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Forecastle Festival: A First Timer's Guide

Another festival, another edition of A First Timer's Guide, this time exploring the 2018 Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY.

Finding the location (located in Louisville's beautiful Waterfront Park) and accessibility to the festival was extremely easy and I never incurred a problem finding nearby parking during any of the three days there. Only a maximum of a 20-minute wait to get through security over the three days, which was nice compared to other festivals I've been to.

Once inside it immediately felt like a music commune based in a Kurt Vonnegut novel complete with dust in the air from the gravel, pop up shops and the park's sweaty yet happy dwellers.

As I crossed the bridge across the long and beautiful waterfall installment that ran as a divider between stages I saw the MAST Stage (where most of the headliners perform) and looked off into the distance to see the serenity and grace that the bridges, river and sky let me to behold. This feeling came back more powerfully at sundown on Sunday while watching Arcade Fire, but more on them later.

There seemed to be a lot of refuge for those who wanted to get out of the scorching sun around the property and free water fill up stations were easily assessible to help with the possibility of dehydration.

There were plenty of food options ranging from carnival style food to tacos and sushi.

The acoustics for the park sounded clear and concise with what each act's sound was looking for, which can be hard to do with an outdoor multi stage festival and I feel like the bridges helped tunnel the sound out from the main stage into the food court, so everyone could still hear their favorite Kurt Vile or Courtney Barnett tunes.

From a festival experience stand point I think forecastle was everything it needed to be and a little more from a music festival with humble beginnings, to one that seems to be getting better with each year.

A fun addition this year was the Party Cove, the Ferris Wheel and the Viking Ship. Within the Party Cove you could take a rest from the sun with the tree lined escape ending with a DJ to maintain the party atmosphere. The Ferris Wheel and Viking Ship were only $6 to ride and the view of the festival grounds from either was worth its weight in gold.

Before festival start time is a great time to get some Louisville exploration done. You can cruise around downtown and take a stroll down 4th street to take in plenty of shops and restaurants and do some searching through the many antique malls and specialty stores around the city. If you are feeling a little dark and eclectic, check out an oddity shop called Unorthodox.


Jenny Lewis made myself and a couple thousand more people cry in unison with her performance of "You Are What You Love." The songstress owned the stage and the attention of the crowd with her sweet, yet gritty demeanor and butter defined vocal arrangements that complement the sweetness and grit of her stage presence.

Speaking of a sterling performer, Father John Misty wowed just like I've seen and heard on the internet. This will go down in my top 5 favorite performances ever. Father John was completely magnetic and didn't let the Kentucky heat wedge any downward differential between that and performing. Theatrical, mesmerizing and a gray blip of calculation and ad-libbed emotion. No matter your opinion on him, he gave 110% to this show, and closing out with "I Love You, Honeybear" left everyone satisfied.

Courtney Barnett had the audience mesmerized. She started off her set slow but confident. It didn’t take long for her to dig her feet in the stage and show Louisville what she was about. When “Avant Gardener” started there were shrieks from the crowd and a full-on scream along.

Arcade Fire's album spanning set was a perfect cap to the festival. Covering all bases from The Funeral to Neon Bible to their newest releases. Watching the sun fade into the horizon while Winn and co belted out "Here Comes the Night Time" was something that will stick with me for the rest of my life and hearing the crowd take over the choral chorus from "Wake Up" gave me and thousands of others the chills.