The Forecastle Festival offers up a virtual fire hydrant of music over the coming weekend at Louisville's Waterfront Park — and judging by the weather forecast, you may just want someone to open up a fire hydrant to cool off.
Five stages and dozens of bands is a lot to keep up with, but here are four essential acts to catch each day. For a complete performance schedule of the acts appearing on all five festival stages, go to forecastlefest.com/schedule or, if you are going, download the very helpful Forecastle Festival app.
Modest Mouse (Mast Stage, 10:15 p.m.) Never one to rush a project, Modest Mouse spent eight years coming up with the hour-long opus of textured rock mischief, chamber-style rock ‘n’ roll and suitably obtuse dance grooves that made up 2015’s “Strangers to Ourselves” album. Here we are, three years later, and no further follow-up in is sight.
Father John Misty (Mast Stage, 8 p.m.) A songwriter full of candor, reflection and wit, the artist now known as Father John Misty (but who has also recorded extensively under his real name, J. Tillman) creates new musical fabrics out of bits of folk and post-psychedelic pop. He released his new “God’s Favorite Customer” album in June.
Vance Joy (Boom Stage, 9:30 p.m.) How does a young Aussie songsmith make himself known in the Bluegrass? Easy: he snags a gig opening at a 2015 Rupp Arena show for Taylor Swift. Think that’s not a big deal? The guy who opened for Swift at Rupp in 2013 was Ed Sheeran. Joy’s newest pop-folk album, “Nation of Two,” came out in February.
I’m With Her (Boom Stage, 3:45 p.m.) Here’s one worth getting to Forecastle early for: an afternoon session with the folk collective of Sarah Jarosz (a veteran of the 2013 and 2016 Forecastles), Sara Watkins (who played the fest with Nickel Creek in 2014) and Aoife O’Donovan. The trio’s splendid “See You Around” also hit stores in February.
Chris Stapleton (Mast Stage, 10 p.m.) Well, this is what you call a homecoming. With a Rupp Arena debut awaiting in October, the Lexington-born, Paintsville-raised Stapleton returns to Forecastle (he last played there in 2015) to showcase the traditionally inclined country and soul tunes making up the two-volume 2017 “From A Room” albums.
The War on Drugs (Boom Stage, 9:15 p.m.) Here’s another 2015 Forecastle returnee. Having served up metronomic ‘80s cool three summers ago, the Philadelphia-based The War on Drugs returned with more psychedelic slanted tunes for 2017’s “A Deeper Understanding.” Curiously, War on Drugs alum Kurt Vile plays Forecastle on Friday.
Houndmouth (Mast Stage, 7:45 p.m.) Glance just past the Forecastle stage Houndmouth will be playing on Saturday and you will catch a glimpse of the band’s New Albany, Indiana hometown. Following the April 2016 departure of keyboardist and vocalist Katie Toupin, Houndmouth will release its pop-savvy third album, “Golden Age,” in August.
Margo Price (Boom Stage, 5:30 p.m.) Having sold out Louisville’s Headliners Music Hall as recently as January, country upstart Margo Price returns to clue Forecastle in on her scorched family chronicles and wonderfully weathered honky tonk tunes. Price released her brilliant sophomore album, “All American Made,” last October.
Arcade Fire (Mast Stage, 9:10 p.m.) What a coincidence. In 2007, Arcade Fire played the very Waterfront Park grounds that are now home to Forecastle. Also on that bill was LCD Soundsystem, which was a Forecastle headliner last year. Win Butler and company issued their most recent album, “Everything Now,” this time last year.
Courtney Barnett (Boom Stage, 8:30 p.m.) Listening to the weary, plaintive but distinctly homemade-sounding music of this Aussie native is like stepping back in time 25 years to the post-grunge era that gave rise to what we now view as indie rock. Barnett’s new album, “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” came out in May.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Mast Stage, 7:15 p.m.) With wife Amanda Shires playingthe Master Musicians Festival in Somerset on Saturday, Isbell heads to Forecastle with his Americana rich 400 Unit band to prove they are one of the most dependable live acts anywhere. A new concert album, “Live at the Ryman,” is due out in October.
Punch Brothers (Boom Stage, 6:45 p.m.) Now that “Live From Here” is on summerbreak, Chris Thile is back with the progressive string band he fronted long before he became public radio’s Saturday night celeb. Punch Brothers’ Forecastle set will preface the release of the band’s new “All Ashore” album next week.
IF YOU GO
When: Gates open 2 p.m. July 13, 1:30 p.m. July 14, 1 p.m. July 15
Where: Waterfront Park, 401 River Road, Louisville