Forecastle Music & Arts Festival: Sunday Review

Sunday, Day 3

All Photos by Bill Foster

X Ambassadors

Friday, Day 1

Saturday, Day 2

Sunday, Day 3

Every year, there’s a moment when a truck catches my eye as it passes by overhead on the interstate system whose tentacles surround Louisville’s Waterfront Park, where Forecastle is held each July.  People attend music festivals to escape from reality, but that doesn’t mean the world stops spinning.  This image of commerce is a good reminder to enjoy time spent in such a lax environment with little regard to the outside world, but it also provides an impetus to inject the joy with which you’re left after a few days of live music into the real world when you get back to it. As always, Forecastle put the wind behind our sails, and here are a few reasons why.

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Aaron Lee Tasjan has deep roots in both punk and Americana as a former guitarist for the New York Dolls and Drivin’ N’ Cryin,’ and his diverse background shone though at Forecastle where his short set ran the gamut from acoustic Americana to scorching, punky, riff-driven songs. Dressed in a blue watch cap and matching blue mirrored sunglasses, Tasjan led his band though a taut set of songs from his two major-label albums, highlighted by the loose but tight interplay between Tasjan and second guitar player Bryan Wright. Set highlights were “E.T.S.A.A.T.,” “Dime,” “Little Movies” and especially set-closer “The Dangerous Kind,” which was punctuated by a 10-minute jam between Wright and Tasjan that sounded like a perfect mix of Television and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Tasjan closed the show with a leap off his amplifier that suggested an athletic career might not have been out of the question at one time. Fortunately for everyone at Forecastle, though, Tasjan made the right choice. – Bill Foster

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

After canceling shows to undergo a battle with stomach cancer, the screaming eagle of soul is back and better than ever. Charles Bradley continued his return to health/form on Sunday in one of the more gripping and emotional performances of the festival. At age 68, his voice remains impressively powerful, and he hasn’t lost a step in his dance moves, either. Bradley’s performances are extremely personal, especially his cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes,” during which he emotionally told a story about his mother. He sincerely loves his fans and performing for them, even handing our roses and hugs as the band played out. There is no sign of Bradley slowing down anytime soon, and we expect to see the ex-James Brown impersonator gracing festival stages for years to come. – Matt Miller

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

Foxygen

By turns reflecting psychedelic, blues, glam and classic rock influences, the duo of Sam French and Jonathan Rado welcomed a host of musicians – seven in addition to the two main players – to the Boom Stage for a spirited performance on Sunday afternoon. The environs were a familiar haven for the band, who played the same stage four years ago. That show saw French flail around the stage unpredictably in homage to his rock ‘n’ roll forebearers; his restraint this time around, though, suggested definite maturation and was indicative of a more cooperative attitude in general. The band’s new songs couldn’t have been pulled off without such coordination, and the brass addition was impactful. – Matt Rankin

Foxygen

LANY

LANY is a four-piece from Los Angeles, California, who quickly have been making waves. Led by Paul Klein’s smooth vocals and silky R & B playing, the trio play sunny, synthetic pop. At least I think so because, honestly, they were difficult to hear over one of the most passionate audiences I have ever seen: a virtual army of hundreds of teenage women who knew every single word to every single song. I have no doubt that any band who can inspire such a passionate following is soon heading for even bigger stages. – BF

LANY

Conor Oberst

With the Felice Brothers as the choice for his backing band, Oberst secured assistance from a group that shares his heartland tendencies/sentimentalities. The chemistry among the players was evident from the get-go; such tight synergy elevated material from the singer-songwriter’s more acoustic-leaning fare to a higher echelon. For instance, the two tracks in the setlist that were culled from the seminal 2005 release “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” were imbued with earnestness due to the homespun instrumentation. Elsewhere, Oberst’s solo material shone brightly, the barroom swing of “Too Late to Fixate,” in particular, arresting attentions early on. – MR

