By BRADEN LAMMERS
Thousands of people, four stages, three days of music and one foundation.
The Forecastle arts, music and activism festival is back for its 11th incarnation, starting Friday, July 12 and running through Sunday, July 14.
Since its inception in 2002, the festival has seen steady growth moving from Tyler Park in Louisville to the city’s 85-acre Waterfront Park. Crowds have continued to grow each year, marked by the festival’s 10th anniversary show last year -- and its first partnering with AC Entertainment -- which drew about 35,000 people to the three-day event.
And this year’s festival organizers are expecting crowds to double, hosting between 70,000 and 75,000 people during the three-day weekend.
Forecastle Festival Spokesperson Holly Weyler said the lineup selected for the event has a broader appeal to attract a wide variety of concertgoers and bands were selected that weren’t necessarily playing the summer festival circuit.
“We have an incredible lineup this year,” she said.
Among the featured acts for the festival are The Black Keys, Robert Plant presents The Sensational Space Shifters and The String Cheese Incident.
“As the landscape of music festivals keeps growing, what we’ve found over the years is the [festivals] that have staying power are the ones that differentiate themselves,” Weyler said. “We try to curate an interesting experience that you’re not going to get at every festival.”
She explained that the festival has been able to maintain its grassroots feel, even with its growth during the last decade from a few hundred people at Tyler Park into a festival that welcomes thousands to the region.
“This is not your normal festival ... I think people see Forecastle as genuine,” Weyler said.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Local bands and homegrown acts have been a feature of previous Forecastle Festivals, even after the event had grown to attract national acts. This year’s event is no different.
“We’ve always wanted to make sure, even as the festival grows, that we have an opportunity to have local bands featured,” Weyler said. “We try to make sure those local acts are represented well.”
Among the local bands playing during the festival are Southern Indiana-based Houndmouth, who will play the main, or Mast Stage, Friday night, as well as Louisville’s The Pass, who will play the WFPK Port Stage on Friday night.
There are four total stages for this year’s event, along with the two previously mentioned acts, who will take to the Boom Stage, located on the west side of Waterfront Park and the Red Bull Music Academy Ocean Stage, located on the east side of the venue.
Other acts with ties to the region include the 23 String Band playing the Port Stage Saturday afternoon, Freakwater playing the Port Stage Saturday night, AMTRAC playing the Ocean Stage Saturday afternoon and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James will be playing as a solo artist on the Mast Stage Saturday night.
And local act, A Lion Named Roar will be playing the Port Stage Sunday.
Another feature that was in place for the 10th anniversary Forecastle Festival and has been brought back this year, but this time is much bigger, is the Bourbon Lodge.
“It’s a whole bourbon program,” Weyler said. “It’s got a big educational component and is a lot of fun as well.”
She said the lodge was brought back and expanded from a 30 foot by 30 foot space to more than triple in size because of a goal to highlight the region to out-of-towners.
“What we saw was a great opportunity to share this great bourbon culture we have here,” Weyler said.
Of the 70,000-75,000 festival attendees expected to go to the festival over the course of the weekend, it is estimated 55-60 percent are from out-of-town, Weyler said.
As a result of the expansion, the three bourbon brands represented last year have grown to 11, offering 30 different varieties of bourbon.
A pop-up restaurant from Jim ‘N Nick’s and Chef Edward Lee of Milkwood called Smoked is also tied to the Bourbon Lodge. It will feature pulled pork from Jim ‘N Nick’s and collard greens, ginger cole slaw and WTF potato salad from Lee.
“It’s so unique to what the festival is all about,” Weyler said.
While the focus of the Forecastle Festival tends to be on the musicians descending on the region during the weekend, at its core is the Forecastle Foundation.
The nonprofit is designed to educate and protect the global environmental, show how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint and work to preserve the world’s most threatened biodiversity hot spots.
Hot Spots are the richest areas of life on the planet, cover only 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface, but account for more than 50 percent of all plant and animal species, according to the Forecastle Foundation’s website.
Weyler said the foundation is currently working on two projects in hotspots: one in Kentucky, in a natural land trust on Pine Mountain; and another in a South American rainforest along the Atlantic coast, teaching sustainable farming practices.
