Forecastle 2014: Top 10 Sets + Photos

Festival Review


    The festival that started as a small local affair in a city park has grown over the past decade into one of the largest annual music festivals in the Midwest. This year, Forecastle Festival saw record attendance – to the tune of 80,000 people – and one of the most diverse lineups thanks in part to Ashley Capps (Bonnaroo, Big Ears) at the helm. Beyond the big headliners, dedication to local arts and eats, and an environmental advocacy slant, the other big attraction of Forecastle this weekend was the weather. Rather than the brutal July sun, Louisville’s Waterfront Park saw English weather most of the weekend: lower-70s as highs and a light mist. More of that please, Mother Nature.

    But the music took precedence above all, and this past weekend was full of great sounds. And while there were certainly some higher highs, there weren’t too many lows (thank God), which made this Top 10 quite difficult to piece together. Nonetheless, we assembled a list worthy in at least our eyes. So, read on and take a trip back to Louisville.

    10. The Black Lips


    Photo by Michael Powell

    Kicking off the weekend, The Black Lips set the proper tone for Forecastle right out the gate during their 2 p.m. Friday slot. Sure, they might be a bit tamer these days via their latest album, Underneath the Rainbow, but the live show still packs a ferocity that first brought attention to these rowdy, Southern gentlemen garage rock tent revivalists. –Michael Powell


    9. Mount Moriah


    Photo by Zach Hart

    Sometimes great rock and roll is all you and need. Similar to Neko Case’s 2012 Forecastle appearance, Mount Moriah put on a no-frills set that leaned on their at-ease songwriting and alt-country rock sensibilities. The band kicked off the set with some favorites off 2012’s Miracle Temple and then treated the crowd to some brand-new songs off their forthcoming album. The newer fare sounds spectacular and finds Mount Moriah building slowly on their previous work. If this show was any indication, their next offering has shot up my most anticipated upcoming releases list. –Zach Hart

    8. tUnE-yArDs


    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Merrill Garbus’s insane, new live band packed the Ocean Stage with one of the most enthusiastic crowds I’ve ever seen at Forecastle. It certainly helped to draft Louisvillian Dani Markham to hit skins. Two drummers, two backup singers, an array of outfits showing love for the early ’90s, creative face paint, and Garbus’s trademark looping assembly line and ukelele brought forth the oddest and coolest dance party of the weekend. –Michael Powell

    7. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks


    Photo by Michael Powell

    Animal Collective were scheduled to play last year’s fest but had to cancel due to Dave Portner’s health. Guess he wanted to make it up by bringing his new Slasher Flicks project to Louisivlle. Having lost touch with the AC gang’s various side projects the past few years, I walked in with no expectations and came out a believer. Fans of pre-Sung Tongs Animal Collective can rejoice in the return of maniacal Avey Tare, complete with danceable beats. The new project features Angel Deradoorian of The Dirty Projectors behind a wall of Moog synths and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman. Easily some of the best AC-related output in recent memory, and a phenomenal, surprisingly energetic live sound. –Michael Powell

    6. Slint


    Photo by Michael Powell

    Forecastle provided the second Slint show of their 2014 reawakening (the first was a secret show in a 200-capacity room). While it might sound surprising that Slint were scheduled at the smaller, under-the-bridge Ocean Stage, the shade and intimacy provided the perfect backdrop for their murky deconstructionist rock – as well as a fine refuge for people who couldn’t care less about Jack “Hi I Just Moved to Nashville, Check Out My Country Songs” White’s headlining set. With the original lineup of Brian McMahan, Dave Pajo, and Britt Walford, Slint covered all the bases, kicking off with “Glenn” from their post-breakup two-song eponymous EP, plowing through Spiderland, and ending with the harmonics-laden, almost anthemic, Tweez-closing “Rhoda”. Slint forever retains the magic of a band who created something new, and that excitement is palpable throughout their live show. –Michael Powell

    5. Sharon Van Etten


    Photo by Michael Powell

    Sharon and her band were, to my knowledge, the only act who came out on stage donned completely in black despite the afternoon sun (the first appearance of the sun all weekend). As such, this makes Sharon Van Etten the most metal of the Forecastle lineup. She also won most charming stage banter, poking fun at the tortured artist by exclaiming, “This is an older song, which I wrote when I was feeling upset, as I tend to do when I’m upset because I have a lot of feelings and am original” before launching into “Don’t Do It”. She also introduced “Break Me” as a song about windows. Sharon rules. –Michael Powell

    4. Jalin Roze


    Photo by Zach Hart

    One of the great pleasures of having a hometown festival is seeing local talent get the dues they deserve. Such was the case with Louisville’s best hip-hop artist, Jalin Roze, who played in front of one of the biggest WPFK Port Stage crowds the whole weekend. Showing off his new backing band, which features electric violin, heavy drums, piano, and horns a plenty, Roze burst into his beloved catalog of Louisville-centric rhymes and his theme of chasing dreams at all costs. This theme was rather touching considering the crowd was witnessing the guy’s dreams coming true in front of their eyes.

