Louisville, KY’s Forecastle Festival returned to Waterfront Park for its 20th anniversary on Friday-Sunday, May 27th-29th. After having the festival cancelled for two straight years due to the pandemic, the organizers of Forecastle made it very obvious that they were not messing around this year, and were going to make up for lost time. With headliners such as the hometown legend Jack Harlow, Tame Impala, Tyler, The Creator, and Phoebe Bridgers, there was no way to not have an amazing weekend.
Friday kicked off with performances from amazing artists such as Charlotte Sands and The Homies. Blue-haired, 25-year-old Charlotte Sands started the day on the Mast Stage, with performances of hits such as “Every Guy Ever”, “Dress”, and her recent release, “Out Of My Head”. After touring with The Maine and YUNGBLUD in the past year, Sands has definitely grown her audience incredibly, and will undoubtedly continue to. Many people in the crowd said that they had not heard of Sands until that day, but they left her set being a fan. Her stage presence was truly amazing and definitely made an impression on everyone in attendance.
Louisville’s own The Homies began the day on the Ocean Stage. The Homies are a rap/hip hop group consisting of five members: Ace Pro, Quiiso, Shloob, 2forwOyNE, and Ronnie Lucciano. They took to the stage in coordinated orange outfits, with the Instagram caption of the day saying, “Orange you glad you saw The Homies!”. They performed hits such as “Leaf Wraps”, “White Lies”, and ended with recent release, “Shake”.
Nashville-based alt/pop band COIN started at 6:45 to a sea of dedicated fans, who had waited at the Boom Stage all day just to see them. Fresh off of a UK/European tour with 5 Seconds of Summer and the release of their fifth album, Uncanny Valley, COIN has had a busy past few months, but that did not stop them from putting on an amazing performance. Their stage set-up was complete with grass and a giant inflatable ladybug, going hand-in-hand with the Uncanny Valley visuals and aesthetics.Opening with a tape of the first song from Uncanny Valley, “Learning”, and then entering straight into their hit “Chapstick”, it was obvious from the second that frontman Chase Lawrence took the stage, this was going to be an amazing set.
Even though they only had about an hour worth of a time slot to play, COIN did not waste any time and had fans screaming every lyric throughout their entire set. While they played newer songs such as “Brad Pitt” and “Take A Picture”, the band made sure not to forget about the fans who love their older music as well, throwing in fan-favorites “Growing Pains” and “Malibu 1992”. There was a fan in the first few rows of the crowd who had made a sign asking the band to play “Never Change”, a song from their 2020 album, Dreamland. Towards the end of their set, lead singer Chase Lawrence sang a few lines of “Never Change” at the end of “You Are The Traffic”, just for this fan, resulting in them crying and feeling beyond special. Ending with a cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” and their hit “Talk Too Much”, COIN’s set was nothing short of fun. Lawrence even ran through the barricades separating the crowd and stood on multiple parts of the barricade, singing “Talk Too Much” with the crowd.
Up next was 23-year-old Clairo, who took to the Mast Stage to perform her indie/alternative songs in the pouring down rain. The rain did not stop fans from showing up for Clairo though, as the grounds at Waterfront Park were completely packed for Clairo’s set, despite 80% of the crowd being in ponchos. Clairo herself eventually even needed a poncho, which she got from someone in the first few rows of the crowd. Her performance was completely beautiful, as her voice resonated throughout the sky, touching everyone in attendance. She played hit songs such as “Bags”, “Sofia”, and “Bambi”.
Soon enough, it was time for the most anticipated set of the day, hometown hero Jack Harlow. As the time neared 9:45, the crowd got more and more excited. Once the music finally started, screams erupted from all over Waterfront Park. Everyone heard Harlow’s voice, but he wasn’t on stage, and no one knew where he was. As fans searched frantically for a few seconds, gasps quickly erupted as they realized that he was quite literally on top of the Forecastle Mast Stage, a couple hundred feet in the air. Everyone began to pull out their phones to record, as Harlow sang “Talk Of The Town” on top of the main stage. After that song ended, he moved down to the actual stage and went straight into newly released hits, “Dua Lipa” and “Young Harleezy”.
