Raise Your Voice: Warped Tour 2018 Review and Photo Gallery

Walking through the crowded grounds of Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana, on a hot July day, it’s nearly impossible not to reflect on Warped Tours past. It was here, nine years ago, where I baked in the sun watching bands like Saosin, Underoath, and Chiodos while screaming along to every word. A year prior in Cincinnati, I stood on the main stage watching Norma Jean bring down the house before singing along to The Academy Is, Anberlin, and Cobra Starship.

Over the years, the Vans Warped Tour is where I met some amazing friends, discovered some of my favorite bands, and truly felt part of a community for one of the first times in my life. As the longest-running touring music festival in North America comes to a close, I’ve felt it necessary to remember those experiences while acknowledging that the experiences have others have not always been so pleasant. For a myriad of reasons, it is time for Warped Tour to end.

There were things to feel good about and music to be excited about during this final trek, yet the staggering lack of gender and racial diversity across the lineup served as a reminder of why it must come to a close. With any luck, whatever takes its place will provide a more balanced and honest view of the underground music scene in years to come.

For now, we take a look at a few of the bands on the 2018 Vans Warped Tour that made some noise and made the tour’s final run worth the price of admission. Take a look below and feel free to share some of your favorites from the lineup in the replies!

Mayday Parade

For a band that made a name for itself by following Warped Tour around the country in 2006, selling CDs to those standing in line, it’s appropriate that Mayday Parade take part in the festival’s final journey. The band has come a long way since those early days, having just released their sixth studio album, Sunnyland, earlier this summer. Per usual, Derek Sanders bounded across the main stage singing fan favorites like “Jamie All Over” and “Jersey”, making for the perfect summer sing-a-long session.

Check out our podcast interview with Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade!

Mayday Parade

As It Is

The band’s second stint on Warped Tour has brought a new sound and a new look. Making light of the obvious changes in between songs, vocalist Patty Walters introduces the band as “My Chemical Romance.” Even if As It Is haven’t quite hit the heights of the aforementioned emo legends, the early signs from upcoming album The Great Depression seem to be promising. From “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” to “The Wounded World”, these new tracks sound even better live than on tape.

As It Is

Doll Skin

While watching Phoenix, Arizona, rockers Doll Skin tear through their set, I was reminded of watching letlive. just a few years prior. The band harness the same amount of energy and passion in their performance, with vocalist Sydney Dolezal even climbing into the crowd mid-song to unleash her powerful scream. For as exciting as the band’s set was, it was disappointing to find it on a side stage. This is the kind of band deserving of the biggest platform available.

Doll Skin

Real Friends

Real Friends feels like our best current example of what it’s like to watch a band grow up on Warped Tour. Having just released their third full-length album, Composure, the band’s main stage set was one of the highlights of the day. Dan Lambton’s energy, even this late into the grueling tour, provided a spark for the crowd as he lit into “Get By” to kick off the band’s set. Having put together the best album of their career, it will be exciting to see where they go next.

Real Friends

Issues

Tyler Carter has the kind of voice that you have to hear to believe. Even when taking on an early set on a hot day late in the tour, Carter still manages to croon his way through eight songs at full tilt. The band, now a four piece, is in the process of putting together their third album, this time minus Michael Bohn. Nevertheless, Carter handled both sides of the vocals beautifully throughout the band’s set, with help from Adrian Rebollo.

Issues

Waterparks

It feels like the stock for Houston pop punk powerhouse Waterparks just keeps rising. With the release of Entertainment earlier this year, the band has cemented their stay as one of the genre’s hottest acts and have ascended to Warped Tour’s main stage. Awsten Knight carries the band’s vocal duties and helps wake up the morning crowd with performances of “Blonde”, “Take Her to the Moon”, and more.

Waterparks

This Wild Life

While standing at the front of the stage to shoot This Wild Life’s gentle set, I couldn’t help but feel good for the security guards, finally relieved of flying bodies and crowd surfers for 30 minutes. The Long Beach duo’s quiet set is the perfect intermission for a day of loud noises, especially as their catalogue of songs continues to grow. The band performs tracks from their new album, Petaluma, while still finding time to throw in some oldies like “History” and “Concrete”.

