I have made it home, I’m sitting comfortably on my own couch, I have showered, done my festival laundry—which reeked of sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat—and I have let the weekend sink in. Now, I am ready to tell you about my weekend at Forecastle 2019.
Every July, Louisville becomes my home for three days during Forecastle Music Festival. A festival that has become a tradition, something we look forward to every year. Acts like The Killers, Anderson Paak, The Avett Brothers, Maggie Rogers, Tyler Childers, Chromeo, and more took the stage to give us an unforgettable weekend.
What They Did Right
Forecastle, year-over-year is one of my favorite festivals. As someone who has thrown events, I recognize how much planning goes into making it great. The stages are a perfect distance apart, there is an appropriate number of water stations and bathrooms, wide walkways, stuff most people don’t think about, but make a huge difference.
They also stepped up their sustainability game this year with compostable cups, canned water, and paper straws. Forecastle has always had a strong environmental focus – including The Forecastle Foundation that has donated over $550,000 to conservation projects in the last eight years.
The lineup is always great at Forecastle, and this year was no exception. Portugal The Man, Jungle, Tyler Childers, Nelly, CHVRCHES, Hop Along, Andrew Bird, Mt. Joy, just to name a few. While we saw dozens of incredible acts this weekend, my top three were The Killers, Anderson Paak, and Chromeo.
Out of every band on the lineup this year, I was most excited about The Killers. Mostly because I’ve never seen them live. I am lucky enough to say that most of my favorite bands, I’ve seen. But somehow I had never seen The Killers, a band I probably know more lyrics to than any other. I don’t think I danced as hard or screamed lyrics as loud all weekend than I did to The Killers.
Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals were everything I love in a band. A little funk, a little glam, a lot of showmanship. Their stage design was almost as good as their set. One of the best moments of the weekend was the touching Mac Miller tribute they did. For their very last song, they play “Dang It!”, a Mac Miller song featuring Anderson Paak. Photos of Mac filled the screens, and you could hear the emotion in Paak’s voice. Their entire set was heartfelt and energetic, and I haven’t stopped listening to them since.
We had the pleasure of seeing Chromeo TWICE this weekend. Once for his set on Friday night, which they absolutely destroyed. I don’t know if I’ve EVER seen that much energy in a crowd for a non-headlining band. We also bought tickets for the late-night boat show which Chromeo was DJ-ing. Although we were bummed when we found out the boat was never leaving the dock, it was still an unforgettable experience and a story I love to tell. I mean, we saw Chromeo DJ a set on a 100+ year old riverboat on the Ohio river. Who else can say that?
They also really stepped it up with Port Stage talent this year. Julia Jacklin, Israel Nash, and Carly Johnson all blew us away.
What Was Different
The footprint was a little different this year. Most of it made a lot of sense, like shifting the Bourbon Lodge 90° to create a bigger walkway.
But they did move my beloved dunking station. See, at Forecastle, you can buy a $5 buff that you can dunk in ice water all weekend to keep cool. The dunking station USED to be right off the main stage, and they moved it to an area right off the smallest stage of the festival. Which meant it was further out of the way and harder to just swing by.
I was also bummed by the elimination of the Lizard Lounge. Last year, Bourbon Lodge members had access to a few bars around the grounds, including a little speak-easy type bar called “The Lizard Lounge,” or as we called it “The Ice Box,” a small little bar hidden behind the Gonzo Lounge, only noticeable by the plastic lizard outside the door. This was one of our favorite spots last year because it was FREEZING inside, relatively private, and they had cocktails with candy in them! We searched and searched, but no Lizard Lounge this year.
The Party Cove was overrun with teenagers who think they’re at Coachella. That’s not necessarily a critique, The Party Cove has never really been my thing at the first place, and if a DJ and a ferris wheel get kids to experience a music festival and give their money to Forecastle, then great! And that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a picture in front of the ferris wheel too, because of COURSE I did.
One MAJOR thing I noticed was the lack of puppets this year. This was my fourth Forecastle and I have grown to expect people dressed like fish on stilts, and puppets of Hunter S. Thompson and Colonel Sanders, obviously. While we saw the fish on stilts, we never saw the puppets. Disappointing.
Our weekend was unforgettable. We ate good food, saw good music, drank good bourbon, and left with stories we’ll probably tell for the rest of our lives. Every year we leave Forecastle, we are already planning our trip for next year. Although I would like to start an informal petition to return the Lizard Lounge, this festival just gets better every year. I’ll see you next July, Louisville.