The big headliner is The Black Keys. This power duo from Akron, Ohio has been touring for over a decade straight and hit superstardom with their last three discs.
“El Camino,” which was released in 2011, won three Grammy Awards this year, and has reached platinum status in sales. Dan Auerbach on guitar and Patrick Carney on drums are such a good time live. Expect them to bring a few friends along this time to fill out their sound.
They last played Louisville in 2009, at Forecastle, but had yet to hit headlining status.
The schedule for which acts play on which days and exact times isn’t out yet, but expect The Black Keys to be the Saturday night headliner.
The other top-line performers are the Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident and the Avett Brothers.
The Flaming Lips are well accustomed to throwing big parties, and will have confetti blowing, video vaginas and people in animal costumes. This psychedelic outfit from Oklahoma City is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. You will be surprised how many songs you recognize them play, but didn’t know it was the Flaming Lips.
I’m split on these last two. The Avett Brothers, from Concord, NC, bring some punk attitude to otherwise bluegrass/Americana music. It takes on a vibrant energy in their hands, and is full of emotion. But there are times it will slow down and folk out.
The String Cheese Incident, from Telluride, Colo., is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, and combines elements of bluegrass, with rock, electronica, calypso and funk. They are card-carrying members of the Grateful Dead clan – this will get jammy and trippy. There is sure to be a hippy contingent around this set, but the patchouli probably smells a bit fresher these days.
The String Cheese Incident also will play a late-night show at the Louisville Palace on July 13 that will be part of the festival, but is ticketed separately. If you are looking for tricks and treats, this will be a good spot to find some.
The String Cheese Incident returns Sunday to the fest under the name The Forecastle Incident, which is billed as a one-of-a-kind performance and promises special guests.
Actually the band I’m most interested in checking out is the Alabama Shakes, from Athens, Ala. They come into this summer with a ton of positive buzz and several Grammy nominations for best new artist and such.
Guitarist and singer, Brittany Howard, has a deep, soulful voice, which brings a sense of gospel to her band’s gritty, rhythm and blues rock sound.
Jim James is also on the lineup, from Louisville’s own My Morning Jacket. His new solo disc is earning well-deserved critical accolades. He is touring in smaller theaters mostly, where I expect he plays a quieter show, but for this hometown stop I expect the volume level to rise and for some special guests to drop by and add a few surprises.
Other notable acts include Animal Collective, who are psychedelic explorers; Old Crow Medicine Show will combine their bluegrass picking with some rock-n-roll ferocity; Grace Potter and the Nocturnals can seriously throw down, and she is H-O-T; Purity Ring has the XX-sound, and will be strange; and I highly recommend Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – they are a rhythm and blues explosion.
Forecastle is the brainchild of JK McKnight, who started this little experiment in 2002, with 75 people in attendance. Now Forecastle is all grown up, drawing over 30,000 people.
Rolling Stone magazine selected Forecastle as one of the “Top 33 Coolest Festivals,” and Outside Magazine placed it in its “Top 15 Festivals in the Country.”
This isn’t on the scale of Coachella, Jazz Fest, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, or Austin City Limits, but it’s not trying to be either.
The exciting part about what Forecastle offers is Louisville and Lexington remain too conservative, even with two large public universities, to pull many of these types of alternative bands individually.
Kentucky is a black hole for alternative music. Most of these acts can be found playing just outside the Bluegrass state’s borders.
Sadly, this is Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift country.
Forecastle functions like a music collective. It packages these bands that otherwise wouldn’t play here and offers them together over three days at a fair price.
This brings a motivated alternative and indie crowd to Waterfront Park to take in Forecastle’s solid-slate of national-level talent. What is unique is this is a mid-sized venue, so audiences can cut loose and still remain engaged with the artists on the stage.
Tickets started at $100 at the beginning of the year, which is a great deal. Currently a general admission 3-day pass is running $165, and VIP-passes are $475.
It would have been sweet to grab some of those $100 passes earlier, but Forecastle remains a bargain for three days of fun, music and adventure right here in my backyard.