Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Forecastle 2014 Festival Review

Southern awesomeness

I bought super early pre-sale tickets for Forecastle 2014 back in December of last year.  The lineup had not yet been announced yet, but passes were priced nicely at around $120, so I figured it was worth it.  I went on Saturday in 2013 and it was so well put together and one of the most fun festivals I had ever been to.  With bands like The Black Keys and Avett Brothers headlining, I knew there had to be a chance they'd snag some pretty solid headliners this year.  Then the gods were looking out for me with Jack White and Beck coming out with albums earlier this just in time for festival season.  Sure enough Forecastle booked the veterans along with the journeymen of the 2014 summer festival season, Outkast.  I have been pretty hard on Outkast when seeing their festival schedule this year, but I really wasn't sure if I'd be in to them or not (you'll find out shortly).  With other talented and amusing bands also booked such as JJ Grey and Mofro, Gary Clark Jr., Tune-Yards, Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses and Brett Dennen, there was more then enough content to warrant the trip down south.  If it wasn't for the awful traffic heading in town from Ohio, it would have been a perfect weekend, but I missed the first show that I was really looking forward to see.  Let's take a look at Forecastle's eclectic lineup from start (sort of) to finish, band by band.



JJ Grey & Mofro

JJ Grey went on at 3:15pm on Friday afternoon without me in attendance.  As I mentioned I got stuck in traffic on 71S in a traffic jam that was caused by a closed lane due to construction on nothing.  One lane traffic for a bunch of orange barrels and yellow shirt a-holes sitting around eating Hostess Cup Cakes.  This was the third or fourth time I've missed JJ Grey over the last few years for a number of reasons.  Most notably in 2012 at Lollapalooza in which he played three songs before storms delayed the festival for several hours, without him coming back on after.  I'll see him one of these days.  Let me know if he's as awesome as I think he is.

Gary Clark, Jr.

I caught about half of Clark's set due to the same traffic jam (Thanks Louisville).  He still killed it.  I was surprised how 'R&B' Clark was.  I am a fan of a few of his songs, but you didn't need to be to enjoy his set.  He ripped through several notables to end the show, including 'Bright Lights' which set the weekend off for me.  Killed it.

Local Natives

Local Natives is a band that is grouped in with bands like Young the Giant, Portugal. The Man and The Naked and Famous for me.  Bands that have a few hits, but have not truly broke through main stream with a mega-hit.  They seemed very vanilla and canned.  Something that I guess I should have expected, but wanted to be surprised from.

Twenty One Pilots

We headed over to the main stage to see one of the bigger surprises of the weekend.  I was familiar with Twenty One Pilots but had never seen them live and had really not been into any of their music.  They changed my mind quickly as their set was full of high energy and in-your-face intensity.  Although they sound a bit like Macklemore, they had a bit more flare and rock.  I'd definitely see them again.


One of the biggest let downs of the weekend was Spoon.  I expected so much more from them especially since I'm a big fan of a ton of their songs.  They just had no spunk and left the crowd lifeless.  These guys seemed like they played chords, collected the money and moved on to the next city.  Kind of a bummer and it made me not a fan.  The only track that had me going was 'The Way We Get By'.


The Friday headliner was Atlanta hip-hop legends, Outkast.  As I mentioned, I've given Outkast so much heat for being 'festival whores' this summer (READ THIS: 2014 Music Festival Rankings).  I guess I get the cash grab, but they over-exposed themselves.  Then, after seeing their initial performances at Coachella in April, I was weary of what the would do the music festival scene forever.  On Friday night, they completely proved me wrong.  They absolutely exceeded every expectation I had.  They made Kanye West's Bonnaroo set look like child's play.  They hammered through a career spanning setlist that included every classic.  I guess I forgot how many hits they've produced over the years.  From 'Rosa Parks' to 'B.O.B.' to 'Miss Jackson' to 'Hey Ya', they killed them all.  The performance itself left me smiling.  Big Boi and Andre 3000 had everyone grooving with their moves, lyrics and in-between song banter which was hilarious.  It made me want to go home and dust off my old copy of 'Aquemini' (I just listened to it on Spotify instead).  Let me just take this moment to apologize to true legends in the music business.  I take it all back.  You deserve whatever you want to do.



