Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: It's A Brave New World (Forecastle 2018 Day 1)

To brag about our little news grinder a little bit; 37FLOOD has the distinction of being the longest running independent media outlet to cover Forecastle, since our inception in 2007, and we have seen it change immensely over the years. And this year has some of the biggest (if not immediately noticeable) changes to date.

4pm at Party Cove
The layout for the last several years has included 3 stages settled on the northern edge of the park, the Boom (northwest), The Mast (due north), and the Port Stage (northeast); with the Ocean stage, nestled under the I-64 Overpass, and Party Cove on the Eastern side of the Park.   When Forecastle first moved to the Great Lawn the eastern edge of the park held a stage exclusively for local artists (called the Bluegrass Catastrophe) but after a few years was replaced by the WFPK Port Stage showcasing 'AAA' format bands to a large outcry from fans of local music and local bands alike.  

After a while the 'Party Cove' was added between the Ocean Stage (primarily reserved for hip hop and electronic acts) and the WFPK Port stage to accommodate the young EDM Coachella Juniors covered in glitter. This seemed like a great idea, a way to entertain the under 20 crowd as well as separate the more Molly oriented behavior from the older and family related crowd. 

Many complained that that Forecastle was going too far into the mainstream 'Festival' Culture and no longer represented the city. This change coincided with AC Entertainment, management company for Bonnaroo, taking over the management reins. It's true Forecastle became a mirror of the other regional fests, with the same headliners as Bonnaroo and an almost complete drop of the 'Art and Activism' moniker it began with. 

But time moves on and Fests in general have changed; the music has taken a back seat to festival culture; many people go to fests now to become engulfed in glitter, wild clothing, and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) as well as MDMA.

5pm: The Great Empty Lawn

At a broiling 92 degrees, a good 5 degrees lower than tomorrow's forecast, Forecastle 2018 got rolling at 2:30pm on Louisville's Great Lawn on Friday July 13th. Despite long lines at the gate for entry, by 5pm the Great Lawn in front of the main stage, called the Mast, was virtually empty. 
By contrast Party Cove was packed despite the oppressive heat.
5pm at Party Cove

This might be why this year Forecastle decided to shrink the WFPK Port stage by 2/3s and move it from the northeast edge of the park to as far away as possible in the southwestern edge of the park, expanding Party Cove by 2/3s. Ocean stage as also been incorporated to Party Cove, with more EDM bands on that stage while sharing more Hip Hop acts on the Party Cove Boat.
Party Cove Stage (Boat).

There was noticeable shock by some long time fest goers at the take over of the EDM crowd and the shrinkage of the WFPK Port stage, but in a complete act of correcting past mistakes the WFPK Port Stage is now 100% Louisville Acts, and curated entirely by Louisville Orchestra Conductor Teddy Abrams.  
Flagship on the Ocean Stage

Ocean Stage crowd for Flagship
Bernie & Hickory Bond at WFPK Port Stage

Louisville Orchestra Conductor Teddy Abrams

Crowd at WFPK Port Stage to see Louisville Leopard Percussionists
 Speaking to 37FLOOD on Friday Abrams said before his Jazz/Funk performance he welcomed the change, mentioning that the smaller stage and addition of picnic tables gave the Port Stage a more family friendly atmosphere. And it seems to be right move, as at 4:30 pm the entire festival grounds were completely empty except Party Cove and the Port Stage to witness the Louisville Leopard Percussionists.
WFPK's Meg Samples introducing the Louisville Leopard Percussionists

Like it or not, it's a changing world, and Festivals are changing, fueled by corporate bottom lines and big money sponsors. The largest crowds on friday were concentrated at the Ocean Stage/Party Cove area on the eastern side of the park, only slightly giving way at 10:30 for Modest Mouse on the Mast Stage, and possibly the most well known act of Friday. The M.O. of larger fests over the last few years has been to stack the deck with a multitude of EDM DJs and groups and topping the night off with older established groups like Flaming Lips, Beck, Jack White, and Modest Mouse, forgoing mid-level newer groups in lieu of cheaper methods of entertainment (EDM for the MDMA crowd).  

Louis The Child EDM Explosion

10 pm: Louis The Child 

Modest Mouse

Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse

While Friday may be the lightest day in terms of well known and traditional pop groups, the crowds at Forecastle 2018 far preferred the party atmosphere exported from Coachella and expanding across the country, and thus it makes sense to reorganize Forecastle accordingly, regardless of older loyal Forecastle goers wishes. 
Saturday promises more traditional attractions like Houndmouth (Main Stage7:45pm), Chris Stapleton (Mast Stage 10pm), Margo Price (Boom Stage 5:30), Jenny Lewis (Boom Stage 7:15), and Hiss Golden Messenger (Boom Stage 4pm), with more creative electronica like the West Louisville Showcase (Port Stage 6:25 ),  James Lindsey & Vane (Party Cove 8pm), and the ghost of Freaknik himself T-Pain (Ocean Stage 9pm) 
And that was Day One!

Read our Day Two Review, It's The End Of The World, here. 

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