This weekend, July 13-15, marks the return of Louisville’s annual Forecastle Festival, one of our favorite regional musical events. From its humble beginnings in 2002, Forecastle has grown to become a national festival fixture, drawing tens of thousands of attendees each year to the picturesque downtown Waterfront Park, for three days of music, art, activism, and, of course, Kentucky bourbon. Boasting yet another impressive lineup, this year’s installment, an easy drive for Middle Tennessee residents and a no-brainer for Kentuckians, is one of our most-highly anticipated events of the season, and, per usual, we want to help you prepare with daily rundowns of our can’t-miss acts. Head here for day tickets or weekend passes if you still need ’em, and check out our 10 most-anticipated Friday Forecastle performances below!
#10: LOUISVILLE LEOPARD PERCUSSIONISTS
Friday | Port Stage | 4:30pm
Made up of student musicians in grades 2-9, from nearly 50 schools around the Louisville area, the Louisville Leopard Percussionists are a non-profit, extracurricular performance ensemble helmed by director Diane Downs. These talented kids play a variety of rock and pop covers, from classics to contemporary, and they’re a seriously cool addition to this year’s festival slate.
WATCH | “Crazy Train”
WATCH | “Uptown Funk” & “Do Whatcha Wanna”
Friday | Ocean Stage | 3:45pm
Hailing from North Carolina, alternative duo Flagship craft an earnest, pop-accessible, atmospheric type of indie rock we have a serious soft spot for. After two great EPs and a well-received eponymous debut album, the group hit the studio with acclaimed drummer and producer Joey Waronker for their sophomore effort, 2016’s The Electric Man, and have been amassing increased buzz ever since.
LISTEN | “Mexican Jackpot”
WATCH | “Life Underwater” (Official Music Video)
#8: RAINBOW KITTEN SURPRISE
Friday | Mast Stage | 6:00pm
One of the coolest rock success stories of the past few years, genre-bending Boone, NC alt/indie rock outfit Rainbow Kitten Surprise have gone from buzzy underground act to main stage festival performer at a swift and well-deserved pace. With infectious harmonies and lush instrumentation, their sound has become increasingly honed across three great LPs, and they have the magnetic live show to match.
LISTEN | “Devil Like Me”
WATCH | “Fever Pitch” (Official Music Video)
#7: WAX FANG
Friday | Port Stage | 6:30pm
One of Louisville’s preeminent rock acts, and one of many hometown talents to grace the lineup this year, Wax Fang is largely the brainchild of frontman Scott Carney, who began it was a solo outlet before fleshing out the full band. With four LPs to their name, the psychedelic, experimental outfit have shared the stage with some huge acts, and their return to Forecastle follows last year’s stellar Victory Laps.
LISTEN | “The Things I Do For Fun”
WATCH | “Mirror, Mirror” (Official Music Video)
#6: I’M WITH HER
Friday | Boom Stage | 3:45pm
A bi-coastal supergroup of sorts, trio I’m With Her (and yes, they had the name before the Clinton campaign coopted the slogan) is the combined artistic prowess of rootsy, Americana singer-songwriters Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. Given their pedigree, it’s no surprise that the band’s full-length debut, this year’s See You Around, is magnificent, and their live show just as compelling.
LISTEN | “See You Around”
WATCH | “Game to Lose” (Official Music Video)
Friday | Boom Stage | 5:30pm
Celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band this year, Memphis group Lucero have been bridging the gap between country and punk since their scrappy early beginnings. Influenced by heartland leaning punks like the Replacements, the band have remained a bombastic and dependable sonic force, and with forthcoming 12th album Among the Ghosts, sound as relevant and earnest as ever.
LISTEN | “For the Lonely Ones”
WATCH | “The Man I Was” (Official Music Video)
Friday | Ocean Stage | 5:15pm
Atlanta born, New York based r&b singer Berhana sprung onto the scene two years ago with his self-titled debut EP, which lit up the blogosphere thanks to his stylish, personal, story-driven style and cinematic prowess. After a two year break to hone his craft, the buzzy singer reemerged a few months ago, and is once again quickly turning heads with his unique sound. See him now, ’cause he’s destined for great things.
LISTEN | “Whole Wide World”
WATCH | “Grey Luh” (Official Music Video)
#3: MODEST MOUSE
Friday | Mast Stage | 10:15pm
After a frustratingly long eight years, Pacific Northwest indie rock icons Modest Mouse dropped their sixth album, Strangers to Ourselves, back in 2015, and have remained incredibly active on the road ever since. In fact, they last played Forecastle that same year, but with an extensive and beloved back catalogue spanning 25 years, and maybe (hopefully??) some new tunes in the works as well, their return is a welcome one, and their Friday night set should set weekend bar high.
LISTEN | “Lampshades on Fire”
WATCH | “Float On” (Official Music Video)
#2: KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS
Friday | Boom Stage | 7:15pm
After rising to recognition a decade ago as the lead guitarist for The War On Drugs (who play Forecastle Saturday), Philly indie rocker Kurt Vile left in 2009 to focus on his incrasingly flourishing solo career, amassing breakout critical acclaim for 2013 fifth album Wakin on a Pretty Daze and followup b’lieve I’m goin down… Now a modern indie icon, Kurt’s collaborative LP last year with Courtney Barnett was similarly stellar.
LISTEN | “Wakin’ On a Pretty Day”
WATCH | “Pretty Pimpin” (Official Music Video)
#1: FATHER JOHN MISTY
Friday | Mast Stage | 8:00pm
The musical alter-ego of long-running indie rocker Josh Tillman, Father John Misty began as a sort of meta, self-referential reinvention on 2012 debut Fear Fun, and over four incredible albums, has morphed into a profound, poetic, pseudo-satirical icon of the times; an indie rocker for the modern age. If you don’t take him too seriously (as he doesn’t himself), his festival outings are unbelievably fun and always unique, and we’re looking forward to FJM the most to get our Forecastle off to a perfect start.
LISTEN | “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
WATCH | “God’s Favorite Customer” (Official Music Video)