A Bastion of Music

Staff Writer

If you want to know the best moment of any music festival, just remember – it’s usually not the music or atmosphere, nor the friends that make it. The real best moment is when you wake up the following day and remember those exact same things – all of the above, all over again. They seem better, seemingly improved through the pink haze of yesterday’s mirth.

For this year’s Forecastle Festival, a yearly music extravaganza held on Louisville’s Waterfront Park, that exact moment was when 65,000 people barrelled their way out of the park close to midnight having just sweated through an elongated and a thoroughly riveting set by Jack White. It could have been the electric and primal nature of his guitar playing, or the spiritual and emotional wail of his voice. Or perhaps much more likely is that he closed his epic set with the anthemic Seven Nation Army – a song with a riff so simple and unifying that any throng of people from any country can quite happily sing it in unison and in tune no matter their state of inebriation. The end result was the crowd leaving on that second night, singing in unison until the entire great lawn was emptied, the chorus and verse and echoing and bouncing around the underside of I-64. It continued as revellers poured onto the streets,  while cabs filled up,  ready to ferry Louisvillians to the next party destination.

All in all, over the three days there were 60 bands spread across four stages. In the crowd were hula hoops, cops, costumes, giant walking puppets, face paint, hippies, frat boys, neon colored accessories, people who tried too hard and a whole lot of cut off denim shorts – arguably the uniform of the entire weekend and summer. But there was also spectacular music everywhere to be seen.

A look at the crowd at Waterfront Park before Jack White took to the stage.

A look at the crowd at Waterfront Park before Jack White took to the stage.

The opening night saw hip-hop veterans Outkast play a career-spanning set that took in all their best hits. “Caroline” saw a run as did “Ms Jackson,”  and of course, one of the best pop songs written in the last 20 years – “Hay Ya” – for which the band brought on a kabal of girls from the crowd to “shake it like a polaroid picture.” Friday’s set also included fun things like lead singer Andre 3000 doing push-ups on stage while wearing a black jump suit with the words “Obviously Oblivious” emblazoned across it, along with a “Sold” tag hanging from his waist. Oh yeah, and a silver wig. Why? Because why not, right?

With a festival like Forecastle, it’s all too easy to meander between stages, catching small slivers of sets before finding the next piece of aural dessert to feast on. It’s why you could wander quite happily on Saturday from Jason Isbell’s heartbreaking blue collar epistles to catch Band of Horses play a raucous set all within a few songs of each other. Nor is diversity of tastes a problem either. Old school Dwight Yoakam was as warmly greeted as rapper and local stalwart Jalin Roze.

And of course if the music did one thing, it was garner a mighty thirst and appetite. If only the state fair had much of the same food as Forecastle. Tacos? Sure. Weird fried thing? Okay then. Of course, there was still your good old funnel cake and other mighty cholesterol and trans fat behemoths, but there was diversity in nibbles that you only get once a year.

Sunday night saw musical magpie Beck round off this year’s version of Forecastle, and with it, he left an estimated 65,000 fans thinking that next year couldn’t come soon enough.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune