Nestled somewhere between southern hospitality and midwest sensibility is Louisville, KY. A charming city that boasts great eats, smiling faces, talented artists, the Louisville Slugger, and the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is already a place worth visiting which makes it a great home for Forecastle Festival every July. Forecastle – a festival that boasts Music • Art • Activism® – both surprised and impressed me by how dedicated they were to honoring their tagline.
Year after year Forecastle presents one of the strongest festival lineups – with set times long enough to keep you from running around all day causing you to miss your favorite song or forcing you to choose between two artists you love. The festival consistently boasts current, award-winning artists and up-and-coming talent that will never disappoint. Where else can you watch a set under a highway while eating artisan macaroni and cheese?
One of the highlights of Forecastle is their Kentucky Landing – an area that features Kentucky based breweries, regional eateries, and local artists. The Kentucky craft beer bar featured five regional brewers, local food trucks were a stand-out, and the Buy Local Blvd with its handcrafted gifts made passing the time between sets a treat and gave you the chance to experience the local scene while on a vacation that usually doesn’t spare much extra time.
Activism truly is the heart of Forecastle Fest. The festival is powered through a partnership with a clean energy provider – replacing every kWh used with a kWh produced through a renewable source. REVERB, an environmental nonprofit, sold reusable water bottles – donating 100% of the money raised back into the non-profit efforts of The Forecastle Foundation and REVERB. The festival also partnered with Clean Vibes, an event waste and recycling service. Clean Vibes offers recycling, compost, and waste bins – which they go through to further separate before emptying. Clean Vibes Trading Post trades bags of recycling from patrons for swag and each year the trading post collects nearly 100 bags of recycling. Year after year the festival diverts 70% of its waste from landfills, replenishes its electric use and educates on the importance of sustainability and giving.
While talent is one of the biggest parts to a good music festival, it is also vital to feel accommodated for and safe. This festival earns major points on accessibility, affordability, and safety. Located downtown on the riverfront there is plenty of cheap, available parking for those who choose to drive instead of grabbing an Uber. Within walking distance there are gas stations to load up on necessities, local eats if you decide to wander instead of grabbing a bite at the curated food trucks, and stores to peruse and window shop. There are also a plethora of affordable hotel options that are close to the grounds. Uniformed officers were constantly walking through the fest and when trouble arose they were on it before you could bat an eye and feel discomfort. In a time where being in large groups can feel tense - especially if you’re as anxious as I am - this was the most important feature of the weekend.
A good music festival is like no other experience. Whether you’re on the rail bonding about your love for an artist and past performances you’ve seen, dancing with your person or people to a band you’ve admired half your life (looking at you, Arcade Fire), walking across the lawn crying and singing along to Jimmy Eat World’s “Hear You Me” with a huge grin on your face (sorry not sorry), or FaceTiming your mom to share Chris Stapleton's set because she’s just as big a fan as you are the memories made are ones that will last a lifetime. It’s during those moments that you realize though sometimes life is harsh, and in the current climate it can be quite scary, every second is important.
Laura is a native St. Louisan living in Austin and giving you the front row view by photographing your favorite artists.