By: Derek Jung
Nestled in a quaint park amphitheater on the banks of the Great Miami River in Hamilton, Ohio, David Shaw's Big River Get Down has put together one of the better single day festivals in the area. Shaw, lead singer of The Revivalists and Hamilton native, assembled an eclectic, good vibes focused lineup that delivered from top to bottom. Coupled with great weather and a crowd eager to soak up the sun and enjoy a day of music in an otherwise quiet town, The Get Down was a huge success.
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Ironically only featuring three members, Peyton's energy, enthusiasm, and monster beard makes up for what the band lacks in size and, frankly, a vocalist. With slick slide guitar, smooth blues licks, and a hypnotizing rhythmic sound, Peyton and company commanded the stage for their 45 minute set. I found myself constantly watching Breezy, whose instrument is scratching a washboard.
Yes, this is a band from the 21st century.
Set highlights "Something for Nothing" and "Clap Your Hands" are worth the price of admission alone. Don't miss out on seeing The Rev if he comes around again.
The Marcus King Band
I missed seeing Marcus King earlier this year at 20th Century Theater because of a snow storm, so seeing he was playing The Big River Get Down was icing on the cake when I went to purchase tickets. The 21 year old blues guitarist has been playing live for a good portion of his life already, and being associated with legends like Warren Hayes certainly hasn't hurt his young career. Similar to Hayes, King's southern blues style bring back memories of The Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. With accompanying horns and keys, King's guitar playing didn't take the spotlight quite as much as I would have liked, but there's no denying the kid's talent and passion for the blues. I'm really looking forward to hearing how his sound evolves, because there are certainly some growing pains involved. (His voice being one of them) But I have high hopes.
The Record Company
Seeing them open for My Morning Jacket earlier this year was a revolution for me. I'd heard their single, "Rita Mae Young" on local radio, but never thought they'd rock as much as they do. These three guys bring the hard pounding throwback southern blues rock riffs, a little twang, a little harmonica, and top it off with a dash of slide guitar. The resulting rock 'n' roll sundae is enough to fill the appetite of even the hungriest rocker out there.
Some would argue that The Record Company isn't bringing anything new to the genre, which is probably true, but why mess with a formula that's been so successful for so long. There's no denying that what the band's doing here sounds just as fresh as it did when Muddy Waters pioneered the genre in the 50's and 60's.
By: Derek Jung
There are few modern country stars that I can, without any shame, say that I am a fan. Chris Stapleton just happens to be one of them. I've been a fan of his since he broke onto the scene under his own name with his debut album Traveler. Stapleton, who had been writing for Nashville superstars for years, proved that he could be his own star and amassed a number of yearly awards for the release. Earlier this summer he released his sophomore album, From A Room: Volume 1, a collection of soulful country ballads that we at The Busted Amp thoroughly enjoyed. Friday night brought a good mix of both, as well as a number of great covers.
Chris Stapleton looks like a southern outlaw. Bearded, with long hair and a cowboy hat, his presence on stage immediately draws your attention. His voice demands it. The show began with the mood setting single "Might As Well Get Stoned", an apt description to the amount of smoke that was rising from the crowd all around us. It was a down home country throwdown, and the sold out crowd at Riverbend Music Center ate it all up.
It was also a sad night for country fans, as country legends Don Williams and Troy Gentry passed away earlier that day. To honor their memories, Stapleton played two Don WIlliams covers during the encore and introed a snippet of Montgomery Gentry's "Hillbilly Shoes" before "Nobody to Blame".
Stapleton is on the road through the middle of November. Check him out if you get the chance.
