Louisville’s Forecastle Festival: Music, Fun, and Bourbon
written by Jennifer Dawn Fall
Photos from Forecastle Festival Facebook
Forecastle Festival Quick Facts:
Capacity: Large (60,000-70,000), but never crowded. We relaxed on blankets and towels without ever feeling like we were being run over by people moving from set to set.
Crowd type: To experience Forecastle’s crowd is to truly experience southern hospitality; everyone is nice to each other and looks out for each other, making this a great festival for families
Music genre: A mixture of rock, indie, and electronic
How To Get There
Forecastle is held at the Waterfront Park in Louisville, KY. Most attendees travel from the Midwest, and drive to enjoy the long weekend. Otherwise, flights can range from $300 to $500 depending on which airline you prefer. Parking is plentiful; attendees can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $20 per day near the festival grounds. Leaving your car in a hotel garage will cost $35 to $50 for the entire weekend.
Where To Stay
There are so many hotels in downtown Louisville to accommodate attendees. We chose to spoil ourselves and booked a room at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville, though friends who stayed at Best Western were equally satisfied with their experience.
Fourth Street Live is a wonderful district near downtown with bars, restaurants, and live music on weekends. I would equate this area to a very small version of main-street in Nashville, TN.
Usual festival vendors serve hamburgers, hotdogs, Chinese, Italian, and Greek. Several food truck options changed daily, but the most impressive were tacos and seafood.
On the last day, I had the best lobster roll of my life from a truck called Longshot Lobsta (including the lobster roll I had in Vegas at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant). It was $15, and after just one I seriously considered investing in another.
Forecastle also has their famous Bourbon Lodge that I highly recommend. For $10 you can sample many types of Bourbons in an air conditioned environment; a nice respite from the summer heat.
Forecastle has four stages and is easy to navigate. Three stages are set along the waterfront, and the electronic stage is housed underneath the bridge with a smaller set up than the others, but surrounded by LED lights for a glowing effect even during the day.
A concert-like air is lent to the stages, perhaps due to minimal light effects, etc. Sound quality is great (no bleeding) and large areas for viewing and dancing make it easy to maneuver.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Big Gigantic: I had seen Big Gigantic in New Orleans at Voodoo Fest years ago, and attended Forecastle for the sole purpose of seeing them again. Their intoxicating blend of jazz, funk, and house with a splash of dubstep is always a crowd pleaser. This was the most memorable set of the weekend for our group; everyone danced their butts off to their heart’s content, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Death Cab For Cutie: I had never heard this band live, and they did not disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised to find that that their set included a mix old favorites with new album material. Kintsugi is out now, and deserves a listen to anyone who has an affinity for indie rock, or who loved their album Bend to Squares. They have certainly grown as musicians while holding on to the sound that first helped them rise to popularity.
Robert Delong (afterparty on the Belle of Louisville): Robert Delong is not just a musician; he is an experience…the musicality he shows on drums is something that can’t be explained through words. His high-energy music combines the best of pop, electronic, and house, and that energy resonates throughout the crowd. His most devoted followers are known for running through the audience with face paint, a ritual I was happy to participate in. If you haven’t, check out his singles “Don’t Wait Up” and “Long Way Down.” You will become a believer.
Things To Do
-get familiar with Kentucky’s screen-printing scene, with festival screen prints all made by local artists (the skull Colonel Sanders is always a crowd pleaser)
-peruse James Flames’ incredible artwork including posters, stickers, and a coloring book I just couldn’t resist
-hit up the Forecastle Fairies for beautiful festival crowns and jewelry
-sample bourbon in the aforementioned Bourbon Lodge
Why Go VIP
Regular tickets run from $130 to $200 for the weekend, so at $400 (the cost of a GA ticket at many other festivals) VIP is worth it if you like the perks of having AC at a summer festival. VIP tickets also include Forecastle themed merchandise, entry to the Bourbon Lodge, viewing areas, and special entry lines (but, lines are not long for GA admission unless you arrive quite late).
What Makes The Festival Different?
The southern charm that characterizes this festival is my #1 reason to attend. Beyond that, the major impression I came away with from my first time at Forecastle was how clean the festival is—not only the grounds, but the actions of the attendees as well. Porta-potties were shockingly clean, and there are trash cans at every turn that people actually use.