Harlow played almost every song off of his recently released album, Come Home The Kids Miss You, and expressed his gratitude towards the audience for already knowing most of the words, just three weeks since the album had come out. Before performing “I’d Do Anything To Make You Smile”, Harlow explained how he imagined playing this song at festivals when writing it, then proceeded to ask the crowd to jump with him. It felt like the entire state of Kentucky was at the Forecastle Mast Stage that night, it was insane.
As someone who has grown up in Louisville and lives a mere 20 minutes from Atherton High School, where Harlow went, it has been crazy to watch his massive rise to fame. But there is one thing about Harlow, he has not forgotten where he came from. He came out on the stage wearing a Louisville basketball jersey along with a massive silver chain that had the shape of the state of Kentucky hanging from it. While he played a lot of songs from his new album, Harlow made sure not to forget older hits such as “WARSAW” and “THRU THE NIGHT”, which the Day One crowd absolutely loved.
There were tons of fans who flew in from other states just to see Harlow perform in Louisville. Many fans even lined up at Forecastle gates on Thursday night and slept on the streets just to get a front row barricade spot for Harlow’s set. As the night came to an end, he played some of his biggest hits, such as “Nail Tech”, “INDUSTRY BABY”, and “WHATS POPPIN”. Harlow expressed his gratitude for the fans many, many times, and even explained how crazy it was to him that he was headlining Forecastle, as he used to sneak into the festival just a few years back.
Right before saying goodbye, Harlow asked the crowd if they wanted to hear the #1 song in the nation, which caused a sea of screams to erupt as he began “First Class”. Red fireworks graced the sky towards the end of the song, creating a truly magical moment on Waterfront Park, as Harlow encouraged the crowd to never give up on their dreams, and reminded them that anything is possible.
Saturday kicked off with the amazing Chelsea Cutler, who brought all kinds of energy to the Mast Stage. Her set was a mix of happy, dance-worthy songs, and pieces that made you want to cry – both sad and happy tears. She played hits such as “Sad Tonight”, along with “you were good to me” and “this is how you fall in love”. Everyone was feeling the love during Cutler’s set. She even joked about how she had learned how to properly pronounce “Louisville” just for this festival, and she was one of the few artists who actually pronounced it correctly all weekend.
Up next was Quinn XCII, who brought a set to the Mast Stage that the audience absolutely loved. He had everyone jumping around with their hands in the air. He played songs such as “Coffee”, “Stacy”, and “Love Me Less”. About halfway through his set, he even brought his friend Chelsea Cutler back out on stage, and they performed a few songs together, such as their hit “Stay Next To Me”.
Crowds started to gather at the Mast Stage again as it neared 7:45. Right as it hit 7:45, the wonderful Phoebe Bridgers came on with her hit “Motion Sickness”. She played as the sun set over the Ohio River, creating a beautiful scene for Bridgers to perform her breathtaking songs for a crowd that sang almost every word back to her. She was very interactive with the crowd between songs, and even congratulated fans who held up a sign saying, “We Graduated Today!” She explained how she did not graduate high school, and barely got by with a 1.5 GPA, so she was extra proud of them for graduating.
Between hits such as “Kyoto”, “Punisher”, and “Scott Street”, Bridgers even brought her dog on stage, a black pug named Maxine. She pet the dog for a few minutes while explaining that it was her dog watcher’s birthday, and asked the crowd to wish her a happy birthday. About halfway through her set, she paused the music to give a speech on a topic that means a lot to her. “I had an abortion last year,” stated Bridgers, “Because I wanted to.” She proceeded to explain how she took this for granted at the time and that everyone should have this sort of access and freedom. She then listed off some good foundations to donate to, such as Mariposa Fund, The Lilith Fund, and Planned Parenthood.
