Forecastle Music Festival: Louisville’s Summertime Beach Party

Cover Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan

Every year, a festival sticks out to me and holds a special place in my heart, and this year that fest is Forecastle Music Festival! Forecastle has changed my opinion about city festivals and has quickly become one of my favorites. Its atmosphere sets it apart from other festivals. A unique blend of bluegrass southern hospitality and a laid back ocean vibe makes Forecastle stand out from any other festival I’ve attended. The people and ambience created here make Forecastle one of the best festivals of the summer!

Not Your Typical City Fest

I’m not going to lie, sometimes city fests are hard for me. They can be rough for a variety of reasons ranging from the venue size and set up to the crowds, lineups, and amenities available, among other things. Forecastle Festival has managed to curate a weekend that avoided all of these problems and left me wanting an additional three days. The first thing that I noticed about Forecastle is that the size and set up of Waterfront Park is perfect for this fest. There is plenty of area for the crowd to spread out and dance without feeling too packed in. Some sets did get pretty packed, but that’s something to be expected with a top notch lineup like this.

Crowd At Forecastle
Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan

Forecastle also offered a solid selection of food and drink vendors that were located in areas that don’t clash with other crowds. Some festival venues, especially in big cities, are limited in space and where they can place these vendors. This sometimes causes lines to form in the way of crowds viewing the show or trying to make their way to another stage. Forecastle was able to avoid this issue because of the size of Waterfront Park; placing most of their vendors in a central location under the highway, and the food trucks along the perimeter of the fest helped things flow more smoothly. The porta potties never really got dirty either which is always a great thing.

Forecastle’s unique character also makes it stand out from other music festivals. Despite being in a landlocked state, Forecastle brings an ocean vibe to the riverfront city. Art installations including chairs shaped like waves, a stage on a boat in the party cove, a viking ship fair ride, and people walking around in giant fish costumes were just some of the additions Forecastle has implemented over the years to add to the fun experience here. A focus on Kentucky products and vendors is also a great upside to this festival. An endless selection of Bourbon and a number of local vendors blended the spirit of the bluegrass with the laid back ocean vibe.

Live Art Auctioned Off For The Forecastle Foundation
Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan

Protecting The World’s Natural Awesome

Every year Forecastle does everything it can to give back and support organizations that help restore and protect the world we live in through the Forecastle Foundation. Through volunteer work, donations, and selling merchandise at the festival the foundation raised money to give back to these organizations. This year, the festival did some additional things to help protect the world’s natural awesome and lower the festival’s overall footprint. Forecastle provided plenty of different waste bins allowing the festival goers to easily separate landfill, compost, and recycling waste. The change I found amazing this year was the elimination of single use plastic bottles. All of the water and Gatorade sold at the festival came in aluminum cans, a much more efficient material to recycle. Forecastle also provided the opportunity for people to attend the festival through Clean Vibes. Through this program, festival goers work two shifts, lasting six hours each, picking up and sorting through waste to help raise awareness and lower the festivals overall footprint. This was also great because the festival grounds never felt nasty or looked trashy. Way to stay classy Forecastle!

Canned Water
Photo By Molly Lucas

The Main Event

The number one thing that draws these massive crowds to different festivals is always the lineup and this years’ Forecastle lineup is one of the best around. Every year Forecastle Music Festival brings a top notch lineup that offers a little bit of everything talent-wise so everyone can find something they enjoy. This year was no different, with each day bringing a new and exciting selection of music for you to choose from.

The Warm Up

Friday kicked the festival weekend off with a solid group of artists that got the festival goers on their feet and grooving. The Band CAMINO and Hop Along started the weekend off and it continued to pick up speed from there. Cold War Kids were a late addition to the lineup and were one of the favorites on Friday. The day really started to pick up speed when the funk lords Chromeo took over the Boom Stage and got the crowd singing and dancing along with them. Portugal. The Man was also one of my favorite performances on Friday – putting on a killer rock show with the perfect level of weird mixed in. This band from Alaska knows how to throw down and put on a full visual/musical performance, even in the humid Kentucky summer weather. They even brought out Louisville native Jack Harlow for a song! The Killers are no strangers to headlining music festivals. After a massive year, plus tour, they took over the headlining slot for Friday. Once again The Killers put on a great set busting out their classic songs, some epic lasers, and a huge fireworks display that left everyone excited and ready to get back for day two at Waterfront Park! 

Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan

The Party

Despite being the hottest day Kentucky has recorded all year, Saturday was where the party was and everyone from the festival goers to the musicians threw down all day and all night long. The day was stacked full of heavy hitters and was definitely my favorite day of music. CAAMP, the folk band from Ohio, started the day off playing their last festival set before the release of their latest studio album ‘By & By’. Rising star Chelsea Cutler continued her massive festival tour and stole the show on the Ocean Stage. She had one of the best performances under the highway all weekend. Big Wild, Nelly, and Midland continued the high energy performances throughout the day showing off Forecastle’s lineup diversity.

The best thing about Saturday were the final three performances on the main stage. Kicking off the trifecta was a stellar uplifting performance from Moon Taxi. This band has been climbing the festival lineups over the years and showed why they were deserving of the main stage! Maggie Rogers was next up on the main stage drawing one of the largest crowds of the weekend. During her set Maggie stopped to take the time to acknowledge how Forecastle had one of the best festival crowds she has experienced despite the extreme heat. This talented woman will be headlining festivals next year!

The final act of the day stole the show, and the weekend, with a high energy performance from start to finish. Anderson Paak. and his band, The Free Nationals, put on one of the best headlining sets I’ve seen at a festival. This set showcased his diversity as a musician and just what can go into a performance visually. His stage set up was top notch with a drum set that rose up and down for Paak. to play. The pyrotechnics, lights, and visuals projected on the stage were fantastic, and the way he danced and glided around the stage kept the crowd moving with him. He also threw in a touching tribute to the late Mac Miller to close out his set. If you have not yet seen Anderson Paak., I highly recommend you do! 

Maggie Rogers
Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan
Anderson Paak.
Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan

A Relaxing Finish

Sundays are always one of my favorite days at a music festival because of the typically relaxed vibes and laid back atmosphere. This Sunday was no exception. All around Waterfront Park you saw different groups laying around on tapestries enjoying what shade they could find and relaxing to some great live music. Dawes and Anderson East were a few of the early acts that I stumbled upon and really enjoyed. Local boy Tyler Childers and his band were one of the acts on Sunday that pulled a huge crowd and stole the show. Funk masters Lettuce and CHVRCHES closed out the Boom and Ocean Stages and got the party going one last time on Sunday before the final performance. Sunday’s headliner, The Avett Brothers, were the perfect band to end this festival weekend. Their set was full of feel good music that took the crowd on a beautiful roller coaster ride. All around were people dancing and smiling or cuddled up on a tapestry wishing the weekend wasn’t coming to an end. I know I didn’t want it to.

Mast Stage Crowd
Photo By Elizabeth Carrigan


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