Forecastle 2010: Rockin’ the River City

Column by Donald Mason

The summer is marked with great music festivals across the country. One of the notable ones is in our backyard, so to speak. The 9th Annual Forecastle Fest was held at Waterfront Park in Louisville this year, a first-time use of the locale.

With an estimated 30,000 in attendance, it has a more intimate feel than some of the larger summer festivals. This festival is perfect not only for the typical festivalgoer, but those who aren’t into camping or multiple-day events.

Forecastle can be broken up into individual days, which leads to being commuter friendly. You can also enjoy the full-scale festival, though it is in the city and camping isn’t the most ideal. Nonetheless, the festival is a blessing for the state to have. Like Bonnaroo, Forecastle is eco friendly, with free recycling games, various types of recycling receptacles scattered through the park and food vendors using compostable items for food service.

One thing about a music festival is the love and respect everyone shows to each other, unlike any other gathering in my experience.

One thing I noticed off the bat was the amount of Lexingtonians who were jamming on the river. WRFL had a table, the March Madness Marching Band was roaming around, and many friends I may have crossed paths with more than once. Even J. Gumbo’s of Lexington treated me to a few meals. I talked with some of the owners about being a festival food vendor.

“Forecastle is our first festival, which fell in our laps, being based in Louisville,” principle owner Charlie Farnsley said. “The Lexington store loses 50 to 60 percent of its customer base during the summer and festivals help soften the blow.

“It’s rewarding to see repeat customers. We had one guy come by seven times.”

Just like at any festival, you are always on the go to witness great music and spectacles. Working at the Coke Zero trailer, Alysha Harris, a 2010 UK grad in speech pathology pointed out that in addition to free Coke Zero from the tap, there was free wi-fi, Wii games, and an overhead deck area to view the main stage.

“This is the true VIP section and all you have to do is come in, no charge,” Harris said. “It’s a nice change of pace to come to Forecastle where there is such great music and people.”

Donald Mason is a UK employee working with the College of Communications and the Department of Geography. E-mail drm@kykernel.com.


Forecastle 2010, Photos by Donald Mason – Images by Kentucky Kernel

Highlight recap inside Forecastle Fest:

  • CAKE covered Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and hinted to a new album.
  • Foxy Shazam’s lead singer, Eric Sean Nally claimed to want to jump into the river after the set. I missed if he held true to his claim.
  • Quinn Erwin won the Battle of the Bands and the right to open the show up on the last day of the festival.
  • DEVO changed outfits four times and Mark Mothersbaugh said, “Good night, Lexington” to end the show, which puzzled most festival goers but didn’t seem to faze their good time. Natalie Lile and Steve Baron of the MMMB both claimed this to be their favorite show. “DEVO was great. Older bands like that can sometimes be lame in concert, just going through the motions. But they really put on a fun show and their new material was just as good as the older stuff.” Steve Baron – Owner of CD Central and sax player in MMMB.
  • Smashing Pumpkins were the last headline band added to the lineup. After Billy Corgan continuously absorbed waves of glow sticks, he broke down and said, “I didn’t know when I picked out this shirt that I would be the target of f****** glow sticks” before batting the glow sticks away with his guitar. He also mentioned that he asked what Kentucky makes, and was told baseball bats and bourbon. He was sure to add beautiful women to that list. Lauren Sexton from Louisville was more than excited: “The Smashing Pumpkins were worth the 22-year wait to see them. Awesome, awesome show!”
  • Spoon had a solid set, but you could sense the crowd growing hungry for The Flaming Lips. That didn’t stop them from doing their thing and warming the crowd for the last show of the weekend. A horn section straight out of Louisville, keeping the local flair rolling along, also aided them.
  • The three shows I wanted to see most, due to missing them at Bonnaroo were: The Flaming Lips, She and Him and Bassnectar. Bassnectar, or Lorin Ashton, is an electronic music artist who focuses on pounding you with bass beats that are organic. The light show that accompanies the music is perfectly balanced. It was a glow stick galore as Bass Heads unite for Bassnectar’s beats. Lorin Ashton says, “First time with the Kentucky Straight Bassbins. Perfect crowd, excellent event, I cannot wait for Round 2!”
  • She and Him started the set hot and heavy with virtually no breaks in between songs.  Zooey Deschanel thanked the “I Heart U Zooey” sign maker and commented on some sunglasses. Along with M. Ward, they kept telling the crowd how awesome they were and how much they enjoyed Louisville. They covered “Roll Over Beethoven” by Chuck Berry (M. Ward sang) and “I Put a Spell on You” Screamin Jay Hawkins (Zooey sang)
  • To cap the musical tour that Forecastle had conjured up, The Flaming Lips were called to tear the stage down. Without question, this was the show I had been waiting for. I missed the Bonnaroo show due to getting crowded out at the Which Stage and The Black Keys playing at the same time. Along with She and Him and Bassnectar, this was the final piece of my missing Bonnaroo trinity. Wayne Coyne did a stealthy guitar sound check to Yoshimi, forecasting the acoustic version to be played later in the show. Wayne came out in a bubble and “crowd bubbled” to start things off. Loads of confetti and smoke filled the air, even before they played a single song. Wayne even hopped on the back of a bear that came on stage. You just had a feeling that this show was magical from the beginning. Opened with the classic, “She Don’t Use Jelly” and played many songs from the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album as well as At War With The Mystics. There was an emotional turn in the show where Wayne connected with the crowd just before playing, “In The Morning of the Magicians” and continued through “Do You Realize?” and “All We Have Is Now” At the end of the show, I got to meet Kliph Scurlock, the lead drummer. He was gracious to take several photos with fans that hung around after the show as well as make a station ID for WRFL. It was an incredible end to the most mind-blowing show I have ever witnessed. Though each show carries something unique, this show felt even more rare. “The Flaming Lips create the most wonderful concert experience imaginable. It’s equal parts theatricality and top notch musicianship that meld with each other to create a weird, crazy, psychedelic freakout.” – Travis Walker, WRFL DJ. Wayne made mention that they would like to play Forecastle again. Maybe The Lips will bless us for the 10th installment of Forecastle in 2011. Stay tuned, my friends.

Donald’s top 5 shows witnessed:

1. The Flaming Lips
2. She and Him
3. Bassnectar
4. Foxy Shazam
5. Cake

Donald’s top 5 shows missed:

1. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
2. Widespread Panic
3. The New Deal
4. That One Guy
5. we were promised jetpacks