Before starting “Chinese Satellite”, Bridgers explained how she wrote the song about walking through “really gross picket signs” before she had to do it herself. “I just walked by that happening and it really grossed me out, so I wrote a song about it”, stated Bridgers. She went on with other hit songs such as “Graceland Too”, ”ICU”, and recent release, “Sidelines” (QRO review). As the end of her set neared, she began playing the opening notes to “I Know The End”, as a fire appeared on the screen behind her with a small sigh stating “The End Is Near”. This was truly an amazing ending to her set, as it ended with Bridgers and the entire crowd screaming at the top of their lungs in a very cathartic moment. Watching her perform during the sunset hour was truly breathtaking. She brought such an ethereal feeling to Waterfront Park and it was quite magical.
Soon enough it was time for Saturday’s main headliner, Tame Impala. People crowded towards the stage as the time neared 9:45. A sea of screams erupted when the lights on the stage finally went down and a video appeared on the screen. This video was advertising Tame Impala’s made-up drug, Rushium. According to the introductory video, this drug has the power to mark and alter time perception. As the video started to get drawn out to show time slowing down, it eventually faded to black as the band entered the stage and began playing “One More Year”. Tame Impala had the crowd dancing, jumping, and completely just vibing out all night long. As they played hits such as “Borderline”, “Breathe Deeper”, and “Elephant”, the audience loved every second of it.
Tame Impala’s production/light show is simply one of the best out there right now. It was completely beautiful and breathtaking. There were so many different colored lasers shining all throughout the crowd all night and all kinds of colored lights flashed across the stage throughout their entire performance. There was simply never a dull moment. The band even had confetti about halfway through their set, which was so beautiful as it mixed with the lasers and colored lights. Everyone was reaching to the sky trying to grab a singular piece of confetti to keep with them as a souvenir for this amazing night. During their last song, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”, there was more confetti, not just once, but twice! The confetti and lights created such a beautiful scene on Louisville’s Waterfront. Everyone left Tame Impala’s set joyful, amazed, and covered in confetti. Once their set ended, one of the stage hands even brought out a blower and blew out wrapped up setlists to waiting fans, who were all ecstatic to catch one! Overall, Saturday was a magical day in Louisville.
On Sunday, the final day of Forecastle 2022, was KennyHoopla at the Boom Stage. It is pretty safe to say that KennyHoopla’s energy is simply unmatched. After running out on stage after the crowd started changing “Kenny” over and over, once KennyHoopla got started, there was nothing stopping him. The crowd was loving every second of his set, as he played songs such as “smoke break//”, “hollywood sucks//”, and “DIRTY WHITE VANS//”. Almost everyone in the crowd for his set was jumping up and down to every song, and fans even started a mosh pit, which Kenny hopped off the stage and climbed into the crowd to join in while he sang.
Shortly after finishing up moshing with the crowd, he began crowd surfing, which the fans loved. Kenny put on such a high energy set, on the hottest day of Forecastle at that. Even with temperatures in the 80’s and the sun blaring down in Louisville, this did not stop Kenny or his fans from giving it their all. During his last song, “estella//”, Kenny even ran down the barricades separating the crowds, touching hands with as many fans as possible before ending his set. Definitely one of the highest energy sets of the weekend!
Up next was 28 year old pop singer, FLETCHER. Many dedicated fans had gone straight to the Boom Stage once gates opened on Sunday just to wait to be close for FLETCHER’s set. Some had even flown in from other states just to see her play! The singer ran onto stage and opened her set with her hit song “girls girls girls”, right before the start of pride month. FLETCHER’s energy was so high and every song was just so dance-worthy, she had the crowd dancing and singing during her entire set. She went on to play other hits such as “Cherry”, “Forever”, and “If You’re Gonna Lie” before getting into her breakout hit, “Undrunk”. Throughout almost the entire set, FLETCHER was smiling ear to ear. It was so easy to see that she was made to do this, and she loves every second of it.
Towards the end of her performance, before going into “Healing”, FLETCHER actually revealed that she used to have really bad performance anxiety and fear of performing on stages in front of big crowds of people, which was very shocking since she makes it look so easy now. Before beginning “Healing”, she proceeded to explain that being able to perform in front of an audience again has helped her heal tremendously. She ended with her hit “Bitter”, which had everyone singing and jumping, and she even ran down the barricades separating the crowds, touching hands with fans. FLETCHER’s set was beautiful and so dance-worthy, definitely another one of my favorites from the weekend. After her set, she even went out into the crowd and met a bunch of fans, taking the time to speak with and listen to each and every one of them.
