FORECASTLE 2017: An Inland Island Paradise

Article by Kelli Kocak

Since Forecastle first set sail five years ago, the music festival competition has grown to epic proportions. It seems that every month there is a new festival popping up boasting a new and exciting experience with similar acts. Under such conditions, how does an intimate city fest in the middle of Kentucky command a faithful audience and a cult-like following? It only takes one visit to see how Forecastle continues to wash away the competition:


Tucked inside a seemingly quiet region of the country, Louisville, KY, is a hidden jewel of unique architecture, authentic world cuisine, and the most welcoming people in America. Hosting venue Waterfront Park sits directly on the Ohio River, offering a picturesque background of bridges, boats, and breathtaking sunsets filling the space between your favorite bands. Walking bridges, plentiful numbers of bike racks, and a well-lit downtown area ensure safety and convenience for all. Louisville is a majestic city with the right accommodations for residents and tourists alike.

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

BOURBON LODGE:  What trip to Kentucky would be complete without a 1600-sq.-ft. wonderland filled with the world’s best bourbon? Walking through the door to the Lodge bears striking resemblance to that moment when Charlie first crossed the threshold to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If you have a palate for classic cocktails and fine spirits, throw the Bourbon Lodge at Forecastle on your bucket list. In addition to offering libations, you can find educational seminars, tastings, trivia, and other events in this magical escape from the heat.

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

TITO’s LOVE MURAL:  BLOODY. MARY. BAR. Need I say more? Right outside the Tito’s vintage trailer sits a plethora of DIY hot sauces, garnishes, and everything you could want for a truly exceptional Mary. The bar also offers other craft cocktails to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Inside the vintage trailer is an air-conditioned space overflowing with promotional swag and bench seating for festival-goers to relax and rejuvenate.

GONZO BAR: One of the most unusual experiences of Forecastle is walking into this half-craft bar/half-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fan’s dream. Art installments paying homage to the movie adorn the space, a typewriter is set up in the corner where patrons can write notes and hang them on the walls, and quotes from the infamous character Gonzo (a la Hunter S. Thompson, Louisville’s favorite freaky son) are written throughout the interior of the bar, tying together the interactive experience.

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

DANK NOMS: By definition, a dank nom is festival food at its finest. You can find anything covered with cheese, or on a stick, or deep fried, or vegan, or exotic, or fusion, or any spin on a classic. One of the notable dishes of the weekend, for example, was a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich with grilled bananas and bacon. If that doesn’t raise your eyebrow and your appetite, there are dozens of food trucks and vendors with equally creative food items to choose from, so there is no doubt that you will find your new favorite dish.

GA PLUS:  If you like festivals but can’t stand the heat and long lines, or the costly VIP options, then the GA Plus tier is for you. In addition to festival entry, GA Plus offers exclusive lounges throughout the venue with impressive A/C units, charging stations, comfortable cushioned seating, and VIP style bars with no lines and no waiting. Suffice it to say that this area alone should set the standard for all festival experiences, and our fingers are crossed that GA Plus lounges start popping up across the country at other venues soon.


THE FORECASTLE DERBY:  A staple (and stable) to the festival is the famous bouncy horseracing course, the Forecastle Derby. Patrons can hop-along their way to victory throughout the weekend, and winners can earn ultimate bragging rights and prizes by competing against each other in a tournament held each evening. So close to the real Kentucky Derby, you’ll need a hat and a mint julip.

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

PARTY COVE:  Tucked away into the back corner of the festival is a shaded valley with an unbelievable stage converted from a boat, disco balls hanging from the trees, and mind-blowing sets from the region’s best artists. Parties at the cove get crazy, so dancing shoes are a must! Keep your eyes and ears open, because rumor has it Party Cove is the place to find secret sets from the lineup’s top-billed acts as well.

KENTUCKY LANDING:  Behind the Boom Stage is the perfect casual lounging space to sit back and take in the music and sights. Kentucky Landing is well shaded by giant oak trees and has several picnic tables and ample ground space for tapestries. If your crew is looking for a meet-up spot between sets, this is it. This relaxing area is also lined with food trucks and proves to be one of the Boom Stage’s most desirable viewing areas, with good reason.  

… and of course:

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

Forecastle far exceeded musical expectations when they dropped one of the best lineups of 2017. A perfect mix of today’s top artists, up-and-coming talent, future household names, and throwback stars created an unforgettable experience from gate time to close. Explosive daytime sets from acts such as Pell, Ekali, Lany, and Mondo Cozmo ensured that the party started with fierce enthusiasm. They set the tone for amazing sunset artists such as WhatSoNot, Waka Flocka Flame, Capital Cities, Cage the Elephant, Mandolin Orange, Cashmere Cat, Judah and the Lion, Sturgill Simpson, X Ambassadors, and PJ Harvey, among many other notable sets. Evening sets absolutely killed it with shows by GriZ, Run the Jewels, Phantogram, Spoon, Tycho, and Vince Staples.

Photo // Katelyn Gray Crutchfield

Forecastle knocked it out of the park with the headliners this year. ODESZA commanded the stage Friday night with one of their first sets since 2015. They played a beautiful mix of classic hits, new and unreleased material, and made it clear that they were ready to take back their crowns in the EDM fest scene after their hard work in the studio.  

Photo // Brian Hensley Photography

Saturday ended with a mind-melting LCD Soundsystem set. The indie-dance punk-electronica group delivered complex instrumentals and sexy layering, with soul-piercing vocals. Closing out the festival on Sunday was bucket-list band, Weezer. They threw a spectacular party with everyone’s favorite sing-along hits from their albums and included an unforgettable cover of Outkast’s “Hey-Ya.”

Photo // Brian Hensley Photography

From sights to sounds and everything in between, Forecastle is definitely a must-do for any music lover or fan of festivals. This event has orchestrated a truly memorable experience for attendees, and it’s easy to see why people return year after year. Thanks to Forecastle 2017 for hosting a five-year anniversary party that will live on in our hearts forever. See you next year!!!

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