Saturday, Day 2
All Photos by Bill Foster
There aren’t many festivals that can deliver a main-stage one-two punch quite like Sturgill Simpson and LCD Soundsystem, who performed within just one hour of each other. But Forecastle isn’t your average festival.
Phantogram, Vince Staples, Beach Slang and a band called Glittertitz occupied the space between Stu and LCD, while The Shelters kicked off the day with brutally good indie rock that would make the rockers of yesteryear proud.
It’s hard to imagine that JK McKnight could have envisioned hosting such a diverse event when he started Forecastle in his mother’s backyard fifteen years ago, but he did it. And we’re all better off for it. Over the years, he’s gotten a little help from his friends (AC Entertainment came on board a few years ago, and Ken Weinstein and Holly McKnight are the best press duo on Earth); now as a result, Forecastle has become the premier mid-tier festival in the region. As we set sail on the final day of the fifteenth anniversary, here’s a look back at day two.
The Shelters may end up being the saviors of real rock ‘n’ roll in the modern age. The LA-based group shredded the Boom Stage, powering through every song with a rugged yet refined intensity. Chase Simpson and Josh Jove (who both appear on Tom Petty’s “Hypnotic Eye”) are incredible guitarists, and Jacob Pillot may possibly be the most talented bassist in music today. Highlights included “Rebel Heart,” a jangly, toe-tapping rock song that truly showcases the band’s musical abilities, and their cover of “Lost Woman” by The Yardbirds shows what the band is all about. Get ready to see The Shelters take over much bigger stages at festivals next year. – Matt Miller
Lucy Dacus’ debut album “No Burden” was a 2016 favorite and a top-ten album on my list, so I was disappointed with her set at Bonnaroo, which seemed a bit quiet and lackluster. No more. Buoyed by a new drummer, her alternately mesmerizing and raucous Forecastle set was a revelation from the quieter more introspective material like “Map on a Wall” to the guitar drenched, jammy “I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore.” – Bill Foster
Nineteen-year-old Jack Harlow is already a fixture on the Louisville hip-hop scene with an EP, an album and a single produced by Grammy nominee Syk Sense already behind him. At Forecastle on Saturday, Harlow mustered a giant crowd of local folks singing along to seemingly every word he let flow. Energetic and charming, Harlow recently stated he wants to be a national fixture; with a few more shows like this, he soon will be. – BF
The former lead guitarist/backing vocalist of powerhouse rock group Paramore is now based in Nashville, and he brought a crop of players into Waterfront Park for a fun afternoon performance at the Port Stage on Saturday. Jaunty pop with a slight disco edge, it wasn’t the deepest music I’ve ever heard, but it was pleasant enough, and it seemed to attract a good segment of the younger attendees. – Matt Rankin
Oklahoma native Jonathan David McPherson has slowly been working his way up the festival circuit leading to his 4-p.m. slot on Forecastle’s main stage on Saturday. In spite of the blistering heat, McPherson delivered a rowdy set full of his inspired combination of Nick Lowe-style pop and ’40s jump-blues guitar. “It Shook Me Up” and “Desperate Love” were highlights of a set that covered the majority of McPherson’s two major-label releases. – BF
Ages and Ages
A rollicking folk-pop group from Portland that incorporates a variety of nontraditional instruments into their recorded and live performances, Ages and Ages exhibited a solid stage presence at the Port. But it was their gorgeous harmonies, thickly coalescing in the hot summer air, that sold the band to me. It was an impressive showing by a unique collection of musicians, and it proved to be one of the more uplifting shows of the weekend thus far. – MR
Charlotte-based but with deep East Tennessee roots, the gothic Americana band delivered a knockout sunset performance on the Port Stage. Perhaps it was a matter of the music catching my ear in the right way at the right time, but this show elicited goosebumps on more than one occasion and served as one of the more affecting sights I’ve witnessed at Forecastle over the years. It was rejuvenating material and laid positive groundwork for what would be a fantastic night. – MR
After watching Portland trio of sisters Joseph perform an acoustic mini-set in the press tent at Bonnaroo, I’ve been anxious to catch a full set, and the band did not disappoint at Forecastle. Opening with a charged, distorted version of “Stay Awake” and alternating between sweet folk and power pop, they still always retained the kind of remarkable singing of harmonies that only seems to happen between siblings. – BF
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
After nearly two years since their album debut, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats took the main stage on Saturday, leaving no doubt of just how popular they have become. Rateliff’s unique, soul-soaked vocal style is captivating and works perfectly with the energy of his 7-piece band. The “rock and soul-ers” powered through hits such as “I Need Never Get Old,” which highlights both the collective and individual skill of this group. Complete with a tribute to Chuck Berry and a song from their forthcoming album, Rateliff and company put their stake in continuing to move up festival lineups and fill main stages with their electric, soulful energy. – MM
Long known for his staunch anti-showmanship stance, Simpson took the stage in jeans and a t-shirt (although he has traded in his trademark New Balances for new kicks) with minimal lighting and graphics and proceeded to deliver the show of the festival so far. Simpson’s band’s lineup has changed drastically over the years from the two-organ setup of the Metamodern tour to the horn-dominated shows of recent months. Faced with the loss of Estonian wunderkind Laur Joamets, Simpson has picked up the electric guitar again, and he is now fronting a taut four-piece that shredded through one of tightest sets I’ve ever seen. From the opening eleven-minute blast of “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)” through a cover of Freddie King’s “I’m Going Down” to “Turtles All the Way Down” and “Breaker’s Roar,” Simpson was on fire, turning almost every song into a psyched-out jam fest. While the band transformed every song, Simpson’s remarkable voice kept even the loudest and lengthiest jam firmly in the realm of country music, which made this a set those present will remember for a long, long time. – BF
No band at Forecastle displayed more sarcasm than Philly’s Beach Slang on Saturday. They teased the crowd with satirical, short versions of “Smooth” by Santana (featuring Rob Thomas), Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” and Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” before actually covering The Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” as the set neared to a close. All of it was great and humorous, and their original material was fantastic, as well. – Rusty Odom
The EDM/hip-hop themed Ocean Stage has been a highlight of Forecastle, featuring some of the most insane – and youngest – crowds seen at any festival. Vince Staples has been exploding recently, and Forecastle was a coming-out party featuring one of the largest crowds ever seen on the Ocean. Many of the hip-hop acts appearing here have been burdened with an excessive number of hype men and overlong introductions, but Staples was the cure for all that with a refreshingly minimalist set stuffed with banger after banger. With no fanfare, Staples appeared alone in front of an orange screen and immediately went to work. Seemingly on a mission to stare every single audience member directly in the eyes, Staples roamed from side to side delivering hits from “Big Fish” to “Rain Come Down” to the Gorillaz track “Ascension.” – BF
A palpable excitement could be felt among festivalgoers as darkness grew around Waterfront Park, and it clearly was borne out of anticipation for these beloved electro rockers. And luckily for everyone, the actual spectacle lived up to the hype. Taking to the Mast Stage promptly at 9:30, the band blazed through 15 songs in just over two hours. The setlist didn’t deviate much from those played at the last couple of festivals, but its quality was unimpeachable. Culling from its full discography, it featured favorites like “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” “I Can Change,” Someone Great,” “Dance Yrself Clean” and – of course – “All My Friends.” The two tracks released from the upcoming record sounded great in a live context, but the real kicker (and what helps to distinguish this performance from all previous festival appearances) was the inclusion of an encore. For this, the slow burn of “Yeah” was chosen to send the rapturous crowd out into the night. – MR