Might As Well Get Stoned
Nobody to Blame (intro of Hillbilly Shoes by Montgomery Gentry)
Midnight Train to Memphis
Trying to Untangle My Mind
I Was Wrong
Whiskey and You
More of You
Outlaw State of Mind
Tuesday's Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
The Devil Named Music
Second One To Know
Amanda (Don Williams cover)
Tulsa Time (Don Williams cover)
Sometimes I Cry
By: Derek Jung
Seeing any musical act in a sports arena is a gamble. For one, the sound system built into stadiums are not made to handle the intricate sounds of a live band. They also are not shaped to handle the way sound travels in space. We see this almost every night at Reds games with the now infamous wooing that echoes through the mostly empty stadium. The last act I had the displeasure of seeing at Great American Ballpark was Billy Currington during All Star Weekend. It didn't go well, and luckily we only had to endure two songs from the country star. Because of this, I didn't have high hopes for The Avett Brothers, who have a much larger, fuller sound.
The stage for The Avett Brothers was, unlike Currington's positioning, directly behind second base facing home. I can't imagine what the sound was like for anyone behind the stage in the outfield, or even more down the first or third baseline, but where we were sitting, we had a good view of the stage. Speaking of which, there were seven people in the band packed on a tiny stage, much of which was taken up by drums, a piano, and keyboards. For a band with as much on-stage energy as The Avett Brothers, I was worried we wouldn't get the full effect. Thankfully, my worries were quickly dashed, but not without some downsides. As I feared, the sound was immediately an issue for those of us in the upper seats in the stadium. The speakers in the upper levels were a good half second behind the on field speakers, which we could still hear. This resulted in an almost unbearable echo for the first few songs. Eventually, the sound evened out (or our ears got used to the echo) and the show progressed like normal.
The band, who headlined Bunbury Festival in 2015, returned a month later but have not been back to Cincinnati since the release of their latest album True Sadness. It was nice to hear a few new songs live, even though I thought the album as a whole was lacking in the punchiness that I've come to expect from Avett Brother releases. Most of the night, however, was dominated by their acclaimed 2009 album I and Love and You, and the band still puts the same amount of energy into it as they always have.
Our show was also one of the last for multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia, who departed the band less than a few weeks later. The band is on tour through the beginning of next year, so you'll have plenty of chances to see them on the road in the coming months.
Live and Die
Satan Pulls the Strings
Another Is Waiting
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Ain't No Man
Paranoia in B-Flat Major
Talk on Indolence
I and Love and You
Kick Drum Heart
I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan cover)
By: The Busted Amp Staff
DEREK: Lollapalooza. The festival we at The Busted Amp thought would be a one time affair after our adventure in 2016. But as with most things in the music world, we should never said never, because when the festival dropped a lineup stacked top to bottom with solid acts, we had no choice but to return to the hallowed grounds at Chicago's Grant Park. While what we witnessed ultimately failed to live up to 2016's peaks, the festival overall left us musically satisfied. The atmosphere, however, did not.
But we'll get to that.
Derek: For the second year in a row, the festival's closing act turned out to be its best. Arcade Fire, on the heels of their so-so new album Everything Now, took the stage at Grant Park on Sunday evening and played a whirlwind, catalog-spanning 90 minutes filled with their signature indie rock anthems. Hearing the chorus of "Wake Up" yelled by a field of tired festival goers was almost as awe inspiring as dancing myself clean with LCD Soundsystem last year. Filled with energy and positivity, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne brought the house down. "Everything Now" and "Creature Comfort" were clear highlights from the new album live, and old favorites like "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" reverberated off the crowd with the same effect that they had over ten years ago - sonic majesty and the emotional punch that will bring even the hardest of detractors to tears.
Joseph: Derek and I will have very similar opinions on most of the festival, but I'll add my thoughts here and there. While we disagreed somewhat on LCD Soundsystem last year, (at least with calling it the best of Lolla 2016) we are in unison with Arcade Fire. My most anticipated set of the festival turned out to be my favorite as well, as the band closed out an otherwise lackluster weekend in considerable style. "Creature Comfort" was one of my favorites, as the song (which I wasn't too high on on the album) turned out to be quite an awesome banger live. I also loved "Signs of Life," which was an incredibly groovy number to dance to. While those who made an effort to see the band's official Lolla aftershow at The Metro the night before might have found the setlists to be eerily similar, it was still a great way for us to close out Lolla 2017.