This Wild Life

Frank Turner

Yes, THAT Frank Turner took the stage for a few Warped Tour dates this year. Each year on the tour, there are always a few surprises on the lineup that should be labeled required viewing. The English folk singer took to the main stage for an eight-song set that felt all too short, while still providing plenty of moments for sing-a-longs and even a few laughs. His closing performance of “Get Better” proved to be one of the highlights of the day.

Frank Turner

Senses Fail

One final run of Warped Tour just wouldn’t feel right without one of the screamo scene’s old guard in tow, and Senses Fail make for the perfect choice. Over 15 years in, vocalist Buddy Nielsen is still a sight to behold on stage, whether he’s playing old standards like “Bite to Break Skin” and “Calling All Cars” or even a few cover songs. The band’s latest release, If There is Light, It Will Find You, is one of the most underrated albums so far in 2018, and the band’s Warped set proves to be a reminder that Senses Fail still have plenty of life left.

Senses Fail

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Warped Tour Announces its Final Cross-Country Run in 2018

Vans Warped Tour, a summer staple for the scene, is preparing for its final cross-country trek in 2018. According to Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, “I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour, and today with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that the last full cross-country run will take place in 2018.”

Warped Tour has served as a springboard for bands into the spotlight throughout the years and provided a common ground for alternative music and culture, although recent years have revealed deep issues related to sexual harassment and abuse amongst certain bands on the tour. We’ll share more details as they come, but in the meantime, you can view 2018 dates here and read the full statement from Lyman below.

“I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour. Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. I sit here reflecting on the tour’s incredible history, what the final run means for our community, and look forward to what’s to come as we commemorate the tour’s historic 25th anniversary in 2019.

In 1995, I had already worked many years in the music business, including spending four summers on the Lollapalooza tour, and I thought, ‘for one summer I would like go out and put on my own show’ mixing music and action sports. With the support of so many people, I have now spent the last 23 summers bringing that show to a city near you. We have brought that show to over 11 million people around the world and watched that same world change while doing so.

I have been proud to work with so many artists who have grown to be some of the largest stars in the world. Countless bands have played in hot parking lots and through summer storms for you at some point.

Bands like Quicksand, Sublime, L7, No Use for A Name and No Doubt jumped on in the very first year.

Touring many summers with my friends and peers like – Pennywise, Social Distortion, NOFX, Bad Religion, The Descendents, Less Than Jake, Dropkick Murphy’s, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Flogging Molly, Anti-Flag and The Offspring are just some of my fondest memories. More include, having Blink-182 travel on my bus in 1997 when the world opened up to them and made them the superstars they are today.

The Vans Warped Tour was the platform to witness the rise of pop punk with Sum 41, Simple Plan, MXPX, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte.

The birth of Emo – with bands like Thrice, Thursday, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack and Jimmy Eat World.

Fast-forward to the summer in 2005 when TRL and Warped Tour helped launch the careers of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold.

I witnessed Warped alumni like The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, No Doubt and even Kid Rock play the Super Bowl. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing Green Day play the Rose Bowl.

More recently, I’ve watched bands start out on a small stage and work their way up to the main stages by meeting as many fans as possible and continuing to hone their craft while on the tour. Bands like Paramore, A Day To Remember, Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce The Veil, Echosmith, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, Every Time I Die, Neck Deep, Beartooth and so many more.

What has always made me proud was when I read that Warped was the most diverse show of the summer where you could find Eminem and Ice-T on the same stages as Sevendust, Pennywise, and 7 Seconds.

I am so grateful to have worked with more than 1,700 bands over the last 23 summers. I wish I could thank every band that has played the tour.

The Vans Warped Tour has become the community I had always hoped for. We have worked with over 90 non-profits each summer shining a light on new and growing groups giving our community the resources they need to connect with people who can help them, but also encourages our community to help each other. To Write Love on Her Arms, Music Saves Lives, Feed The Children Now, Keep a Breast, Hope For The Day, Canvas Foundation, Living The Dream and A Voice for the Innocent have built their organizations from the Warped Tour parking lots across the country. This even inspired me to start my own foundation Unite the United.

