The Honeymoon cruiseship of Funk and Disco: the SS Fre3bird
The Honeymoon cruiseship of Funk and Disco: the SS Fre3bird

Day two of Forecastle down. Day three just beginning.

This is my first Forecastle at the Waterfront, and it really does feel like a baby Bonnaroo, or like it’s on its way to being a baby Bonnaroo.

I’m mostly in favor of that. I have loved my three trips to Bonnaroo. It’s great music, great food, great shopping and great fun.

Forecastle has a way to go on the food and shopping part of the equation. The Bourbon Lounge is a good way to keep things Kentucky, but so many of the food vendors/trucks were “imported” from Nashville… disappointing.

There has been a great showing by local bands at this Forecastle, but a Kentucky bluegrass stage would go a long way toward grounding this festival in its native roots.

But, man, I love the fact that I can go home to my own bed after each day is over rather than having to crawl into a tent without having taken a shower.

That’s part of Forecastle that makes me feel old – that I’m happy not to be camping. But no part of Forecastle made me feel older than the number of heavy-lidded twentysomethings wandering the festival in a drunken (or more) haze.

(To be fair, at least 50 percent of the people I saw smoking pot at the Festival were older than me.)

At the end of last night’s festival, we were passed by a young man in a feathered headdress muttering, “I don’t know where my friends are” over and over. I had to evacuate a great close-to-the-stage viewing spot for the Black Keys because if that little blonde drunk girl had bumped into me one more time, why I wouldda ….

I have no idea what I would have done.

Is she even going to remember the fantastic Black Keys set?

What a waste of money for all these drunk/stoned/other kids; tickets to the festival are expensive. And how much do they have to pay to get that drunk when beers are around six bucks a pop?

And, hey, while I’m at it: get off my lawn!

On to the show.

Bob Mould did not disappoint, and I haven’t seen an act at Forecastle yet that rocked more. He played classics and new stuff, every bit of it distinctively Bob Mould. The man is 53, and he looks as “right” behind that guitar as any of the twentysomethings that took the stage after him.

Check out this video of “Your Favorite Thing” at Forecastle:

I remain not a Jim James convert.

He is amazing to watch – what a showman! Midway through the show, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “He’s totally a Muppet!” And he is… some beautiful cross between Animal, Elvis and James Brown. And “A New Life” may be the most beautiful song written since the last time U2 wrote a real, soaring, inspirational breathtaker.

So why am I not a convert? I miss the good old days when rock songs clocked in at less than four minutes. Shoot, I miss the good old days when four minutes seemed epic. Not every song is worth the “Stairway to Heaven” treatment.

I honestly don’t want a five minute drum solo when you’re playing a festival set that’s only an hour, an hour and a half long.

That’s the beauty of a music festival– WFPL’s Erin Keane discussed this with me last night– sets are short. You get a taste of a band’s music. And then they move on. Move on, already!

The Black Keys and the Alabama Shakes also put on phenomenal sets.

Brittany Howard, the 24 year old lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, is a revelation. She knew how to rock a song and get out of it. (Note to Howard though, slow songs suck the energy out of festival crowds. Keep them upbeat and fast, or you’ll lose your crowd a bit.)

Performing “Hold On” at Forecastle:

Likewise the Black Keys noodled around very little with solos aimed solely at the music nerds’ appreciation for music.

Black Keys at Forecastle:

It’s all subjective, of course. A String Cheese Incident fan would wholeheartedly disagree with me. To each, his or her own.

Things we can all agree on:

Babies in earphones are adorable. – Lots of babies at the festival this year, and I have yet to see one without substantial ear protection. Good job, moms and dads. Babies are a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but it was more hit and miss whether or not parents were keeping baby’s ears safe.

The festival is visually gorgeous. – From the show poster mini-festival to the live painting by the Forecastle Foundation tent, to all the installations in between and the roaming Squallis Puppeteers… there’s a lot to take in.

Squalis Hunter S. Thompson. Photo by Michael Tierney
Squalis Hunter S. Thompson. Photo by Michael Tierney


The food situation is kind of a bummer.– I had Holy Mole tacos on Friday night. Absolutely as delicious as ever, even though they were 33% more expensive than usual. (I’m sure they had to pay significant fees to the Festival, so I don’t begrudge that.) But it seems that by Saturday evening, they’d been “discovered” and now had the biggest lines in the festival.

Likewise, my boyfriend and I tried to order Li’l Cheezers during the Jim James show, thinking we were smart to avoid crowds. They’d put a stop to all new orders because they were backed up with orders with people waiting close to an hour for their food.

Holy Mole Food Truck
Holy Mole Food Truck

The rest of the food on hand seems to have more in common with the Chow Wagon food fare than with the eclectic and often very healthy options available at Ashley Capps’s megafestival Bonnaroo. We’re talking $5 corn dogs and $6 slices of pizza and $7 cheese fries.

The weather has been perfect. – Yes, we arrived just as the Festival was briefly evacuated for a storm that never came. And that was inconvenient and frustrating. But it’s good to know that the festival planners have a keen eye on the weather (remember Indiana State Fair, people? Don’t get huffy if event planners are trying to keep you safe.)

Otherwise, we’ve had blue skies and dry, cool breezes. I’ve actually been chilly at times. (I don’t think I will have that problem today with a high or 91 degrees.)

The Mayor’s office is promising an even bigger Forecastle next year.

What else would you like to see added to Forecastle? Local food? Local beers? They have both at Bonnaroo.

What else?

One thought on “Melissa Chipman at Forecastle: ‘Forecastle is on its way to becoming a baby Bonnaroo’

  1. Local food and local brews would be nice. More places to sit (not on the ground) around the perimeter would be a plus, especially more picnic tables at which to eat. More capacity for cell phones/data, too.

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