Boy & Bear

Going into the festival, I thought Saturday might have had the least amount of content.  It ended up being not so bad of a lineup. The day started out with Australia folk band Boy & Bear.  I had heard a lot about this band coming into festival weekend and was excited to finally see them.  I thought they were decent, but not as good as how many people were praising them.  I will most certainly give them another, closer listen, but at the time they were scheduled with just getting there, they just weren't doing it for me.

Lord Huron

Lord Huron was another band I was looking forward to seeing for awhile.  They put on a decent performance that may have lacked a little energy.  Overall, I thought they did well and would see them again.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Sharon Jones has truly a touching story.  Struggling with cancer a year ago, she beat the disease and came back strong by jumping right back into touring.  Her courage and soul comes through in her lyrics and passionate voice.  Borrowing from the classic soul singers from the 60s and 70s, her voice carried the mostly all male band.  The park was grooving with every note from the captivating set.

Band of Horses

I didn't like Band of Horses when I first saw them live either last year or the year before at Lollapalooza.  They absolutely killed it on Saturday though.  I couldn't believe how spot on they sounded.  I came away from this show a bigger fan of any band at the festival.


Jack White

Jack mother loving White was the reason I came to Louisville.  Again, he did not disappoint.  Coming out with a vengeance to 'Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground', he absolutely had the crowd manic.  Pulling songs from every chapter of his illustrious career.  From 'Lazaretto' to 'Top Yourself' to 'Sixteen Saltines' to 'Icky Thump'.  At one point, White even covered Jay-Z's '99 problems' which surprisingly is the song that got the press from the show.  White's energy level was insanely high and he carried the crowd and consoled them by explaining, 'I understand what it's like to stand all day at a festival like this...'  His raucous set made everyone feel at least a little bit better.  Another awesome performance that will stick with me forever.  I can't wait to see him next week in Pittsburgh and then Detroit.


Brett Dennen

Dennen truly started the day for me after missing The Weeks earlier and just observing Lucius for a bit.  He had a melodious set in what was the first real experience I had with the Louisville heat which had been non-existent up to Sunday morning.  Dennen came out shoe and sockless, with a child-like pep and easy-going attitude.  He went through most of his hits like 'Comeback Kid' and 'Blessed'.  I really enjoyed this set and it was one of my top four favorites.

Jenny Lewis

I have a bit of a crush on Jenny Lewis as I have professed on this blog before.  She did everything to keep me hooked by having a show that was both interesting and entertaining.  She came out with a rainbow theme that was amusing and fun.  At one point, she brought out a set of twin sisters, dubbed 'The Watson Twins' and everything was very organized and in order making me feel like it was a show from the 60s.  She really impressed me and I will definitely check out her new album coming out soon, 'The Voyager'.

Nicklecreek / Tune-Yards / The Replacements

I tried to bounce around during the only real schedule conflict of the weekend.  Nicklecreek actually started during Jenny Lewis, but I headed over to catch a bit of their set.  From there, I headed across the festival grounds to the under the bridge stage to see Tune-Yards.  I was not feeling Tune-Yards at all.  The crowd was filled with an age group a bit younger than mine, 'tripping' on substances.  I really wanted to like Tune-Yards, but they might be a little bit avant-garde for me.  From there I moved over to The Replacements stage to see the veterans rock out in front of packed crowd.  They brought out Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day to play along their entire set.  I can see why they have had such a long, extensive career because they had every person in the crowd grooving.  From there I figured I'd head back over to the Nicklecreek stage and it was just in time to catch the track I dig the most from them, 'The Fox'.


The festival closer needed to close hard and had a lot to live up to based on what the festival crowds experienced the previous two nights.  Lucky for us, Beck was up for the challenge.  He came out with an up tempo set list which surprised me since his latest album is so mellow.  I had doubts about how his new album would translate to a festival atmosphere.  I guess I didn't have to worry about it because he only played one song from 'Morning Phase' I think.  He ripped through his classics of 'Devil's Haircut', 'New Pollution', 'Hell Yes', 'Loser' and closing with 'Where It's At'.  Beck is a legend and was the perfect cherry on top for a fantastic weekend at Forecastle.




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