    Jalin Roze stepped up for a big opportunity and took it without ever letting go. The energy from the crowd lasted well after the grounds began to clear, with several people staying behind and chanting, “One more song” over and over. As a Louisville resident, this set was on par with the headliners of the fest and showed that Forecastle should continue to take chances on highlighting locals; they might just deliver one of the best sets of the weekend. –Zach Hart

    3. Sun Kil Moon

    sunkilmoon 2

    Photo by Lilian Cai

    “How’s it going hillbillies?” The first line of banter from Mark Kozelek was greeted with boos. This year’s acclaimed singer-songwriter took a ginning pause and added, “I’m just fucking with you.” The crowd exploded with applause. It was a quick moment that highlighted the man himself: cantankerous, witty, and fun with a bite. The show followed this formula as awkward banter led way to beautifully plucked acoustics that sucked the air out of the sunny waterfront space.

    Kozelek has been receiving his best press to date and seeing his fan base grow, but none of it has seemed to change what he truly is: a songwriter telling beautiful, personal stories. For an hour, Kozelek floated through his discography, ignoring shouted requests, while poking fun at the audience, muzzling even the drunkest in the crowd with his patented “every word matters” style of songwriting.

    There was a brief moment where I looked out upon the large crowd and smiled. After more than a decade of writing under Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek is finally being rewarded for his unique talents, and it was obvious he never once changed to achieve what he always deserved. –Zach Hart


    2. OutKast


    Photo by Lilian Cai

    Leading up to Friday’s OutKast performance, several people expressed their concern that they had heard “the Outkast reunion was a disaster so far.” It just goes to show how important first impressions are because while OutKast did have a shaky start to their 40-plus festival run at Coachella, having watched several live streams thereafter, I understood they had quickly recovered and were putting on an amazing festival show.

    The biggest difference between Coachella and every festival since then is simple: Andre 3000. He seemed in a haze during their first festival reunion show, but under the lights in Louisville, his larger-than-life persona filled the waterfront with an energy that touched even the last person towards the back of the massive crowd. The duo moved across their own discography with such ease and fun that there was something for every type of Outkast fan. A group of youngsters stood with their arms crossed the entire show until “Hey Ya!” blasted through the speakers, while a lone soul lit up at the first note of “Player’s Ball” and rapped along to every word.

    The very fact that OutKast is so universal yet polarizing within their own morphing discography shows that the duo are true artists who can connect with almost every music fan song after song. If you’re a fan and not sure if it’s worth shelling out the festival bucks to see them live … do it. Not only is it worth it, but OutKast put on the best large festival show I’ve ever seen. –Zach Hart


    1. The Replacements


    Photo by Lilian Cai

    On Sunday evening, Paul Westerberg strolled on stage as if The Replacements never went away, dropped to his knees, and prayed for God to deliver the setlist. With the flick of his cigarette and a guitar placed over his shoulder, the band stormed into “Takin a Ride” and never let go of the audience once until the 21-song storm of a set ended. A generational gap found itself in discussions later as some were thrilled that Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong played the entire set as the third guitarist, but this was nothing more than the small text for die-hard Replacement fans.

    There were dozens of magical moments, ranging from Westerberg shouting at his bandmates during a missed harmony and then later slapping his own head and saying, “Bad Paul, Bad!” Or the ease in which the original members showed off their punk sensibility without ever once forcing it as aging bands typically seem to do. My favorite moment of the entire Forecastle Festival: Westerberg sitting down for a powerful rendition of “Androgynous” and then standing to say, “It’s a good song, I must admit.”

    These are the simple moments a fanboy dreams of when wanting a band to reunite who he missed in their prime. The Replacements delivered on every hope I had for this show and changed my mind about the cautionary tales of reunions. They can work and The Replacements are showing us how. –Zach Hart


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