5 Ways Forecastle Festival is Repping the Bluegrass State
Louisville may best be known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, but after our visit back to the Bluegrass State we have reason to believe there’s a new dark horse in the race for spring’s top event. Forecastle Music Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary over Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29th), and after a lengthy hiatus, the 2022 installment held nothing back in terms of lineup, layout, and laid-back vibes. As always, its anchor came in the form of a carefree crowd and a talented roster curated to appeal to a variety of tastes.
"Forecastle has seen many evolutions over the last 20 years and our lineups have always been rooted in a diversity of acts and genres,” says Ted Heinig, President of AC Entertainment, the production company behind the longstanding event. “We paid attention to what fans were asking for and this year's lineup was no exception.”
Following its pandemic-era reset, the nautical-themed bash proved that it’s still an institution with help from internationally renowned names like Jai Wolf, Tame Impala, Rufus Du Sol, Tyler the Creator, Princess Nokia and many more.
Those who were less familiar with Louisville before attending, are now well-acquainted with its southern hospitality – one of the main reasons we’ve returned to Forecastle on multiple occasions ourselves. The people are incredibly friendly, the atmosphere is safe and all three days are sprinkled with endless reminders of what makes Kentucky so darned special. In many cases, these affirmations come directly from the mouths of ascendant artists – the same ones who make the trek back to show off their own hometown pride.
Like a tiny microcosm of the state itself, Forecastle came complete with Bible-thumping protestors who tried to rain on our parade (they failed), families who brought their babies to twerk with Troyboi for the first time (they thrived), and enough bourbon, barbecue and beats to take down a stallion (they tried, but hey, we’re still standing.)
Here are four other ways Forecastle Fest repped Louisville and made us feel proud during our Kentucky homecoming.
Headliners like Jack Harlow brought the hometown spirit.
The artist with the number one hit in the country took the top billing on Friday night – we’re talking about Jack Harlow, of course. “Celebrating what Louisville has to offer has always been paramount to us—not only for locals but for those visiting from around the country,” Heinig shares passionately. “We were thrilled to have Jack come home this year and he put on an absolutely incredible show that really celebrated the city and how it’s shaped him.”
There were shoutouts to his favorite hotel (21c — IYKYK), talk of creamy alfredo a la Vincenzo’s, and whispers of Hot Browns, Cherokee Park, and even the sprawling Mall of St. Matthews. Then there was the fashion – Harlow wore a massive charm of the key-shaped state, an accessory that likely cost him more than our college education (from WKU, not UofL sadly). We’ve seen acts like My Morning Jacket play the same slot, and the hometown heroes always exude an incredible energy. The “Industry Baby” rapper kept the tradition alive and well, and did it with sleek, Southern finesse, too.
Badasses like Phoebe Bridgers reminded us of our younger selves.
Phoebe Bridgers’ spunky attitude stole the show on Saturday. The indie-rock icon took moments to celebrate the high-school dropouts who slayed their GEDs, and even proudly proclaimed that she got an abortion because she “wanted to” (Louisville is home to KY’s last surviving abortion clinic, btw).
The guitar-strumming songstress also brought her puppy onstage along with some welcome queer energy to Waterfront Park before rounding out her set with her hit “I Know the End,” a song that doesn’t shy about hating where you’re from, and while we’ve been ambivalent about our KY roots in the past, Forecastle sure made us feel like maybe it deserved more love than we gave it.
The festival didn’t try to hide its roots.
Waterfront Park is about as Kentucky as it gets, positioned under bridges and highways, right in the heart of downtown. Butted up against a sometimes muddy Ohio River, it’s an industrial kind of park. But when we think about the acts we’ve seen there in previous years – names like RL Grime, Sam Smith, Beck, even a fledgeling Flume back in 2014, we recognize that there’s something truly special about the rigid, man-made location. As for this year – that was hands down the best Lane 8 set we’ve seen within 50-feet of a Joe’s Crab Shack.
Forecastle encouraged us to let our freak flags fly.
“If an ugly mother fucker like me can do this, you can too ,” Singer and Filmmaker, Oliver Tree announced unapologetically during his Sunday afternoon set. Sporting what looked like a messy yellow mullet and a retro-fitted windbreaker, he reminded the crowd that to love life is to love yourself. That sentiment was alive and well this weekend in form of glitter-covered, genderqueer teens and Nanas who could outshuffle their grandkids. There were four-year-olds with purple hair whose fashion senses far out pace our own. The vibes were on point with what Louisville has always represented in Kentucky – a bastion of cool and progressive thought in a largely conservative state.
Forecastle reinforced Kentucky’s love for live music.
While there were some stellar DJ sets from acts like Joel Corry (“Sandstorm” and “Levels” in the same five minute period – yes, please!) and Alison Wonderland (is she really going to give us a climactic throwback as satisfying as M83’s “Midnight City?” – indeed!), for us the weekend’s most riveting performances came from the live sphere, including those from names we’d never heard of before – dream pop acts like Dayglo and Coin. San Holo killed it with his “bb u ok?” live set, and even gave us a debut his new collab “We Will Meet Again” with Jai Wolf. Then, much to our disbelief, Porter Robinson came correct with an updated version of “Nurture” (live) that we were not at all expecting (And again, probably the only time we’ll see him that close to a deck full of onlookers noshing previously frozen king crab claws.)
Forecastle was weird, like us. And we loved it. We think you might, too. Sign up to hear when 2023 tickets go on sale here.