Dayglow took to the Boom Stage next, walking out onto the stage as a message appeared on the screen behind them, stating, “Dayglow is playing live music right now”. Fans packed as the band began their set with hits such as “Medicine” and “Something”. Frontman Sloan Struble had so much energy and it resonated throughout the crowd, creating a set where everyone was dancing, singing, and jumping during almost every song. Fans were especially excited during hits such as “Hot Rod” and “Can I Call You Tonight?” There was so much energy at the Boom Stage during Dayglow’s set that a llama piñata even made an appearance, travelling throughout the crowd as the band played.
Meanwhile, Black Pumas on the Mast Stage were very down to earth and personable. Lead singer Eric Burton had the crowd clapping numerous times and even performed while walking down the barricades that separated the crowd, grabbing hands of fans and singing to them personally. Black Pumas’ set was a beautiful sight to see, as they were playing beautiful hits such as “Next To You”, “Fire”, and their smash hit “Colors” right as the sun was setting over the Ohio River.
And just like that, it was time for the final headliner and performance of Forecastle 2022, Tyler, The Creator. A beautiful firework display took place over Louisville just before Tyler took to the stage, putting a lovely bow on the weekend as it wrapped up in Louisville. Many fans had camped out at the Mast Stage for 12+ hours on Sunday just to be up close for Tyler’s set, so they were nothing short of ecstatic once his set finally began.
Tyler Okonma, better known by stage-name Tyler, The Creator, took to Forecastle’s Mast Stage right around 9:45pm. He slowly entered the faux-grass hill covered stage wearing a coat, sunglasses, hiking backpack, and using a cane. The crowd went crazy as he got to the top of the hill and began taking off his “hiking gear” and started performing his smash hit “CORSO”. Tyler’s energy was insane once he entered the stage, but his and the crowd’s energies only went up from there. After “CORSO”, he went straight into other hits such as “LEMONHEAD” and “WUSYANAME”, which the crowd went crazy for. He had everyone jumping and singing every word back to him.
After the first few songs, Tyler admitted that he was slightly worried about tonight and wasn’t sure how it would go, not because he didn’t know what he was doing, he explained that he knew he would put on a good show, he just wasn’t sure if anyone would like it or know the words since he had never performed in Louisville before. He continued to explain that the crowd had quickly proven to him that he did not need to worry, as they knew almost every word to every song. Sparks and pyro graced the stage throughout a good portion of Tyler’s set, creating an even better energy for the set. His dance moves and extremely high energy definitely did not go unnoticed, Tyler put on a heck of a performance. His visuals were also amazing, he is a very good performer and storyteller. He played many hits from his most recent release, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, but he also threw it back and played some older songs from his 2017 album, Flower Boy, such as “See You Again”, “Who Dat Boy”, and “911”. As the night came to a close, he played more recent hits such as “EARFQUAKE” and “NEW MAGIC WAND” before ending with “RUNITUP”, which had everyone in the crowd jumping and singing.
Forecastle 2022 was a magical weekend in Louisville’s Waterfront Park. There were so many amazing performances by wonderful artists, but that was not all that Forecastle had to offer. There were also many, many different wonderful food offerings, such as Fistful of Tacos, Happy Belly Bistro, and Island Noodles. The Forecastle hot dogs and corn dogs are always the talk of the town though, and they never disappoint. Alongside performing artists, there were also artists doing live mural paintings in Waterfront Park, all of which were beautiful. Forecastle’s “activism” aspect also never disappoints, this year the Forecastle Foundation was raising money to support and protect local parks. There were also all kinds of craft vendors selling beautiful pieces, such as “Tristi Designs”, “Bioglitz”, and “Revelry Boutique Gallery”. Overall, the last weekend in May was an amazing weekend in Louisville, full of wonderful memories for everyone in attendance. We can’t wait for next year!