This weekend, July 15-17, 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 10s 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: LIZ VICE
Friday | Mast Stage | 3:45pm
As a medium-sized festival, Forecastle’s lineup is sometimes not as eclectic as similar, bigger events, so we always keep an eye out for some hidden gems outside of the typical rock/indie/folk/electronic bubble. Portland’s Liz Vice is one such standout, armed with a soulful, powerful voice and a gospel-infused r&b sound. Though she grew up with a love of music, Vice didn’t began performing in public until her ’20s, deciding on a whim to begin singing in church. Shaped by a battle with health problems earlier in life, and installed with strong values, Liz’s soulful and personal sound is derived simply from a love of gospel and her art, with no aspirations of fame or fortune. Her debut album, There’s a Light, conjures vibes of Adele, Marvin Gaye, and Des’ree, and we have a feeling she’ll be a surprise Friday standout!
LISTEN | “Empty Me Out”
WATCH | “There’s a Light” (Live)
Friday | Mast Stage | 5:30pm
A platinum single, a top 40 album, a number one spot on the Alt Rock and Modern Rock charts, global acclaim, 11 television appearances, countless commercial placements (including the crème de la crème, Apple), numerous festival spots, and tours with the likes of Foster the People, Florence and the Machine, and Two Door Cinema Club. These are a few of the MANY impressive accomplishments LA alt/indie/dance pop act Grouplove have achieved in the span of about five years. Formed organically in 2009 in New York City, Grouplove quickly started gaining traction shortly after independently recording and releasing a self-titled debut EP. Their smash debut full-length, Never Trust a Happy Song, would follow in 2011, and, propelled by infectiously catchy lead single “Tongue Tied,” helped the band become a household name. “Tongue Tied” appeared everywhere, from Apple commercials to GLEE, and, though they haven’t quite managed to match its ubiquity, the band have produced several more stadium-ready hits. Though it perhaps hasn’t garnered as much buzz as Happy Song, Grouplove’s 2013 sophomore release, Spreading Rumours, managed to climb higher on the charts, and their upcoming third effort, Big Mess, already seems like it’s shaping up to be a worthy and exciting return.
LISTEN | “Ways to Go”
WATCH | “Tongue Tied” (Official Music Video)
#8: WILD CHILD
Friday | WFPK Port Stage | 5:45pm
Hovering comfortably between the realms of indie rock and folk music, Texas relative newcomers Wild Child are quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best and most exciting up and coming acts in the rich Austin music scene. Formed in 2009 by core songwriting duo Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins, Wild Child released their first album, Pillow Talk, in 2011, to immediate acclaim. The pair met by chance on a tour, and, upon discovering their immediate musical chemistry, enlisted the other members who now make up Wild Child. Though their early music leaned acoustic, a combination of touring and the production guidance of Ben Kweller on their sophomore release, The Runaround, has unleashed more of an electric embrace, and a more fully-formed penchant for dense, catchy orchestration. Already darlings of the indie folk scene, Wild Child’s whimsical, energetic, and upbeat aesthetics, paired with heartfelt lyricism and an unbeatably fun live show, has earned them endless media praise, tons of SXSW hype, and even two Austin Music Awards. Their most recent LP, Fools, further explores their inherent pop tendencies, and makes them a need-to-know artist and formidable festival addition.
LISTEN | “Crazy Bird”
WATCH | “Break Bones” (Official Music Video)
#7: GLASS ANIMALS
Friday | Boom Stage | 8:30pm
Formed five years ago while frontman David Bayley was in med school, Oxford, England’s Glass Animals were never supposed to be a full-time project. Suffering from insomnia, Bayley begin working on song demos in GarageBand late at night, eventually forming the genesis for the group’s 2012 debut EP, Leaflings. After sharing the music with his childhood friends and future bandmates, who proceeded to polish the dense, poppy, psychedelic, indie, and trip hop infused tracks, Glass Animals were born, and soon found themselves surrounded by an unimaginable array of buzz. The band signed to Wolf Tone, the imprint label of producer Paul Epworth, and found an even broader audience with the release of their self-titled EP in 2013. After scoring high-profile shows in Europe supporting the likes of St. Vincent, Metronomy, Yeasayer, and based on the strength of last year’s incredible full-length debut, Zaba, Glass Animals proceeded to tour the globe, and have quickly become an exciting new fixture on the festival circuit. Their refreshing, unique sound is enhanced by their smart and broad thematic focus, producing songs rooted in literature, folklore, and broad personal experience. The group incorporate elements of tropical percussion, r&b, and a huge palette of organic and synthesized sounds, and, already, due to the strength of tracks like “Black Mambo” and “Gooey,” have earned a reputation for being one of the best, most enigmatic artists to emerge from the indie scene in recent memory. Their highly-anticipated sophomore LP, How to Be a Human Being, is slated for release next month, so expect to hear some new tunes along with plenty of favorites!
