Music News & Reviews

10 essential acts to catch at Forecastle, from LCD to PJ to JD

Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz dove into the audience at the 2015 Forecastle Festival.
Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz dove into the audience at the 2015 Forecastle Festival.

Need an excuse to be in Louisville this weekend for Forecastle? How about 10 good reasons? This year’s festival will boast electronica, hip-hop, vintage soul, combustible rock ’n’ roll, and a helping of Kentucky-bred insurgent country. For a full performance schedule, go to

Here is just a taste of what Louisville will be rocking along the river over three days of Forecastle.


Odesza (10 p.m., Mast Stage)

The Seattle electronica duo made up of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight provided a sample of its current resurgence when it released the cinematically ambient “Line of Sight” as a single in April. Odesza will use its headlining set Friday night to preview the rest of its third album, “A Moment Apart,” which is due Sept. 8.

Run the Jewels (9 p.m.,Boom Stage)

Where do you begin with the hip-hop collective that unites EI-P and Killer Mike? Let’s start with “RTJ3,” the newest Run the Jewels album that became its first No. 1 entry on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Or maybe it’s the group’s collaboration with Danger Mouse and Big Boi on “Chase Me” from the hit “Baby Driver” soundtrack. My vote goes to RTJ’s riotous new Claymation video for “Don’t Get Captured.”

Cage the Elephant (7:45 p.m., Mast Stage)

After it royally stole the show on a 2009 concert bill at the now-defunct Buster’s from headliners Silversun Pickups and Manchester Orchestra, the performance reputation of this Bowling Green unit has skyrocketed. Singer Matt Schultz and company almost did the same thing when opening a 2014 KFC Yum Center show by the Black Keys.


LCD Soundsystem (9:30 p.m., Mast Stage)

What’s a breakup without a reunion, right? For rock/electronica favorite LCD Soundsystem, the plug was pulled — or so it seemed — in 2011 with a high-profile Madison Square Garden concert. By 2015, reunion rumors swelled until this year, when frontman and founder James Murphy reconvened the band for its album “American Dream” (also due in September).

Sturgill Simpson (7:15 p.m., Mast Stage)

Kentucky’s own Sturgill Simpson returns for his second Forecastle performance in three years as perhaps country music’s top renegade. The Jackson native and onetime Versailles and Lexington songsmith has made no secret of his displeasure with the Nashville norm. In an example of supreme irony, his 2016 recording “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” wound up winning a Grammy Award for best country album.

Kentucky native Sturgill Simpson played an early evening set at the 2015 Forecastle Festival. He returns to the festival this weekend for a main-stage set. Rich Copley

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (5:30 p.m., Mast Stage)

Mixing folk and pop smarts and vintage soul drive, Rateliff and the Night Sweats helped re-establish the classic Stax label with a self-titled 2015 album and a 2016 follow-up EP. More recently, Rateliff rubbed shoulders with greatness by playing alongside rock ’n’ roll forefather Chuck Berry on his first album in 38 years, the posthumously released “Chuck.”

JD McPherson (3:45 p.m, Mast Stage)

Oklahoma native McPherson shares much in common with Rateliff. Alhough less overtly retro-directed, the former possesses a scholarly understanding of roots rock, jump blues, and Nick Lowe-inspired pop along with considerable guitar command. It doesn’t hurt that he knows how to put all of this to work onstage with the help of an equally schooled band.


Weezer (9:15 p.m., Mast Stage)

Having helped define an entire pop generation more than two decades ago with the release of its triple-platinum-selling self-titled debut album, Weezer continues to plug along. There have been departures and prolonged breaks, but Rivers Cuomo and his cohorts are still roaring. Their 2016 album (Weezer’s fifth title-less effort) even snagged a Grammy nomination. You can bet that the band will play its latest single, “Feels Like Summer.”

PJ Harvey (7 p.m., Mast Stage)

Polly Jean Harvey seldom makes her way to Kentucky (her 2001 Derby Eve opening set for U2 at Rupp Arena being a grand exception). But the British songstress takes on the rest of the world with socially aware and incredibly rock-savvy works that place her in the company of such similar-minded titans as Patti Smith. Harvey’s newest album is 2016’s “The Hope Six Demolition Project.”

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires (3:30 p.m., Mast Stage)

This might prove to be the most uplifting set of the entire festival. Already an endearing funk and R&B revivalist whose career struggles and triumphs were chronicled in the documentary “Soul of America,” Bradley has recently been battling stomach cancer. Reviews of a June concert in Brooklyn, though, stated that he was in full, fighting form.

If you go

Forecastle Festival

What: Three-day music festival with multiple stages featuring Odesza, LCD Soundsystem, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Sturgill Simpson, P.J. Harvey and many more.

When: July 14-16

Where: Waterfront Park, 300 E. River Rd. in Louisville

Tickets: $69.50-$424.50

Call: 1-800-745-3000