A diverse mix of rock with touches of folk, R&B, and blues sounded across the Louisville waterfront under a blanket of tropical heat with headline acts, The Avett Brothers, Alabama Shakes, and Ryan Adams.
The Forecastle Festival returned to Louisville for its 14th year of art, music, and activism. What began as a small festival in 2002 has grown into a highly anticipated annual event drawing 65,000 fans from across the country and featuring more than 55 bands on four stages at Waterfront Park.
Proceeds from the Festival go to the Forecastle Foundation, whose mission is to protect endangered areas of the planet.
Friday, July 15, 2016: Opening Day
Headliner The Avett Brothers closed out a fantastic evening of music at the Louisville waterfront with a sixteen song powerhouse of a main set, which included a little of everything for both new and longtime fans.
Their three-song encore included a Willie Nelson cover of “Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” along with “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” before closing out the evening’s music with fan favorite “No Hard Feelings.”
The first day of the festival yielded many memorable moments, starting with a high-energy performance by Group Love on the Mast Stage. They opened with “Iâ€™m With You,” the popular hit “Tongue Tied,” and their signature cover of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys before closing with fan-favorite “Colours.”
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals kicked off their set with “When Sex was Dirty” along with “Finding Our Way” and “Burn one Down” before ending with a Buddy Miles cover of “Them Changes.” Fittingly, as Ben Harper and the guys were taking their final bows, the finale of a fireworks display burst overhead.
On the Boom Stage, the Nashville-based indie rock band, Moon Taxi, earned many new fans while supporting their 2015 Daybreaker album.
Phosphorescent, fronted by singer-songwriter, Matthew Houck, entertained the crowd with their distinctive experimental rock and folk sound.
The soulful vocals worthy of a Gospel revival opened the day with the talented Liz Vice from Portland, Oregon.
No Forecastle Festival would be complete without the threat of a massive storm and the evacuation of the festival grounds, which occurred around 6:00 pm. The event staff handled the inclement weather in a professional manner, allowing the festival to continue after a 90-minute delay.
Saturday, July 16, 2016: Day 2
On a blazing hot day in Louisville, festival goers packed into the waterfront for the second day of music headlined by Grammy-winning American blues-rock group the Alabama Shakes.
Their show on the Mast Stage was full of emotion as Brittany Howard rolled thru fantastic numbers opening with “Future People,” followed by “Rise to the Sun,” and “Always Alright.”
Brittanyâ€™s booming voice rolled over the Louisville waterfront as they played favorites including “Joe,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Gimme All Your Love.” Alabama Shakes ended the evening with “You Ainâ€™t Alone.”
Before the Alabama Shakes set, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer addressed festival goers are Mast Stage along with Muhammad Ali family friend, John Ramsey. They urged everyone to raise their hands to show compassion for the rest of the world in honor of late prize-fighter.
Earlier in the day, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness played the Boom Stage, where he hung over the barrier singing to the crowd packed in front of the stage.
Meanwhile, on the Ocean Stage (actually under a freeway overpass), the Detroit hip hop artist, Danny Brown, played a loud, aggressive show, firing up the crowd. Those in attendance left pleased as the chatted about his set.
The Arcs, the side project of the guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, served up a memorable performance including a rousing cover of “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Temptations, “Little Baby” by The Blue Rhondos, and a cover of The Kinksâ€™ “Big Sky.” They closed with “Outta My Mind,” off of their 2015 debut LP, Yours, Dreamily.
Los Angeles indie rockers Local Natives played for 75-minutes, including material from their most recent album, Sunlit Youth, and their new single “Past Lives.”
Sunday, July 17, 2016: Closing Day
Sunday was again blazing hot. The temperature was nearly unbearable making it difficult to spend any length of time in the sun. Even so, fans bore through the incessant heat for the final day of the festival.
Many were eager to see headliner singer-songwriter Ryan Adams close the festival. Ryanâ€™s set did not disappoint the many fans who surrounded the Mast Stage as the sun was setting over the Ohio River.
Many fantastic performances highlighted the day. Gary Clark Jr. opened his set on the Mast Stage to chants of “Gary, Gary, Gary.” The band rolled thru many fan favorites, punctuated by his distinctive guitar tone, including “Bright Lights,” “Ainâ€™t Messin â€˜Round,” and “The Healing” before closing his set with “Numb.”
In the full heat of the day, Anderson East took his turn on the Mast Stage in front of a large group of fans and delivered a moving and soulful performance that showcased his vast talents. As a side note, this day was Andersonâ€™s birthday; in between songs, fans shouted birthday wishes which Anderson seemed to enjoy.
Not to be outdone, Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke roared onto the Boom Stage with an eight-song set that had the crowd rolling. They opened with “Fire in the Hole,” playing favorites like “Six Ways to Sunday” before ending with “Living in the Song.” The band was clearly having a great time, as were fans massed at the barrier.
Also worthy of mention was the electric performance by Death Cab for Cutie. The Washington state band opened with “No Room in Frame,” also playing “Crooked Teeth” and “Why You’d Want to Live Here.” They nailed their 18-song set to the delight of everyone in attendance.
All in all, Forecastle was a fantastic festival and a special event. The diverse mix of nearly 60 bands, performing as many hours of music made this event a success and left the masses ready for next year.