Forecastle Music Festival 2017 was marked by reunions both on and off stage. Whether it was one of the biggest musical acts in the world reuniting to top this year’s bill, or simply friends returning to Louisville for their annual pilgrimage for music, art, and activism; the festival has become an annual event for tens of thousands.

Forecastle’s Boom Stage overlooking the Ohio River in Louisville, KY.

Setting sail for it’s 15th year, Forecastle once again boasted an incredibly deep lineup that included a little bit of something from every major genre. From rock to hip-hop and a surprising amount of jazz, here are some of the best things the Dead Audio team experienced this year on The Waterfront.

LCD Soundsystem – Mast Stage, Saturday

“Look around you, you’re surrounded, it won’t get any better”

Headlining the Mast Stage on Saturday evening was recently-united disco-electro superstars LCD Soundsystem. After a three year hiatus the Brooklyn-based band got back together, quickly headlining dozens of the largest festivals around the world. With a handful of new singles and a back catalogue to cherry pick hit after hit, James Murphy and crew put on the best set of the weekend.  The excitement surrounding a reunion show of this magnitude shows that fans love a good comeback story. Somehow it makes the music a little more meaningful knowing you may have never gotten to see one of your favorite bands ever again.

James Murphy croons heartfelt, nostalgic lyrics to a crowd of dancing fans on the Mast Stage Friday night.

LCD Soundsystem’s stage was highlighted by a huge, illuminated disco ball that pierced light onto the crowd all the way to the back of the lawn (fun fact: the disco ball originated in Louisville). They also added a massive LED screen as their backdrop, making the stage infinitely more colorful than the previous leg of the tour. The band tore apart the album versions of their songs, turning “Movement” into a punk rock headbanger and “You Wanted a Hit” into a wild, theremin-led electronic jam. The band left the stage only after closing their set with the nostalgic “All My Friends,” a perfect tune to highlight the importance of reconnecting with the ones you love.

Odesza – Mast Stage, Friday

Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of Odezsa put on a jaw-dropping set at Forecastle

As often as you see their logo proudly emblazoned at festivals on t-shirts and hat-pins, it’s hard to believe Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, the duo that form the sunny electronic pop Odesza, are a mere five years into the development of their band. In that short time, they’ve transitioned from emerging artists into the powerhouse position of late-night headliners for festivals all over the world, and for good reason. Their ability to both draw and energize a crowd is transcendent, which Friday’s headlining performance at Forecastle proved. The crowd of Louisville attendees danced and swayed their way through the entire 90 minute set, as the pair bounced between the already-classics of their established material as well as some the first singles (“Meridian”and “Late Night”) from their upcoming third studio album A Moment Apart due out in a little over a month.

As the sunlight waned over the skyline of the Ohio River behind the stage, the twosome adapted to the mood by breaking out one their few lyrical tracks; the Zhu-collaborative fan favorite “Faded” and the crowd sang every word with the passion a festival day well spent.

Odesza was an inspiring and energetic end to Forecastle’s first day from a band that seems likely to continue growing and making us dance for years to come. -Written by Matt Keith

Spoon – Boom Stage, Sunday 

Brit Daniel commands the Boom Stage early Sunday evening

Sunday was steady as she goes at the Boom Stage. Earlier in the day, Conor Oberst gave a shoutout to his longtime friend, Spoon’s Britt Daniel, underscoring the widespread anticipation of one of the day’s biggest draws. Straight and plain, few bands are as consistently (and objectively) great as Austin, TX’s darling indie rock vets. Eager to hear the live stylings from their acclaimed ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts, the crowd filed in early on the tail end of PJ Harvey’s captivating main stage performance. Daniel’s usual moxie and stage command was on full display, whether it was pantomiming a rifle with his guitar to mow down dancing fans or playfully discussing the band’s previous experience at the festival (this was their third appearance, despite only being able to confirm one other appearance “with the Flaming Lips”).

“We’ve been here at least one other time, I think it was with The Flaming Lips”

Daniel and Co. opened with a trio of the catchiest, grooviest offerings over the past few years—“Do I Have to Talk You Into It,” “Inside Out” and “Can I Sit Next To You”—all with a surprisingly hard-hitting bass and drum foundation, living up to the name of the stage they were taking over. The band bounced through a lineup of instant classics from their latest offering and staples from a catalog that now stretches over two decades, from “Don’t You Evah” to “I Turn My Camera On,” closing out with “Rent I Pay” from 2014’s They Want My Soul. It was without doubt, one of the most solidly constructed sets of the weekend. But what else would we expect? We’ll even forgive the fact that the band exited with 15 minutes still scheduled in their performance. Always leave ‘em wanting more, right? – Written by Jason Majewski

Run the Jewels – Boom Stage, Friday

👉 👊  Run the Jewels is not for your children

It’s 2017 and there is no excuse for not knowing how to put up your gun and fist. I mean, did you feel that bass?!

