It's easy to pick out many themes with this weekend's Forecastle Festival. You can think of the orange and dark teal fish cartoons pasted on ads across the fest. You can think of the proud Louisville locals decked out in collegiate championship basketball gear. You can even think of the bourbon flowing from fans' commemorative mugs that seemed to appear in every corner. When I think of what Forecastle was like this weekend, I think of a phrase simply put by Joy Formidable lead singer Ritzy Bryan- "It's eclectic."
This year's Forecastle Festival showed off a broad-based lineup. Bluegrass bands like Old Crowe Medicine Show shined. Electronic artists like Boys Noize, Baauer, and GRiZ gathered thrilling crowds. Hot commodities of late like Alabama Shakes and Young the Giant showcased their sounds. Did I mention the Flaming Lips?
Though bundles of bands had impactful performances this weekend, a notable couple comes to mind. The Joy Formidable's early evening set ended up being one of the most enjoyable of the weekend. The trio from North Wales ended out their summer leg in the U.S. with an appreciated mix of new material and of their 2011 debut thriller, The Big Roar. Set list aside, the three promise an energetic show each and every time. Lead singer Ritzy Bryan did not let her fond flower spotted yellow dress fool anyone, as she thrashed through "Whirring" while pushing over amps. Even with lead guitarist Rhydian Davies' attempt to ignite the crowd by jabbing his head, it seemed as if most fans weren't quite up for the energy outburst that early. Those who were anticipating such a set were quite content afterwards.
Seeing a show on the oldest operating steamboat in the country likely served as a first for most. Eliot Lipp's after-show Friday night on the Belle of Louisville was an undeniable treat. The DJ, who is now featured on Pretty Lights' label, catered to lovers of his latest album, Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake. He additionally offered up fine trap renditions that kept the crowd constantly pleased. The stage setup allowed for fans to be within a few feet of Lipp as he commanded his equipment with ease.
As most fans commit time and energy to certain acts, surprisingly impressive sets come with great appreciation. This weekend's lineup it's fair share. The Pimps of Joytime served up a timeless set on Friday afternoon. It felt as if the Brooklyn based band's charisma could charm funk lovers of all ages. TOKiMONSTA captivated her crowd at the Ocean Stage underneath a highway overpass. I am intrigued to see if she climbs up near the ranks of her Brainfeeder label associates Flying Lotus and Thundercat, among others. Canadian DJ Ryan Hemsworth proved why he has been notched on numerous festival lineups this year. Hemsworth soothed his crowd with downtempo grooves on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
If you were looking for a pleasant set from Foxygen on Saturday afternoon, you were in for a twist. The Los Angeles based duo has received warm regards for their pyschadelic rock record We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Their normally collective sound was trumped by hard, directionless jamming and belligerent mumbles. Despite its intriguing appeal, this set ended up as the most disappointing on the weekend.