LISTEN | “Gooey”
WATCH | “Life Itself” (Official Music Video)
#6: GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY
Friday | Ocean Stage | 8:30pm
After something of a hiatus since 2013, Austin electro/dance rock duo Ghostland Observatory sprung back to life last year. Known for their theatrical, frenetic live show, the group, formed in 2004 by vocalist/guitarist Aaron Behrens and drummer/synth player Thomas Ross Turner, fuse electronic dance music with indie rock, more minimalist, but not dissimilar from acts like LCD Soundsystem. With four LPs, two EPs, three live albums, and a DVD to their name, Ghostland have become an acclaimed force in the indie scene, praised for their performance style and perfectly suited for festivals. Dance and electronic music has long been an important piece of Forecastle’s lineup, and is usually contained to the Ocean Stage; with so much great music happening, it seems like we overlook this aspect of the lineup the most, so if you’re in the same boat, and looking for some crossover dance music to round out your day, Ghostland Observatory are a perfect way to get your fix. They also happen to be perhaps the toughest scheduling conflict of Friday, slotted directly against Glass Animals.
LISTEN | “Give Me the Beat”
WATCH | “Sad Sad City” (Live)
#5: MOON TAXI
Friday | Boom Stage | 6:30pm
One of Nashville’s definitive rock and roll success stories of the past few years, Moon Taxi began almost a decade ago, while several members were students at Belmont. Quickly finding a regional audience following the 2007 release of their debut, Melodica, the group’s early days were characterized by a compelling and polished live show, and an affinity for jam-inspired rock with progressive tendencies. A 2008 live album would follow, and gave way to further touring, early festival appearances, headlining spots at local clubs, and increased Nashville prominence through slots at events like Live on the Green. The group’s sophomore release, Cabaret, arrived in 2012, and really set the wheels in motion for the whirlwind of success they’ve since experienced. Finding a poppier balance, doubling down on their songwriting (after often being praised more for their live show), and incorporating electronics, Moon Taxi quickly found a larger critical and commercial audience, going, in a matter of months, from local events like East Nashville Underground, to prominent spots at national fests (including a 2013 debut at Forecastle), appearances on late night television (Letterman, Conan, Seth Meyers), and nonstop touring. 2013’s Mountains Beaches Cities followed a sonically similar approach to proggy, poppy, alternative rock, paving the way for their latest, last year’s Daybreaker, perhaps the most broadly accessible Moon Taxi release to date, and the best recorded representation of the power and energy of their live show, doubling down a honed-in focus on tight, dynamic songwriting.
LISTEN | “All Day All Night”
WATCH | “Mercury” (Official Music Video)
Friday | WFPK Port Stage | 4:15pm
Brooklyn based indie rockers Caveman came together in 2010, and quickly made a splash in the underground scene and blogosphere with self-released (later label re-released) debut CoCo Beware in 2011. Building on a folky template, but unafraid to incorporate broader pop, synthy, ambient, and post-rock tendencies, the band struck a chord with their earnest, accessible sound and inherently cool style. Their 2013 eponymous release helped cement their buzz band status, and took the group, who also sometimes double at DJs, on the road with the likes of The War on Drugs, Jeff Tweedy, and Weezer. On their brand new third album, Otero War, Caveman flex even more crossover appeal and set their cites on mainstream ambitions, citing frontman Matthew Iwanusa’s vision of “blending Springsteen and Wilco’s polished roots rock with the soaring emotional drama of Tears for Fears and the Human League.” A definite band to keep an eye on, Caveman should absolutely be on your must-see list this year.