The work we do each summer on “give back days” has become part of our DNA. My brain is etched with the image of the church ladies after Katrina serving beans and rice to The Casualties with their upright mohawks, finding a common ground where no one was judging anyone. Then finding out the only working business in the county seemed to be the moonshine still and the locals showing up with a crate to share with the crew later that evening.

The long hot days that ended around a BBQ with food, drink and more music are some of the best times. Enjoying the days off, taking people jet boating, house boating, river rafting and sometimes even skydiving. I witnessed lifelong friendships being made, sparks of romance that led to ‘Warped weddings,’ and unfortunately now, more notices of passings where a proper good bye was not able to be said.

I want to thank my supportive family who has been through the highs and lows, Darryl Eaton at CAA, Steve Van Doren and Vans, Kate, Julie, Allison and Steph. My hard ass working crew who puts that show up and down each day, the sponsors which without them this tour would not happen, the bands and their crews, the promoters who took a risk on us at the beginning and continue to be supportive.

It will be bittersweet each morning when I see the sun rise and then watch it set knowing that this will be the last time I get to witness it from that exact spot.

Though the tour and the world have changed since ’95, the same feeling of having the ‘best summer ever’ will live on through the bands, the production teams, and the fans that come through at every stop.

The enduring spirit of the Vans Warped Tour remains as bright as ever, continuing to inspire creativity and ambition in new and exciting ways as we prepare for a 25th anniversary celebration in 2019.

I truly look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during this final cross country run, and getting to thank you for your support on this wild adventure. Until then, take care and be safe.” – Kevin Lyman (Founder of the Vans Warped Tour)

Posted by Kiel Hauck

It’s All Dead Podcast Episode: 016 – Riot Fest Preview

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Riot Fest takes place this weekend at Douglas Park in Chicago! Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz break down their most anticipated sets for each day of the festival and share their mutual love for one of the best music experiences in the country. They also discuss No Closer to Heaven – the latest release from The Wonder Years. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Who are you excited to see this year at Riot Fest? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Eaux Claires Festival a Celebration of Art, Nature and Friendship

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Justin Vernon, Sufjan Stevens and their Midwest friends shine at inaugural festival.

 

When Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner announced their plans for a music and art festival, they were quite clear in what they wanted. Something different; a festival with unique feel—an event bringing people together in the woods to watch art happen. Purposely set July 17 and 18 (the same weekend as Pitchfork), Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival promised to, according to Vernon, “infiltrate the idea of a festival with new ideas.”

Friendships were forged as campers sweated in the same 90-degree sun.

Friendships were forged as campers sweated in the same 90-degree sun.

New ideas arise from inspiration, and Vernon invited his artist friends from the upper Midwest, along with 22,000 supporters, to the woodlands where For Emma, Forever Ago was famously written and the legend was born. Festivalgoers walked down a half-mile wooded path to a small clearing in the arms of the Chippewa River. It was a return to nature; “a benediction,” as festival emcee Michael Perry put it. All weekend, every artist reiterated Eaux Claires was about music and nature.

People weren’t here to take selfies—I felt awkward every time I checked my phone. And there was little need for technology. Every person received a yellow field journal with event times, artist bios and a map of the grounds. We weren’t bombarded with corporate advertising. Everything was local (we drank Summit Brewing beers instead of Miller Lite). No spinning a wheel for a drawstring bag, no credit card signups. Instead of a cacophony of logos and competing brands, everything fit under creative director Michael Brown’s unified aesthetic of simple and clean black and white. Nature filled in the rest.

The sun set both nights over the Chippewa River, casting a wave of orange gold over the grounds and into the forest canopy. Friday night began with The Tallest Man on Earth and ended with Dessner’s The National, with Sufjan Stevens and Vernon joining for songs.

Eaux Claires was a very come-as-you-are gathering.

Eaux Claires was a very come-as-you-are gathering.

