Day two of Forecastle Music Fest in Louisville, KY started the same way day one did: hot. That didn’t stop me from getting there as early as I could to start capturing the fantastic musicians they had scheduled. Lucy Dacus kicked it off with her sweet voice and low-key performance. That’s not saying she didn’t bring it, she just helped all of us deal with that first fest day hangover (from exhaustion of course) and serenaded a smile onto our faces. While newer to the scene than some of the other musicians on Saturday’s bill, she still drew a decent sized crowd. Looking forward to seeing her more around town.
JD McPherson pulled out a decent cluster of people from the crowd huddled under the overpass hiding in the shade. His early set made it tough, but he is a sight to behold. Smiling through the performance, he’s got that infectious type of excitement that you could feel running through you after even one song. It’s that early-era rock and roll that gets us moving our feet every time.
Next up was the Portland-based band AGESANDAGES. They’ve been winning the hearts of the Pacific Northwest for some time now, but apparently, they aren’t the only ones. The Americana sound is a welcome one at this festival with smaller pockets of folks enjoying a dance step here and there despite the overwhelming heat. I asked a small fan (age 5 or 6) hanging off the barricade if he was keeping cool and he simply said “No” with a frown, but it didn’t stop him from watching them perform.
The hometown boy, Sturgill Simpson from Versailles, KY, gathered quite the crowd on the main stage field. You see, throughout the weekend most music fans were happy just sitting in the shade of the underpass at the back listening to the main stage acts from afar. Forecastle did an incredible job of setting up all the stages so you didn’t have to be right on top of the music to enjoy it, I’m guessing exactly for this reason. Though, Sturgill had the audience wrapped around his little finger so they made their way up to the front to dance move along with the music. Throwing guitar solos with the ease of a frisbee, his performance was littered with applause. Just watching his fingers move across the strings had fans mesmerized and yelling for more.
Meanwhile I made my way over to the Port stage, set off farther than the other three, to see what I would consider the polar opposite of Simpson: Beach Slang. With a sweet demeanor, frontman James Alex stepped on stage and bashfully smiled at the audience through a huge mop of curly hair. Donning a 70’s style blue velvet-like suit complete with ruffled shirt (imagine what your dad wore to prom and you’re on the right track). A moment later he threw his hand down to play the first note, that sweet face steeled itself, and off he went into punk madness. With wild abandon, he threw himself across the stage spouting lyrics and getting lost in his own music. I was captivated and loving every minute of it. It’s the first time I saw them perform live but it won’t be my last.
It was obvious the weather was keeping some folks inside until the later hours; as the day wore on people started pouring through the entrances. A lot of the fest-goers were still inclined to hide in the shady spots which is why some of the largest crowds seemed to be at the Ocean stage (ironically the one set farthest from the water of the Ohio River) hidden under the highway and most often where you’d find the electronic and hip hop artists. This time it was Vince Staples that drew the crowd and the young faces up front were ready to dance, sing, scream and be entertained by the energetic young rapper. Having seen Staples perform at Outside Lands in San Francisco last year, I was ready for his typically enigmatic style that moved him from one side of the stage to the other with a dizzying swiftness, but this time he was a bit more subdued. Again, the performance may have been calmed a tad by the heat, or maybe it was the smaller stage, but it felt like he was connecting with the audience more. Eye contact was plentiful and the lyrics flowed like rain onto his fans. I had a great time watching this rising star perform at a smaller festival because it probably won’t happen many more times.
The last performance, but certainly not least, of the night was LCD Soundsystem. These guys are a big part of the reason I made the trek out from Seattle to cover a sweaty, dusty, smaller (but nevertheless, incredibly fun) festival on the other side of the country. The sun had gone down, the glow sticks and light-up hula hoops had come out and the dancing was plentiful. While the main stage field might have been smaller than the one I had seen them perform in front of last year at Outside Lands, the crowd felt just as big. I never expected LCD’s comeback to be weakly celebrated. I personally had been anticipating their return when even the whisper of a possibility had been uttered, but maybe they frustrated their oldest fans by making a big deal of retirement, just to come back a mere 5 years later. Either way, Kentucky was happy to see them nearly filling the field with dancing feet, flowing arms and smiling faces. While the lighting was something to be desired (they were bathed in blue or red light the whole time making it difficult to see the band if you weren’t perched at the front), their music floated out into the night air like so much dandelion fluff, begging the entire city of Louisville to join the party.
Be sure to check out the entire set of photos from day two over on KEXP's flickr!
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