Forecastle Festival opened its Waterfront Park gates Friday at lunchtime for the first of three days of music, bourbon, beer, very large puppets and fashions strange and beautiful. Here are some highlights from Friday:
If you missed punk veterans Against Me! because you were still trying to get out of the office and down to Waterfront Park, you might regret it for years. This is a band with something to say, and when WFPK’s Sean Cannon sat down before the set with lead singer Laura Jane Grace to talk about their latest album, the acclaimed “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” and her own experiences over the last two years since she came out as transgender, Grace offered this simple and poignant observation: “I mean, sure, it’s a transition, but everything is. Life is a transition every day. It’s that way for everyone.” Truth.
Later in the afternoon, a light drizzle fell on the crowd spilling out from under the overpass for St. Lucia’s day-brightening set, their tropical-colored shirts scattered across the stage like a candy necklace come undone. If you stood in the right place, you could hear their lush melodies in one ear and Gary Clark Jr.’s guitar-blistering set in the other — the sonic dichotomy of Forecastle on full display.
Local Natives packed the Boom Stage for a spirited set, but this is Louisville, so even the hookiest harmonies couldn’t get the crowd dancing. Don’t take it personally, guys — that’s just how this city is sometimes. Memorable moment: they covered “Warning Signs” by Talking Heads. Like St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler, Taylor Rice indulged in some light banter about the rain, which really wasn’t that bad. Last May in Memphis I watched Patti Smith take down the patriarchy in a shivering cold Mississippi River mudslide monsoon, so c’mon. A little light rain is nothing.
Many of Spoon’s nuanced charms can be lost on a large crowd listening to a set whose sound varied wildly depending on where in the Boom Stage throng you stood. But the 20-plus-years power-pop veterans showed that their hiatus, brought to an end with the upcoming release of ”They Want My Soul,” didn’t slow them down. Sidebar: if you visit the Bourbon Lodge, you might wander across the Four Roses Single Barrel (As Chosen by Spoon) bourbon.
If a band could be a bourbon, I think Spoon would actually be a pour of Four Roses Single Barrel. Sweet enough to swallow neat but tempered with complex fruit and caramel notes, this bourbon finishes with fireworks, like a sprinkle of ground pepper on an ice cream sundae.
The rain picked back up a bit for headliners OutKast but remained non-threatening throughout their high-energy set, which opened with ”Bombs Over Baghdad” and didn’t let up. André 3000, who took the stage in a platinum ‘do, a jumpsuit emblazoned with “OBVIOUSLY OBLIVIOUS” and a giant “SALE” tag dangling, might be hip-hop’s David Bowie.
Big Boi spit double-time in an old-school Mixalot-worthy gold chain, and they were accompanied by a furious horn section and the Neutron Angels, back-up singers sporting black masks and giant padded shoulders wings — one even boasted a set of black feathered wings. All of Louisville’s reserved, head-nodding energy exploded for “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!” (accompanied by dancing young ladies who have perhaps never seen a polaroid picture in the wild) and the show-stopping “The Way You Move.”
Have you ever wished you could see André 3000 do push-ups on stage? You do now. We’re home, we’re sleeping in, we’re ready to do it all again today.
We’ll have picks for Forecastle performers to catch on Saturday later today. Tomorrow, we’ll have a review and more photos of Saturday’s performances.