It was Vernon’s festival but Sufjan stole the show with a set that encapsulated everything the two-day festival had to offer, playing his ukulele as much as his synthesizer, while combining film and lighting to share vignettes about his life and childhood. The set began with a foggy wall of synth and feedback, which had fans waiting in anticipation: How would he balance his darkest, most personal album, Carrie & Lowell, with the swaying summer crowd? He did it by being honest, diving right into the acoustic opener “Death With Dignity”, and then admitting he was very nervous and doesn’t play festivals because he is “agoraphobic and terrified of contracting lyme disease or an STD or whatever.”

It was a statement of courage rather than a begging for sympathy, and every lyric landed with the heavy feeling he was getting something off his chest. The crowd even cheered him back to life after he forgot the lyrics to “Casimir Pulaski Day”, then sang the outro with him: “Da da da, da da da da”. And, in a special way, the whole weekend could be summarized in that moment of acceptance, celebration and friendship.

There was no Miller Lite to be found at Eaux Claires.

There was no Miller Lite to be found at Eaux Claires.

“If you don’t have friendship, you don’t have anything,” Vernon told the crowd at the beginning of his set to close the festival. Friendships were forged as campers sweated in the same 90-degree sun, braved 2 a.m. tornado sirens, rain and lightening, and shared coffee the next morning as Vernon sound checked for Bon Iver. It was a very come-as-you-are gathering – no need for festival cosplay: a mixture of man buns and jean cut-offs, farmer’s tans, sundresses and t-shirts. Of young and of old. No screaming, no getting tanked, no bumping and shoving. No matter who you were, you were there for music.

The Lake Eaux Lane stage and Flambeaux stage took turns filling the grounds with sound. No one needed to push their way through the middle of sets to get a spot for the next act. After Sufjan Stevens finished playing, everyone simply turned around to hear Bon Iver on the Lake Eaux Lune stage. Vernon thanked everyone for “making the right choice,” but thanks go out to every artist and the beautiful city of Eau Claires for making the choice so easy.

by Kevin Sterne

kevin-headshotKevin Sterne is a writer, blogger and journalist with a passion for music, art and new ideas. He’s currently earning an MA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. For more of his work, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Waves of Change: Why Warped Tour Still Matters

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It’s that special time of year again. As winter turns to spring, lineup announcements for Warped Tour, the country’s largest traveling music festival, begin to trickle in. With these announcements comes a tradition unlike any other – bellyaching about how much Warped Tour sucks.

If you haven’t heard yet, “this is the worst lineup in years – Warped Tour has officially sold out. No one would ever pay money to see these bands. The lineup used to be so much better.”

As a longtime supporter of this scene, and more specifically, Warped Tour itself, I can’t remember a time when comment threads and timelines weren’t filled with similar proclamations. At this point, complaints are an almost obligatory part of the process.

The irony of these “the sky is falling” declarations lies in the tour’s success. Even when the late-2000s economic crisis threatened to cripple ticket sales for tours of all shapes and sizes, Warped Tour weathered the storm. In fact, all signs point to consistently high attendance across all dates, with recent expansions into Europe and Australia

So what’s the big deal? While Warped Tour has generally been considered as a proving ground for the punk scene through the years, it’s really much more than that – there’s a little something for everyone at Warped Tour. Even so, there’s no denying the tour’s continual evolution in sound.

Recent years have reflected the rise of metalcore, resulting in the compulsory guffaws from the hardcore elite. Before that, it was the influx of dance and electronica. Before that, it was the infiltration of hip hop. Before that it was the pop punk takeover. Before that…you get the idea.

One thing Warped Tour has excelled at over the past 21 years is having a finger on the pulse of the underground music scene, which means that change is inevitable. Not only have countless amounts of unknowns risen to success on the Warped Tour circuit, but the festival itself has been a catalyst for new movements in the scene and has empowered bands and fans alike in turning the tides. Warped Tour has consistently honored its past, but more importantly, it represents right now.

It’s easy to overstate the cultural relevancy of Warped Tour, but what can’t be stressed enough is the value of the community it represents. Everyone has a voice at Warped Tour, and it goes far beyond the music. One thing that has never changed is tour founder Kevin Lyman’s insistence on open doors for expression. This isn’t a place for bigotry or elitism, but instead a platform for positive change.

It’s hard to walk the grounds of Warped Tour and not find a group or movement or organization you can get behind – someone who shares the same voice and passions that you do. Likewise, it’s hard to not find a band or artist you can jam to. Maybe this is why so many of the grumpy detractors still come out, even if it really is for the “last time.”

Yes, it’s true that there always seems to be someone on the bill to scoff at – even this year (we’re looking at you, Attila). But for every flavor-of-the-month joker in the lineup, there are always countless more bands that embody the spirit of the festival.

Even with the 2015 lineup not fully announced, there’s already a ton of great acts. This year features veterans like August Burns Red, Motion City Soundtrack and Silverstein. There are scene stars like The Wonder Years, Hands Like Houses and blessthefall. Not to mention up and comers like PVRIS, This Wild Life and Moose Blood. As always, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find at least a handful of bands to make the $40 entry fee worth it.

Warped Tour isn’t going anywhere, and as sure as the sun rises, neither are the people who complain about it. That’s okay. The rest of us have found a home there and can’t wait for summer. We’ll see you there.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Forecastle Festival 2015 Lineup Announced

forecastle_2015The first wave of artists and bands have been announced for this summer’s Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. Some of the big names include My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse, The Gaslight Anthem and more. The festival is set to take place on July 17-19 and more announcements are to come. Take a look at the lineup so far:

forecastle_lineupTickets go on sale this Friday, January 30. You can read more at the festival’s official website.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2015: #8 Riot Fest

RiotFest

Riot Fest is becoming one of the greatest festivals in North America. Where Warped Tour caters to a younger crowd and acts as a proving ground for fledgling bands, Riot Fest is where the veterans come to play. Each year the lineups are massive draws that comb the best talent through multiple generations and genres. It’s one of the few arenas of punk rock where middle age and teenagers meet in mutual respect.

Though the festival attracts mostly modern punk bands, metalcore, dance and hip-hop have been frequent acts. On top of that, the festival also has a maddening ability to reunite bands we thought long gone (The Replacements, Saosin & Anthony Green). The worst part about the festival is that over its three day course, there’s hardly a moment to pause at any one stage because another epic moment is happening just around the corner.

The three day time frame can be overwhelming, as by the third consecutive day even the most conservative of festival goers will be worn out. It’s a daunting task to be in the mud and mosh for an entire weekend, but the lineups are just too damn attractive. For two years in a row I’ve told myself that I would only buy a one day pass, but was unable or unwilling to choose which day would be preferable over the others.

If the bands do start to wear thin, there is always the swarm of carnival rides to steal your attention. Haunted houses, tilt-a-whirls and wrestling rings dot the landscape between merch tables and an army of food stands.

The bands for 2015 haven’t been announced yet, but the presale holiday tickets for Chicago are already completely sold out. In it’s 11th year, Riot Fest has already proven itself capable of attracting the attention of people of all ages and returning with an over the top lineup each day. See you at Humboldt Park.

For any updates for this year’s festivals, check out Riot Fest’s website.

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has lost two pairs of chucks in the icy mud of Rito Fest. He watched Weezer play the Blue Album from a tree last year and danced in NFG’s circle pit when he should have been journalisting.

“The Rock Stage is WHERE?” Riot Fest 2014 – Day 1

RiotFest

All things considered, Riot Fest is one of the best music festivals in North America. The few cities to host it bring in the biggest names in rock, along with the festive atmosphere that only brightly lit carnival rides can muster. It’s an incredible journey that traverses decades of influence, drawing bands just as famous now as they were twenty years ago, much less bands currently on fire. And the first day of it was arguably quite miserable. There’s a saying that it’s not punk rock without mud, and Riot Fest was muddy as shit.

Prior to the gates even opening, the rain had fallen for hours to varying degrees. Paired with a cold wind and the rapidly falling temperatures of a Midwest autumn, the evening became the coldest night in months. By the end of the night I was decked out in two shirts, two hoodies and a last minute purchased rain poncho that offered no protection from the weather.

Due to unforeseen circumstance, I was unable to arrive until later in the evening, able to see just a couple of acts and get a feel for the grounds. I am obviously not aware of what led to the planning of the festival and what led it to be held on the other half of Humboldt Park this year, but it was a poor substitute for last year’s layout.

A year ago, the stages were further apart but the grounds were an open sandbox that allowed attendees to find their own path to any part of the park. It allowed for people to see the differing stages from multiple views without the bands stepping on each others sound while the merch tables and beer stands were to the sides and out of the way. The only things to possibly get in the way were the carnival rides facing the main stages.

While this part of Humboldt was definitely bigger, the layout was way more haphazard. Instead of an open layout, there was a clear arcing path alongside the outside of the given area, as a majority of the inner part was a large pond. The main stages were closer together so that it was easier to camp out and enjoy an area for large portions of the day, but maneuvering was considerably difficult.

The main entrance was alone at one end, away from everything and requiring a several minute walk just to see the first stage. Food carts lined the arched outer area, which meant that they were all together for convenience, but directly in the way of the main lanes of foot traffic. In order to avoid this, you were forced to walk through the crowds of the bands playing. Anyone hurrying to see a headliner would find themselves stuck in needless gridlocks of people for minutes at a time due to the few congested pathways.

The stages so close together made it simple if you were planning to stand in one place all day, but making your way to a stage could be problematic, as the areas for the bands was smaller because oftentimes half of the given area was taken up by people waiting for  the next band thirty minutes away. This wasn’t necessarily the case all the time, but I found it an issue while trying to jump between acts.

The night wasn’t without its merits though: Rise Against were pretty sweet. As one of the headliners, they took over one of the stages at the far end of the festival. The weather did little to stifle the energy of the bands that evening but being in their hometown of Chicago, Rise Against laughed it off on stage. Their set toured throughout their discography, spending the largest amount of time with songs from The Sufferer and the Witness before inviting Fat Mike from NOFX onstage to play a couple of Ramones songs. They were sadly all I managed to spy with my little eye.

While opening night felt miserable, the energy rewarded anyone willing to brave the storm and lay the foundation for the next two days. The mud would dry and the rain gave way to warm sun and cool breezes, a vast contrast to the brutal sun of Warped Tour. The grounds proved trickier to manage than in years past but ultimately not much of a trial for the persistent. Riot Fest brought autumn to the Midwest in epic fashion.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was stuck in rush hour traffic for two goddamned hours the opening night of Riot Fest. Please make voodoo dolls of him.

Forecastle 2014: Keeping Louisville Weird

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Keep Louisville Weird. It’s the unofficial slogan of a city that prides itself in being different – championing its local shops and eateries, embracing its odd and quirky layout, and advocating its diversity and idiosyncrasies.

It’s not surprising that the city’s own Forecastle Festival, started just over a decade ago, embraces all of the above. Once the little brother of the summer festival circuit, Forecastle has quickly grown from a small local music celebration to a full-blown art, activism and music extravaganza, complete with bigger names, brighter lights and crazier crowds.

Although the scale of the event has changed dramatically since its 2002 inception, one thing has remained unsurprisingly static: Forecastle is undeniably Louisville.

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The great lawn

As a former Louisvillian who resided in the city during many of Forecastle’s growing years, I was always impressed with the festival’s diligence to keep things local. As Forecastle’s lineups have continued to balloon, marked this year by the inclusion of Outkast, Jack White and Beck, I was intrigued to make a return and observe the fully realized event.

If you were to classify Forecastle in years past, you might be inclined to label the festival’s musical focus as indie, folk or bluegrass. No more. While those genres are certainly represented, the full lineup spans an array of musical sounds, from electro-pop (St. Lucia, Kygo) to hip hop (Outkast) to punk (Against Me!, The Replacements) to country (Dwight Yoakam).

This combination of eclectic music and big name headliners has resulted in larger crowds and increased exposure. However, with crowds flocking from across the country, it’s clear that Forecastle has made no compromises to its overall vision. Instead, the overall feel of the festival itself has been amplified, making it quite possibly the most peculiar and unique summer festival around.

Squallis Puppeteers

Squallis Puppeteers

Louisville’s art scene is in full force, and is not contained to one area, but instead invades the waterfront area from every direction. The Squallis puppeteers venture around the festival grounds with odd creatures and familiar Louisville natives. On day one, a large marooned ship appears to be a prop, but instead becomes an ongoing art project with various artists contributing paint and stylings as the weekend progresses.

Tents are interspersed throughout the grounds featuring artwork for sale, blended with various non-profit and activism opportunities and organizations. The newly added Kentucky Landing offers up the best of Kentucky-made goods and cuisine, putting the best of the Commonwealth on display.

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Bourbon Lodge

Indeed, it’s hard to find another festival with as many eatery options. In place of the typical and often grossly unhealthy fair food found at most venues, Forecastle offers up local eats to satisfy just about everyone (I personally recommend the vegan red beans and rice). Likewise, the drink options are far from scarce. The Bourbon Lounge offers bourbon connoisseurs member-only access to some of the finest whiskey in the area, while Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine serves up options for those more drawn to the sweeter side.

It’s hard to look in any direction and not be drawn to something of a local flavor. This speaks volumes to Forecastle’s overall mission and determination to keep the festival as a beacon of what Louisville has to offer. In truth, the city’s populace likely wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Even though Forecastle is a music festival, one could easily distract himself or herself with the curious surroundings and activities. Nonetheless, the festival’s 2014 lineup is one for the ages and will likely cement Forecastle as a nationally recognized event in the years to come. With an opening night featuring one of the most lauded comeback acts of the year in Outkast, there’s no denying the pull.

Friday’s lineup featured a number of fresh faces for the massive crowd. Against Me! made their first Forecastle appearance with a bang, fresh off the heels of their latest release, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Local Natives followed on the Boom Stage with their catchy, melodic brand of indie rock, led by vocalist Taylor Rice.

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Twenty One Pilots

Perhaps the most odd appearance of the weekend belonged to Twenty One Pilots, who turned the grounds into a dance party with their indietronica/hip-hop hybrid. While not the typical cup of tea for most Forecastle-goers, it’s evident that the festival is more than willing to widen its doors to the pop world and its fans.

However, it’s no surprise that Friday night belonged to Outkast. Recently reunited, the duo promised a slew of festival dates around the globe to celebrate their return in 2014. Forecastle attendees were treated to an hour and 40 minute set that featured every major song in the band’s catalogue and then some. With one of the most impressive live productions you’ll witness, Andre 3000 and Big Boi lit up the night sky on the waterfront and proved why they’re considered hip-hop royalty.

Jack White

Jack White

Other highlights from the weekend included hour and a half sets from the likes of indie rock giants Band of Horses, country legend Dwight Yoakam and a surprise appearance from Billie Joe Armstrong during The Replacements’ set. Not to be outdone by Outkast’s giant Friday night performance was the one and only Jack White, fresh off the release of his latest solo effort, Lazaretto. White shredded through Saturday night with a setlist filled with newer solo material, White Stripes hits and a few Raconteurs tracks thrown in for good measure.

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It’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer scale of this year’s Forecastle Festival. Even more impressive is that the city of Louisville lies at the heart of every move and every moment. It makes sense that this city would refuse to follow in the footsteps of the other major summer festivals and instead blaze its own trail. The fact that it does so with its own residents, artists and musicians leading the way is truly admirable.

So what lies ahead for Forecastle? One could imagine an ever-growing lineup of big name artists while still making room for the usual suspects and local talent amidst an expanding audience. If the steady growth of recent years is any indication, it won’t be long before Forecastle is mentioned alongside the likes of Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. In the meantime, it’s still a wonderful sight to see this hometown festival liven up the Louisville waterfront more and more with each passing year.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Saosin and Midtown to reunite at Skate and Surf 2014

skatesurffest

As many predicted, there are some huge reunions taking place at this year’s Skate and Surf Festival. Both Midtown and Saosin are reuniting and will be headlining the festival on Saturday, May 17. Saosin will be playing with original vocalist Anthony Green. Check out the full lineup below:

skate_and_surf_2014

Weekend passes go on sale tomorrow at the Skate and Surf website.

What band are you most excited to see?

Posted by Kiel Hauck