The champions came back aboard the ship. After telling the 40th president to fuck himself in 2013 and nonchalantly advising the audience to “(do dope) fuck hope” in 2015, Run the Jewels was welcomed back to the northern most part of the south on this year’s jewel runnin’ campaign. There was so much love from the best duo in hip-hop, especially since El-P seriously considered making Louisville the end of his hip-hop career for a switch to spoken word for a song. The crowd showed their love for the Brooklyn native with widespread jazz club-like snapping.

RTJ3 tracks ruled the evening and showed the seemingly effortless speed with which RTJ spits. Crowd favorites “Call Ticketron,” “Stay Gold,” and “Don’t Get Captured” brought the hype we all expected.”Oh My Darling (Don’t You Cry)” from the group’s sophomore album made the ladies dance, while El-P helped us all picture a sack of phalluses during DJ Shadow’s “Nobody Speak” track, which found RTJ’s own spinnin’ DJ Trackstar made to sound like his own creation. The duo’s self titled track “Run The Jewels” closed the evening to let the veteran fans get wild one more time in Louisville. Michael Render 2020. -Written by Ryan Bellone

Foxygen – Boom Stage, Sunday

“On Blue Mountain God will save you, put the pieces back together” – Sam France, Foxygen

In 2013 Foxygen put on one of the rowdiest shows the Boom Stage had ever seen as frontman Sam France put on a performance that boarded on self-mutilation, choking himself with his mic cable and running around the stage with no regard for his well-being. But now, the punks are playing jazz. Joining France (vocals, guitar) and Jonathan Rado (keys, guitar) this time was a full horn section which helped to fully-realize the sound they are going for on their new album Hang.

France took the stage with a white powdered face and gaunt, sunken eyes looking like a strung out David Bowie in his prime. His makeup didn’t last long as he hammed it up with his signature over-the-top theatrics in the 90-degree heat. No matter, he just reapplied his makeup after every wardrobe change, of which there were three.

Foxygen’s Jonathon Rado shreds as the horn section brings Hang to life

After a three-song run from 21st Century that included the favorites “21st Century,” “San Francisco” and “Shuggie,” France returned to the stage wearing denim and a cowboy hat, exploding into an anthemic version of “America” and “Follow the Leader”. The band stuck to tracks soley from We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic and Hang, oddly showing no love for their sophomore masterpiece …And Star Power. The set-closers “No Distruction” and “On Blue Mountain” were crowd-inciting sing-alongs that reminded the audience of Foxygen’s roots in punk rock and showmanship.

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires – Mast Stage, Sunday

The Sultan of Soul!

L-O-V-E, LOVE. That is the message that soul singer Charles Bradley spread throughout his all-too-short 45 minute set. His band of Extraordinaries kicked things off without their 68 year old leader, drawing in a large crowd before the star of the show took the stage. When Bradley did arrive, it was to great applause. 

In Fall of 2016 the singer was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was forced to take a break from touring and seek treatment. He has noted that it was the love and support of his fans that kept him going through those difficult times.

On stage, Bradley is the definition of soul. The Daptones Records performer slides sexily across the stage making women swoon. He licks the tip of his finger seductively. He’s a Bad Man. – Written by Joel Stevens

Classixx – Ocean Stage, Saturday

Classixx was the sleeper set of the weekend on the Ocean Stage

There’s always, at least, one show on the Ocean Stage that catches you by surprise at Forecastle. You’ve heard their sound but you don’t know what their live show is about, yet they end up being one of the highlights of the weekend. Artists like Flume, RL Grime and Purity Ring have all taken those honors in previous years, but in 2017 it was decidedly Classixx that made us become instant fans.

Like a dancier version of Tycho with disco influences, Classixx’s set was dreamy, grooving EDM at it’s best. The duo of Michael David and Tyler Blake moved between modern pop, R&B grooves, and 90s house music, showing an evolution of their musical style, while still maintaining the infectious dance grooves that they’ve built their career on.