Run The Jewels
Derek: What a relief.
After their nauseatingly bass-heavy performance at Forecastle earlier this summer, I was hesitant to see them again at Lollapalooza, thinking that bigger stage speakers would only make my issues with their live mix worse. Oh how I was wrong. Killer Mike and El-P were at their best in Chicago, and absolutely tore through their hour long set in the late afternoon on Friday. One of the more memorable #LollaMoments happened when the duo invited a sign-wielding fan up on stage to rap the beginning verse of "Legend Has It". He nailed it.
These big stages are perfect for Mike and El-P, and given their continual rise in popularity, I don't see them playing anywhere smaller anytime soon.
Joseph: I did not see RTJ earlier this summer, but thanks to Derek's poor reception of them at Forecastle, I set my bar very low for this set. However I'd say this added to what we ended up with because....holy crap did RTJ blow me away. RTJ is at a point right now where they can put together a solid setlist top to bottom with 3 LPs, and their mix through Lolla's giant sound system was incredible. Additionally, unlike at many hip hop/EDM/pop sets of the weekend, the vibe here was pretty positive, as it seemed most people just showed up to dance. This set was undoubtedly my runner up for best set of the weekend.
Cage The Elephant
Derek: When it comes to legendary sets, there are few in recent years that compares to Cage The Elephant's rain dance/mud wrestling set in 2011. That's why, with more rain threatening this year's set, it wasn't beyond possibility for a repeat. Fortunately (unfortunately?), the rain held off, but the band was still on fire. There are few frontmen that have the energy as Matthew Schultz, who wore a dress for the majority of the set, before triumphantly taking it off toward the end. Not to mention guitarist Brad Schultz, who brings every bit as much energy as his brother, furiously strumming his guitar and yelling into the crowd. By the end, when Matt climbed to the top of the sound booth, the crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands. At this point in their careers, Cage the Elephant has enough material to be a go-to festival act. We saw this in action the week after Lollapalooza when they were booked to fill the space at Outside Lands when Queens of the Stone Age cancelled due to injury.
The Lemon Twigs
Chance the Rapper
Derek: Few bands had a bigger crowd of college douchebags during the weekend than Glass Animals, and for the life of me I really don't understand why. With the exception of "Life Itself", which was one of my favorite songs of last year, the rest of the band's material is incredibly bland, especially their album How To Be A Human Being. Not surprisingly, their performance wasn't much better, yet the crowd was thrilled to toss around mini blow up pineapples (a reference to the song "Gooey") and get really really high. I'm not kidding. I can't think of another act with a thicker haze swirling around the immense field of festival attendees. Maybe I didn't understand because I was stone cold sober, but I didn't hear anything worthwhile from their hour long set.
Joseph: I don't think there was a set over the weekend that better encapsulated what's wrong with Lolla today than Glass Animals. The vibe at Lolla has gone to hell, and at sets like Glass Animals, it was all too present. Many in attendance were just there for "Gooey" and "Life Itself," (which the band opened with so they really took the anticipation out of it with that one) and the rest of the time they couldn't care less what Dave Bayley and co. were doing on stage. What's worse is this isn't the first time this has happened to me watching Glass Animals. While I didn't bring them up in my official recap, I was very low on their set at Bonnaroo this year for similar reasons, and insisted on seeing the band again in the hopes that that negative vibe (which ran counter to most of Bonnaroo's weekend) was a fluke. It was not. I almost hate to say this about any band, but for now avoid Glass Animals and their awful crowd at all costs. It's just not worth it.
