Updated Sat, Jul 19, 2014 1:51 pm
The Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., is a three-day event that ties together four stages of music, all alongside the river in the 85-acre Waterfront Park.
Started in 2002, it’s become of the biggest summer music festivals around. This year, the festival boasts three major headliners: Beck, Jack White, and Outkast, as well as a slew of prominent national and regional acts.
Set against the backdrop of the river with boats passing by, there are many intriguing visuals that pair well with the music and vibe of the performances, creating a truly gorgeous and unique layout.
With Forecastle there is an emphasis on art, social activism, and the best of Louisville and Kentucky culture. The center of the festival includes a massive stretch of local food fare, including barbeque, artisan cuisine and southern menus. Also on site are multiple craft beer, bourbon and moonshine booths, with one entire lodge devoted to Kentucky bourbon.
The festival site is filled with on-site art projects, including a yacht being painted in real time, as well as parades of puppets and artistic revelry (a 12-foot tall Hunter S. Thompson being one of them).
Although day one had on-and-off drizzle, there were no complaints from attendees who made their way between the four stages. The first set of the festival began with a set by Cincinnati's own Public, who played on the Ocean Stage.
Afterwards, I made my way over to The Mast Stage, the main stage of the festival. Although not full yet, by the time Outkast hit the stage later that night, there would be tens of thousands of people fanned out across the mult-acre site.
Throughout the day on the Mast Stage I caught some good southern soul, starting with Benjamin Booker's three piece and then the energetic Jacksonville band JJ Grey & Mofro, who won a huge horde of fans throughout their set.
Later in the day, guitarslinger Gary Davis Jr. hit the stage, coming off of a year of breakthrough recogition for his guitar and blues prowess, most notably at this year's Grammys where he guested on a performance with Keith Urban.
However, the bands on the Boom Stage brought some of the best performances of the day, starting with Atlanta's Black Lips, followed by the sonic onslaught of Against Me! where the entire crowd chanted in unison with their heavy anthems.
Local Natives were next, with legions of fans shouting choruses to their high-power set, which included a standout cover of Talking Heads' "Warning Sign."
Over at the Ocean Stage, Nightmares on Wax brought some great hip-hop/sample-based grooves before Columbus, Ohio's own Twenty-One Pilots wowed a huge crowd at the main stage, which included their trademark high-wire delivery. ("We're going to give you everything we've got", they declared.)
Spoon closed the night on the Boom stage with a nice helping of songs from their upcoming album, They Want My Soul, as well as material from their previous albums, including "Don't You Evah" and "I Turn My Camera On." The band (now a five-piece, with the addition of a new bassist) was in fine form. They played at the same time as hip-hop maestro Action Bronson, who graced the Ocean Stage, with both acts ending in time for Outkast.
The Outkast show found a grateful and adoring audience, with a massive crowd chanting lyrics in unison. Rain fell the hardest during their set (Big Boi tweeted out a pic of his "rain shoes" earlier that night), but it didn't deter everyone from sticking around to sing songs like "Hey Ya" and "Ms. Jackson".
Outkast wrapped up by thanking their fans for staying with them throughout their 20-year career. The performance resembled a Funkadelic or Prince show, with turntables, horn sections and a live band creating a suitably funky and dynamic backdrop to the long-awaited return for this breakthrough duo.