LISTEN | “In the City”
WATCH | “Never Going Back” (Official Music Video)
Friday | Boom Stage | 4:45pm
Alabama native Matthew Houck has been honing his craft for over 15 years, first under the name Fillup Shack, initially based in Athens, GA, and then as his current live alias, Phosphorescent. Now residing in Brooklyn, Phosphorescent’s rise to critical acclaim and underground fame has been gradual, but no less well-deserved. Since 2003, he’s released a series of six full-length albums, navigating the realms of indie rock, pop, folk, and alternative. A talented multi-instrumetnliast and self-sufficient producer, Houck’s 2007 Dead Oceans debut Pride would prove to be a turning point for critical recognition, though, inarguably, his most recent effort, 2013’s Muchacho, is what finally helped Phosphorescent break through to a broader audience (if you’ve heard one Phosphorescent song, it’s probably “Song for Zula”). A new album feels overdue, so, in addition to being a stunning and personal live performer, Matthew’s set should also be a priority for the likelihood of hearing new music!
LISTEN | “Song for Zula”
WATCH | “Ride On / Right On” (Official Music Video)
#2: THE AVETT BROTHERS
Friday | Mast Stage | 9:30pm
Long before their breakthrough, 2007 fifth album Emotionalism helped make them a household name, North Carolina folk rockers The Avett Brothers were already striking a chord in the indie world, building up a rabid fanbase in pockets of the country like the southwest and southeast, where their earlier, largely self-sufficient efforts, a blend of folk, Americana, bluegrass, and indie rock, performed with a ferocity and punk spirit, helped prime a new musical landscape long before the Mumford & Sons of the world would come along and skyrocket it to the top of the charts. Founded around 2000 by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, following the demise of their prior projects, and rounded out by bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon, The Avett Brothers found some early praise and even a few awards and mild chart success, before signing to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings and teaming up with the superproducer for their sixth LP, 2009’s I And Love And You. Rubin would go on to helm their subsequent efforts, including The Carpenter, the band’s highest chart performer to date, and since 2012, the four-piece band have added backing players to expand their ever-evolving palette, incorporating full drums, organs, violin, and more into their sound. Veterans of the festival circuit, frequent television guests (a 2011 Grammy appearance with Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan helped boost their presence), and now an arena-sized touring act, The Avetts have benefitted from a newfound resurgence in folk rock, yet have been forging their own path for so long, that their unique, personal, and energetic approach seems immune to the fad’s decline. The group’s long-awaited, highly-anticped ninth album, True Sadness, just arrived last month, and marks some of their most expansive songwriting to date.
LISTEN | “Shame”
WATCH | “Ain’t No Man” (Official Music Video)
Friday | WFPK Port Stage | 7:30pm
Throughout their earliest shows in 2013, buzzyworthy DIY releases and local domination in 2014, and subsequent signing, major label full-length debut, and well-earned international acclaim in 2015, watching local grunge pop group Bully rightfully ascend to become one of modern rock and roll’s most important acts has been an immensely gratifying journey. Led by singer/songwriter/producer Alicia Bognanno, an MTSU grad and former intern of beloved producer Steve Albini, Bully, despite their big label pedigree, have always been, and largely remain, a fiercely organic, self-sufficient unit. Since their earlier 7″ and tape efforts, self-released self-titled EP, and last year’s full-length debut, Feels Like, which landed on more year end lists than we can count (including on top of our own), the band have always managed to find a balance between ’90s alt-rock and grunge nostalgia, pop sensibilities, punk attitude, and modern indie flair, cemented by Bognanno’s unparalleled ear for production and biting musical sensibilities. Rounded out by drummer Stewart Copeland, guitarist Clayton Parker, and bassist Reece Lazarus, Bully are at home performing with legacy and contemporary indie and punk acts, and have quickly become festival favorites, catching attention beyond just media praise, and having their music featured in outlets like television commercials, video games, and late night TV. The group seem poised to become a certifiable household name this year, and their appearance at Forecastle comes at a time when they’re fast becoming one of the most important rock bands making music today. They’re playing the smallest stage, sure, but they’re still the day’s most indispensable act.
LISTEN | “I Remember”
WATCH | “Trying” (Official Video)