Car Seat Headrest
Derek: Don't listen to the folks at Stereogum, who praised the band's set as one of the festival's best. This set was doomed from the very beginning, and had everything to do with the mix. If you've listened to CSH before, you know that lead singer Will Toledo's voice is pretty abrasive. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but combined with a mix that was a muddled mess and you have a recipe for disaster. It quickly spawned Reddit threads, complaining about the poor sound quality. Would this be the Bastille set of 2017? The short answer is absolutely, although after I left for ten minutes to catch the end of Noname, who was fantastic, I returned back to be pleasantly surprised that there was a small but noticeable improvement in the sound. It was, however, too late to save the set as a whole, and thus Car Seat Headrest goes back on the list of bands I need to experience in their true form, because we certainly did not get it here.
Joseph: So this is the one point where I will kind of disagree with Derek. I'm definitely not with Stereogum on this set, but to me it can just be summed up as.....meh. While the AWFUL mix initially didn't help matters, after they fixed it somewhat, the set itself was just mediocre to me. I've never fully understood the hype behind CSH (though I can definitely appreciate the fact that frontman Will Toledo looks suspiciously like Boris Grishenko from 007's Goldeneye) and after seeing their set I still don't understand it. Their set, to me, was just average, and I have very little desire to see them again. (Even though I'm glad I did get to see them) So I guess I didn't hate this set as much as Derek did, I just found the band as a whole to be very meh.
Derek: There are few modern rock stars that have the reputation that Liam Gallagher has amassed his twenty years in the spotlight. The singer, formerly of Oasis, was a surprisingly solid get for the festival as he ramps up touring before the release of his first solo album. Unfortunately for those in attendance, Liam made it only three songs into his set before calling it quits without so much as a word to the crowd. He would later tweet of vocal issues, but I don't believe that for a second. The crowd briefly chanted his brother's name "Noel. Noel. Noel" as the crew began to tear down his gear. Given their much publicized dislike for each other, I can only dream of being a fly on the wall of his green room as the echos reached his ears.
Joseph: Hey, remember the days when Liam Gallagher wasn't an asshole? Neither do I. Sorry this post isn't any longer. My hands hurt from all that typing. I'm gutted.
Derek: While the trend of younger and younger Lollapalooza attendees continued this year, exacerbated by the ever present bass booming through the park from Perry's, I was happy to see that those crowds generally stuck in and around that area. There were only a few acts that were inundated by drugged up high schoolers, one of which made the bad list above. There weren't many other noticeable changes to the festival format. Of course, everyone was bummed that Thursday's headliners were cut short because of severe weather. I was at Lorde and Joseph was at Muse during that time.
The best change for 2017 was the addition of separate urinals, which really sped up bathroom wait times, and also flushable toilets, which kept them cleaner for longer. If I were to take a stab at attendance, I'd say that this year was better attended than last year, especially on Saturday for Chance the Rapper's hometown headlining set.
All of that being said, I still think Lollapalooza has an identity and culture problem. So many people, especially over the age of 20, continue to decry the existence of Perry's, and Perry himself has teased the possibility of running his own underground house music festival to counter the mostly generic EDM that is featured on the stage bearing his name. The problem, ultimately, is that EDM brings the crowds and money that indie music can't bring anymore. Those that grew up in the early-mid 2000's during indie-rock's boom aren't attending as many festivals, and electronic music is the name of the game for the high school and college demographic. And when it comes down to it, Lollapalooza exists to make money, and it certainly does year after year. I think it's safe to say, however, that they won't be getting any more from me. Maybe I'm just getting old.
Joseph: Lolla 2017 was a Jekyll-and-Hyde tale for me. Unlike Derek, I don't necessarily mind the identity/culture problem. I think that can be summed up as "We're old and no longer the most important demographic for music, and we're just not that into EDM." What I do mind, however, is people who can't get their act together and, frankly, handle their shit. I see more people passed out at Lolla than at any other festival, and that's saying something since I go to a 4 day camping festival in the middle of the TN summer every year in Bonnaroo. I just don't understand why people feel the need to have a total disregard of their limits. Why is that even a thing? What benefits do you get out of it other than waking up in an ambulance or medical tent having no idea where your phone is and realizing you missed the headliner you wanted to see because you were passed out?