Vince Staples – Ocean Stage, Saturday

Vince Staples crushed the Ocean Stage with hits like “Norf Norf” and “Blue Suede”

Hot off his new album Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples proved he’s at the top of the hip-hop game for a reason. Performing in all black in front of a very minimal orange backdrop, Staples left the stage twice breaking the set into three acts.  This is a stark contrast to a lot of rap shows: No dj, no hype man, no team of scantly-clad women twerking, just a rapper and his mic.

Staples rapped with ferocity, pacing the stage as he impeccably recited his lyrics as he mean-mugged the crowd. Set highlights included his track “Ascension” from Gorillaz Humanz, as well and his own bangers like “Blue Suede” before ending his set on the near-riot-starting version of “Norf Norf”.

GlitterTitz – Party Cove, All Weekend

If this is the Party Cove during the day, imagine what it’s like when the lights go out!

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-GlitterTitz, probably

Sunburnt and sore, most festival goers chose to close out the festival in front of the Mast Stage, posted up on their blankets with friends and loved ones, singing along to Weezer’s seemingly endless catalog of familiar Top 40 hits.  It’s a time to wind down and cool off, and to accept the fact that the real world is waiting behind the next sunrise.  The weekend is officially over…apparently no one told that to GlitterTitz.

The bass from the Party Cove pulsed like a fast heartbeat, beckoning those that wanted to squeeze out all they could in the dying hours of the festival.  The Louisville DJ duo, on their third and final set of the weekend, had determined that Forecastle would end with a bang, not a whimper.  Sweaty bodies jumped and flailed to techno renditions of YG, Lil Jon, even the Legend of Zelda theme.  GlitterTitz could do no wrong.  People flooded the Cove for one last chance to turn up.

Despite being one of the last two shows of the festival, it was the rowdiest crowd that we experienced all weekend.  It was also far and away the set with the most police presence.  While more and more people packed the tiny Party Cove in steady droves, things felt like they were on the brink of chaos.  Suddenly, as GlitterTitz was starting a remix of Kanye West’s “Bound 2″ the music was abruptly cut off.  One of the DJs, seemingly confused and reluctant, announced that the night was finished.  Scheduled to go for at least another forty-five minutes, you could tell this was not their decision as they kept looking off to the side, taking orders from some unseen figure.  They tried to start the music up again in one last ditch attempt of defiance, but they were cut off as quickly as they started.

As the crowd slowly shuffled back to the main stage, I thought about how appropriate it was that the set would come to a screeching halt instead of slowly fading into the night.  There were no answers as to why the set ended early.  Some think it was because it was getting too wild, others speculated that it was taking too many people away from Weezer.  I choose to go with whichever answer sounds the coolest.  Thanks GlitterTitz, for reminding us how important it is to rage against the dying of the light. – Written by Ben Hayes

GRiZ Secret Set at The Party Cove – Friday

Dead Audio was tipped off early on Friday (although we had a suspicion) of a GRiZ surprise set at the Party Cove during Odesza’s headlining time. This allowed us to see all of RTJ’s set and still get some GRiZ love later that night.

Apparently we weren’t the only one’s that heard of the secret set. The Party Cove was as crazy as we’d ever seen it (until GlitterTitz stage-closing set on Sunday), every square inch of the shaded oasis was now a dance floor for one of the most talented DJs in the world. While lightly sampling his own material, GRiZ played mainly remixes of today’s hottest EDM, funk and hip-hop tracks, there was even a nostalgic shoutout as he blasted the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants, perfect for the weekend’s ocean theme.

*repeat repeat – Mast Stage, Saturday

*repeat repeat kick things off on the Mast Stage on Saturday

Rounding out the festival bill were Nashville rockers *repeat repeat. The Dead Audio team sat down with the band to discuss their incredible on-stage chemistry and unique style of surf candy rock & roll. You can read the full article here: *repeat repeat on Repeat.

Now in it’s 15th year, Forecastle has become a meeting place for friends, family and music lovers of all walks of life. With fans flocking from all over the country Every year there are more familiar faces and the music gets better and better. From reuniting bands on stage, to friends reconnecting throughout the weekend, to rediscovering your favorite music from an earlier age over a bourbon during a great set of live music, Forecastle is the only one place to be in July. See you next year!

There’s always more than just music at any AC Entertainment event, here’s s snapshot of other happenings at Waterfront Park: