Updated Sun, Jul 20, 2014 6:55 pm
Clouds threatened rain early on but held off, providing a shaded atmosphere on Day Two of the 2014 Forecastle Festival.
Saturday's sets started with Hurray for the Riff Raff, a band that has been receiving accolades for their most recent release, Small Town Heroes. Festival attendees were on-site early to catch their set, which pulled heavily from the new album.
The Mast Stage boasted a string of long-awaited acts, kicking off with a rousing set from The Soul Rebels. Spanish Gold, a band that features Louisville native and My Morning Jacket Drummer Patrick Hallahan, as well as Hacienda’s Dante Schwebel and ex-Grupo Fantasma guitarist Adrian Quesada, was an unexpected discovery. They churned out an impressive set of new songs, including the recently released "Day Drinkin'."
The biggest comeback so far though, was the return of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Having just successfully overcome a bout with cancer, Jones officially finished chemotherapy in December and was back with a joyful vengeance.
Many wondered if Jones would ever return to the stage, but she's back and in fine form. She and the group are wrapping up their tour this month, with Forecastle being the last date ("I'm going HOME, getting me a lake and a fishing pole for some 'me' time after this!" she shouted).
Her high-energy soul revue with the Dap-Kings seemed to have an extra edge of impassioned delivery. Jones noted as much, saying "I’m thankful for being here. In my church we dance when we’re happy and we dance when we’re sad. I’m dancing now because I’m happy."
In the closing moments of the set, which featured a number of songs from this year's Give The People What They Want, Jones led the festival audience through a history of dance moves from the 1960s.
Elsewhere on site, breakthrough Australian band Boy & Bear and Lord Huron played to huge crowds on the Boom Stage, with Jason Isbell and the legendary Dwight Yoakam playing to packed audiences.
Isbell’s band was incredible, performing rocking versions of songs from last year’s Southeastern. Alongside Yoakam, Band of Horses and '90s icons Slint played dueling sets to hordes of fans.
Band of Horses drew legions of fans and performed mightily, starting off with a few songs stripped-down to minimal members with acoustics, then building to well-known numbers from albums such as Cease to Begin.
As with music, the culture of Kentucky was on full display, with an entire "Bourbon Barn" dedicated to providing taste tests of the leading distillers in the state. Each distiller has its own custom "station" set up, where attendees can sample and learn about the distilling process first-hand.
The festival also features "celebrity bartending", with members of bands stopping by to serve bourbon from the main bar and interact with fans over a glass of whiskey. Events take place two-to-three times a day within the barn, giving festivalgoers an opportunity to engage with distillers in "fireside chats." It's no secret that Kentucky is proud of its Bourbon and that pride was on full display throughout the festival grounds.
The evening closed with an explosive 24-song set from Jack White. The performance was packed heavily with White Stripes tracks, including the opener "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," "Hotel Yorba," a dazzling "Ball and a Biscuit" and an epic and extended "Seven Nation Army," which had the crowd chanting the iconic riff as loud as the band.
White’s touring lineup features an incredible array of ace musicians assembled from across the country and, with White at the helm, careened through White’s newest outing Lazaretto and tracks from 2012's Blunderbuss.
White also included two Ranconteurs tracks, "Steady As She Goes" and "Top Yourself," a Hank Williams cover and some noteable snippets within songs, including shoutouts to Jay-Z, Dwight Yoakam and a short cover of Dick Dale’s "Miserlou" inside of the solo of "Icky Thump."
Blowing past the set's closing time, White’s energy and antics brought ecstasy to those in attendance and demonstrated why he is one of the leading performers and guitarists of his time.