Additionally, I am so frustrated by the selfish, entitled mentality that comes with so many of the crowds at Lolla. The day Chance headlined was undoubtedly the worst of this. While I had a great time at Chance's set, and will likely be talking about it for years to come as it was one of the biggest crowds for a Lolla headliner ever, I came home to read horror stories on Reddit of entitled Chance fans ruining the show for everyone else who camped the Grant Park Stage right before he went on.
That said, there are still many things Lolla does better than any other festival I go to. Front and center is their easy to use cashless wristband system. No other festival has their act together as much as Lolla does with this system, and it's paired with some incredible food which, believe it or not, is the cheapest I saw at any festival in 2017. Believe me when the year started I did not think I would be typing that sentence, but $5 for a slice of authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza was the deal to beat at any music festival in 2017. As Derek mentioned, the flush-able toilets (and urinals) were an EXTREMELY welcomed addition to the festival this year, and the festival crew added an extremely welcome third set of speakers at the main stage as well. Security started out pretty lax but got their act together as the weekend went on, and the watering stations are still the best of any festival I go to.
Unfortunately, though, the negatives outweighed the positives for me this year, and I am going to have to side with Derek on my final takeaway. As much fun as it's been going to Lolla these last two years, it would take an absolutely incredible lineup in 2018 for me to even consider coming back and dealing with all the BS that comes with the festival. And given the overall trend of these festival lineups the last two years, I am not holding my breath for a stellar lineup in 2018. It's been real, Lollapalooza. Thanks for the memories.
By: Derek Jung
So many Lollapalooza attendees expect to witness a #LollaMoment, a special cameo or performance from a band that will go down as a unique, memorable piece of festival history. These moments are unpredictable, and people wait through entire sets to witness anything at all, oftentimes walking away disappointed when nothing of significance happens. There are, however, rare occasions where a #LollaMoment is all but guaranteed, and Foo Fighters playing an intimate club show is one of those occasions. The band wasn't even booked at the adjoining festival, but announced an after show less than a week before the festival occurred. The ~1,000 available tickets sold out in less than an hour, and by the time Joseph and I arrived at the venue at 9:15, 15 minutes prior to the doors opening, the line stretched down and around the block. The excitement was palpable for everyone, and those without tickets were offering hundreds of dollars to anyone willing to sell their guest ticket.
It's quite the feeling being less than 30 feet from the stage to see one of the biggest bands of the last two decades. By the time the show started a little after 11, we were packed in like sardines, but that didn't prevent us from yelling and cheering at the top of our lungs. What proceeded is what I can only call "legen-wait for it-DARY". 3 hours and 30 plus minutes of non-stop, in your face, rock n roll. Perry Ferrell, lead singer of Jane's Addiction and founder of Lollapalooza appeared for a cover of "Mountain Song". David Bowie's guitarist was in the balcony and the band paid tribute to him, as was Dave Grohl's cousin who inspired him to get into punk music. The Foos also played 5 tracks off of their upcoming album, Concrete and Gold, and a wide range of different covers from AC/DC and Queen, to The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty. It was, quite frankly, the best show I have ever seen.
The band is gearing up for an extensive world tour supporting Concrete and Gold. We'll be seeing them again in October, but we highly doubt it will come close to matching this one.
All My Life
Times Like These
The Sky Is a Neighborhood
Something From Nothing
Cold Day in the Sun
La Dee Da
Skin and Bones
Mountain Sound (Jane's Addiction cover w/ Perry Farrell)
This Is a Call
I'll Stick Around
Miss You (The Rollings Stones cover)
Under Pressure (Queen cover)
Stay With Me (Faces cover)
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
Best of You
Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
By: Derek Jung
It's amazing what a change in venue can do for a listening experience. Two weeks ago, I was thoroughly unimpressed by Judah & the Lion's performance at Forecastle Festival, basically calling them X Ambassador wannabes. But Thursday afternoon's intimate performance in front of 100 or so attendees gave me better context for what the band is striving to achieve in their music, and even the poppier songs that I railed on previously sounded sincere and energized.
