Roasting temperatures across the American south couldn’t keep nearly 60,000 people from gathering on the shores of the Ohio River for the fifteenth annual Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
This year, legendary artists such as PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, and Run the Jewels performed bucket list sets alongside the raw talent of budding geniuses like Sturgill Simpson and Vince Staples. The Forecastle 2017 lineup tapped a variety of fanbases, spanning decades of musical innovation. Weezer, Conner Oberst, Real Estate, and Spoon beckoned the Saddle Creek generation, while Waka Flocka Flame, Cage the Elephant, GRiZ, and ODESZA brought seas of underage thrill-seekers drenched in gallons of festival fashion glitter.
Local volunteers were peppered throughout the crowd as lifeguards, mermaids, beeristas, and puppeteers operating a giant, surreal Hunter S. Thompson. Forecastle’s nautical theme includes a beached deck boat nestled in the shade of the festival’s Party Cove. The vessel is topped by a rotating cast of DJs including Sam Sneed, Glittertitz, Night Visions Radio, Sleepy Tom, Getzy, and Gitsum. Festivillians lay out blankets in the shade or pack the center for one last rally before dispersing into Louisville’s downtown.
Each night of Forecastle ends with the tens of thousands gathering at the Mast Stage, where the sun sets between two bridges stretched across the river. On Friday, ODESZA closed with mind-numbing visuals while two members of the band played their expertly crafted, electronic post-rock in silhouette. LCD Soundsystem wrapped Saturday night with a different technique, delighting the crowd with modular synths and the subtle, analog complexities of high-brow pop. Weezer ended the festival with a bold setlist of new stuff despite playing to a crowd who is only interested in The Sweater Song. The numbers thinned when frontman, Rivers Cuomo, put on a Sombrero in the middle of the set. This gesture cost a former University of Louisville President his job. Overall, Weezer was a poor choice for a closing act and lifelong fans left disappointed.
After hours, the city comes to life with official Forecastle after parties and performances held throughout the historical venues in the city. This festival has something for everyone and is accommodating to guests with water stations, accessible restrooms, reasonably priced food, and access to all the conveniences of downtown Louisville. At the end of the day, Forecastle Festival supports the environmental conservation efforts of the Forecastle Foundation, and that's something festival lovers can get behind.