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Crisis averted, Forecastle Festival barrels ahead

Scott Avett, Seth Avett, Joe Kwon and Tania Elizabeth sing “Ain’t No Man” to the Forecastle crowd. The first day of the 2016 Forecastle Festival was July 15, 2016 at Waterfront Park in Louisville, Ky.
Scott Avett, Seth Avett, Joe Kwon and Tania Elizabeth sing “Ain’t No Man” to the Forecastle crowd. The first day of the 2016 Forecastle Festival was July 15, 2016 at Waterfront Park in Louisville, Ky. rcopley@herald-leader.com

If you had, say, just rolled into the Forecastle Festival from Lexington – after sitting a spell in Louisville’s trademark late afternoon downtown traffic – you arrived just in time to get evacuated for what appeared to be an approaching storm.

It turned out to be barely a sprinkle that moved across Waterfront Park. But after the severe storms that ripped through the event site on opening day last year, it’s hard to blame festival directors for an abundance of caution – and to be fair, there were some ominous clouds in the sky and colorful blobs on the radar, just to the west of Louisville.

But once the fest got back into gear, the bands reclaimed the evening with verve.

Grouplove was first on the Mast Stage, the fest’s main venue, with frontwoman Hannah Hooper a gyrating force of neck-to-ankle leopard print and frontman Christian Zucconi bouncing between keys and sea blue guitar. And it was Grouplove’s crowd, as they sang along to every word of hits such as Itchin’ on a Photograph.

Later in the day, when Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and then The Avett Brothers came out, there were different crowds hanging on the rail, all totally tuned into their artists boundless performances. Harper took the stage we a raucous rendition of When Sex Was Dirty, and gave each of his extremely capable bandmates the spotlight.

Somehow, despite all their Rupp Arena appearances, I have missed the Avetts live. But shortly into their set, postponed an hour to 10:30 p.m. because of the delay, I got it. The group, led by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, attack what is essentially roots music with the verve and energy of P-Funk. Ain’t No Man was rife with electricity, even though it was just four singers accompanied by bass and drums.

I only got over to the Boom Stage for one act, Friday – Walter and I will do better today -- but it was a group very familiar to Lexingtonians after its multiple Cosmic Charlie’s appearances and two headlining slots at the Moontower Music Festival. Moon Taxi definitely has a crowd deeply enamored of its mesmerizing jams.

But the time they finished a lengthy rendition of Cabaret, the afternoon’s earlier events were long forgotten. Rain? What rain?

Rich Copley: 859-231-3217, @LexGoKY.

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