 4 p.m. Power chords, power stances, and fists in the air. The sun came up and this Gainesville punk rock band brought Forecastle back to life.
Next I made my first trip to see St. Lucia, the synth pop creation of Jean-Philip Grobler, at the Ocean Stage. The Ocean Stage is just something magical. It’s actually under I-64 and it creates a perfect urban stage environment that fits electronic acts very well because it allows for a fantastic high energy, light show. And that’s exactly how St. Lucia performed. For their whole hour (St. Lucia was one of the two acts on Friday that I watched the whole set), Grobler and his band jumped, danced, and sweated their way through most of their debut album “When The Night.” I was not in a muggy Louisville July during that set; I was in tropical hideaway.
Gary Clark Jr. shredding and Local Natives harmonizing made for great fillers before I saw the set to beat for the weekend from Twenty One Pilots. Twenty One Pilots (the other set I saw in its entirety) are just two small in stature, high energy guys, but drummer Josh Dun and singer/keyboardist Tyler Joseph poured everything they had into their set. They played drums on top of the crowd, did flips, got the crowds to get on each other’s shoulders, and used every part of the stage. They were organized chaos.
The last two acts of the day for me were Spoon and Outkast. Spoon’s crowd was huge and for good reason. I came in near the half-way point of Spoon’s set and was pleased I got to hear “The Underdog.” The 20 minutes I spent with Spoon were a nice, rock cleanser before Outkast.
Then I finished the day with Outkast. They were better than expected. I figured if these guys had been performing nearly the same setlist at every festival they were going to, they might be getting bored with it at this point. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Outkast had a fantastic live band to accompany them and they were up and down the stage, rapping and singing and throwing in banter like when Andre 3000 said, “I’m going to go talk to God and tell him to turn the faucet off.” Rain had returned during their set in their form of a hard drizzle.
It was definitely a successful Forecastle Friday. The music was great. Weather could have been better, but when you are surrounded by great tunes and good vibes, nothing can go wrong.
Photos by Will Ford and Josh Lee.