The News and Tribune’s Editor Shea Van Hoy and Reporter Braden Lammers put together a list of bands that should not be missed at the Forecastle Festival:
Friday, July 12:
• The Pass — 5:30-6:15 p.m. on the WFPK Port Stage: Louisville rock group The Pass has generated quite the interest around the city the past couple of years, and with good reason. Why I don’t think the energy of their live shows totally translated to their second album, “Melt” — released late last year — the band is a lot of fun to see in person. To call the band simply dance rock would be wrong, because that term seems to dismiss the rocking part, something the band does well. Still, expect a lot of bodies shaking at the band’s set.
— Shea’s pick
• Houndmouth — 6:30-7:30 p.m. on the Mast Stage: The Southern Indiana band is on a meteoric ascent having just released its debut album “From the Hills Below the City.” Going from small venues to playing major festivals and late-night talk shows, the group’s blend of folk-influenced indie-rock is accessible to a wide audience. And the band’s on-stage presence is infectious — they have as much fun as the crowd. Jump on the bandwagon now, so you can say you knew them back when. Houndmouth is also playing a separately ticketed show on the Belle of Louisville on Saturday, July 13 with special guests Night Beds, The Wheeler Brothers and more.
— Braden’s pick
Saturday, July 13:
• Alabama Shakes— 6-7:15 p.m. on the Mast Stage: Aptly named Alabama quartet, Alabama Shakes created an enormous amount of buzz off its debut 2012 album and big voice of vocalist Brittany Howard. This band should play right down the middle of the Forecastle crowd -- they’re a great mix of rock, soul and blues. So expect the hippies and hipsters to show up in equal force.
— Shea’s pick
• The Joy Formidable— 6:45-8 p.m. on the Boom Stage: The Welsh rockers will hit Forecastle to deliver something the festival has lacked a bit in the past couple of years -- a noisy rock band. The power trio is touring in support of 2013’s “Wolf’s Law” and expect the band to unleash a welcomed wall of noise on the Louisville crowd.
— Shea’s pick
• The Black Keys— 10 p.m.-midnight on the Mast Stage: Yes, they’re the headliners. Yes, there is a reason they are Saturday’s featured act. The Akron-based duo is a blues rock band, pure and simple. The music is straightforward and their performance is rocking. What is most impressive is that much, and that depth of sound, can come from a drum set and a guitar. Having seen The Black Keys multiple times, they are an act not to be missed.
— Braden’s pick
Sunday, July 14:
• Tennis — 2:45-3:45 p.m. on the Boom Stage: This is my underground pick of the weekend, although I’ve never seen Tennis play live. On the band’s two albums, however, Tennis makes music that simply makes you feel good. It sounds like the beach and summer, fitting right in with Forecastle’s nautical theme. Both albums from the husband-and-wife-led band --“Cape Dory” and “Young & Old” -- are great listens. Get there early on Sunday for some great pop songs.
— Shea’s pick
• Grace Potter & the Nocturnals — 5-6:15 p.m. on the Mast Stage: I have an album or two from Grace Potter and her band, but never really listen to them. The music just isn’t for me. Her live show is a different story however — the energy and camaraderie Potter and her band brings to the stage is hard to top. It’s a compliment to say that the band’s live show is one most any music fan can enjoy, even if they showed up knowing nothing about their songs.
— Shea’s pick
• The Forecastle Incident — 5:45-7 p.m. on the Boom Stage: This performance is guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind because it will be a one-time performance for the Forecastle Festival. The String Cheese Incident — playing Friday night on the Mast Stage and a separately ticketed show at the Louisville Palace Saturday — will return to the Forecastle Boom Stage Sunday. The show will feature some interesting collaborations and some surprise acts — as I have been assured by festival organizers. If you want to experience the uniqueness of Louisville’s premiere outdoor music festival, this is the performance that should encapsulate it.
— Braden’s pick
So you know:
A limited number of weekend passes and day passes are still available for purchase.
For tickets, a concert calendar, venue map and more information visit forecastlefest.com