Conor Oberst & The Felice Brothers

STRFKR

If you look at the tab on the STRFKR website indicating upcoming shows, you won’t find any dates. That’s because Forecastle marked the final performance of the band’s 2017 summer tour. Indie synth meets guitar rock with Joshua Hodges’ brainchild, as do Shawn Glassford, Keil Corcoran and a circus of dancers dressed in spacesuits and helmets.  The trio of musicians who worked on “Being No One, Going Nowhere,” the band’s latest album, did so on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour outside of LA, where the band calls home. Along with the following set from Tycho, STRFKR’s Forecastle set provided a bit of instrumental balance for the Ocean Stage, which had seen myriad hip-hop and electronic acts throughout the weekend, which was a welcome sight for the post-graduates in the crowd. – Rusty Odom

STRFKR

X Ambassadors

Indie-rock quartet X Ambassadors obviously lean to the commercial side of said spectrum. They seem to have their sights firmly set on Maroon 5’s spot in the pop firmament. In spite of that, their songs are so damned catchy and frontman Sam Harris works so hard to win everyone over that it is impossible to dislike them. Opening with “Jungle” and closing with the ubiquitous “Renegade,” the band worked every single second, from when Harris walked his blind brother Casey Harris to his keyboards until the final chord was played. – BF

X Ambassadors

PJ Harvey

At sundown, Harvey nonchalantly emerged onto the Mast Stage at the same time as her nine bandmates, catching many by surprise. In front of a gorgeous backdrop, the ensemble initially launched into a robust selection of tracks from the artist’s two most recent offerings, “The Hope Six Demolition Project” and “Let England Shake.” Despite their somber content, these live renderings were surprisingly ebullient. Equally affecting, though, were the two selections from “White Chalk.” The title track, especially, drew the main-stage audience to a reverent hush (a rare feat considering the number of attendees) and was positively haunting. And it would have served as the best-in-show had it not been for the grandeur of a horn-embellished “To Bring You My Love,” the extended denouement of which sounded simultaneously luxurious and dangerous. In spite of a few slight discrepancies, the BLANK crew voted this as the consensus number-one set of the weekend. – MR

PJ Harvey

Spoon

We never miss Spoon at a festival, and it’s for a good reason: The band absolutely commands every stage they play, and the Boom on Sunday was no exception. New hits such as “Hot Thoughts” fit perfectly into their set, which spanned the history of the beloved indie-rock group. Crowd favorites “The Underdog” and “I Turn My Camera On” had everyone singing and dancing along. Spoon seems only to be getting better and more refined as they age, a real feat for a band that has remained relevant as long as they have. – MM

Spoon

Rayland Baxter

Continuing the awesome trend of the Port Stage hosting surprisingly great shows in the 2017 edition of Forecastle was Nashville-based artist Baxter, who seamlessly alternated between psychedelic freakouts and country-tinged confessionals. It was a fine way to wind down the proceedings at what proved to be one of my favorite places to be on this weekend. -MR

Rayland Baxter

Weezer

Weezer brought together fans of all ages to their headlining performance at the main stage on Sunday night. The band ran through a set that spanned their entire career, storming through hits from every album with near perfection. Rivers Cuomo hasn’t changed a bit in spite of his accumulated years, on this occasion taking breaks in between songs to crack cheesy jokes with the audience. Less than halfway through the set, the band surprised everyone with a Weezer-esque cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” with Cuomo casually speaking some of the lyrics and chuckling afterwards. Classics such as “Say it Ain’t So” and “El Scorcho” have aged as gracefully as Cuomo, and they easily convinced the entire crowd to sing in unison, as loudly as possible. However, later-career hits such as “King of the World” and “Thank God for Girls” stood strongly alongside those that made Weezer as popular as they are today The band once again proved why their quirky brand of rock ‘n’ roll has survived the test of time, and they provided a perfect ending to another terrific Forecastle experience. – MM

Weezer
Weezer
Foxygen
PJ Harvey
X Ambassadors
STRFKR
X Ambassadors
LANY

 

Friday, Day 1

Saturday, Day 2

Sunday, Day 3

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