Being an acoustic set, some of the glamour of their live show had to be drawn back to fit the environment of the room. Frankly, I had my doubts going into the set because of how high energy their Forecastle performance was. To Judah and the band's credit, however, their storytelling, humor, and outward appreciation for the opportunity to do what they love were undeniably endearing. It also helped that our host, a DJ from Cincinnati's Q102, was so much better than the laughable performance by the KISS107 host during the Fitz & the Tantrums in studio performance earlier this year.
The biggest surprise was a cover of Eminem's "Lose Yourself", which Judah had some great flow. They also brought up a fan, who hilariously didn't know what he was volunteering for, to freestyle rap with mandolin player Brain Macdonald. To his credit, he managed to get everyone's hands up and sloppily get one diss out before giving up. While it wasn't good, it was certainly entertaining.
Overall, I was much more impressed by the band's energy and music in this setting than I was in a large festival atmosphere. The band will be back in Cincinnati later this fall.
Suit and Jacket
Back's Against the Wall
Lose Yourself (Eminem cover)
Little Girl of Mine In Tennessee
Take It All Back 2.0
By: Derek Jung
It's fun to watch a band grow from humble beginnings to achieve underground recognition. I first saw Dawg Yawp as a side act during last year's MusicNOW Festival, something that seemed so insignificant that I didn't even mention it in my review of the night, which was dominated by the extremely talented Chris Thile. Since then, Dawg Yawp has become a force in the Cincinnati local music scene, being featured on NPR's All Songs Considered, playing Bunbury Music Festival, and recently recording an NPR Tiny Desk show. The sky's the limit for these two dawgs, and their return to the Woodward Theater was the band's biggest crowd at the venue to date.
Since I last saw them at WNKU's Studio 89 back in February, the band has been fleshing out their live performances with more improvisational jams. On the one hand, I think this is a great step in the right direction in terms of their sound, but, as with anything, practice makes perfect and there were still a few kinks to iron out. Some of the slower jams felt a little empty sonically , but I suppose that's to be expected when there are only two instruments featured. The band did play some great covers, including their set standard of The Beatles classic "Two Of Us" as well as a surprise cover of "Blue Ridge Mountains" by Fleet Foxes.
I'm looking forward to hearing what direction the band decides to move towards in their new material. There was a definite shift in crowd engagement between certain song styles. Folky songs like "East Virginia Blues" were well received by the crowd, who stomped and clapped their hands to the beat. In contrast, more experimental songs like "18 caret" quickly found the crowd losing interest and the chatter got louder and louder. In my opinion, there's a pretty clear path forward, but only time will tell.
This isn't the last dose of Dawg Yawp in Cincinnati this summer. They are opening for Foxy Shazam lead signer Eric Nally on Fountain Square next month, so I'm looking forward to hearing how much they grow as performers in that time.
By: Derek Jung
After missing the previous three years, it was nice to finally return to the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, KY for another round of Forecastle. 2013's edition was my first music festival ever, and the experience that I had there set the bar for three day marathon-style music festivals that I've attended ever since. Yes, the musical landscape has changed quite a bit even in those few years, but what I found was that the essence of Forecastle was still in great shape, even with the negative vibes that the EDM/rave culture brought to two of the stages during the festival. Below I've highlighted some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from this year's beautiful Forecastle Festival. Welcome aboard, reader.
After what was reported as an uncharacteristically rough performance at Pitchfork Festival in Chicago the night before, James Murphy and crew brought their A Game to their Saturday headlining slot on the riverfront. For an hour and fifty minutes, the field of festival goers were dancing and grooving to the band's signature sound. Between last year's headlining set at Lollapalooza and this one, the setlist was very similar, save for the addition of the two new singles from their impending new album. "Call The Police" was especially poignant, it's driving repeated riff climaxing to Murphy's exclamatory outro chorus. As always, it was a wondrous experience to see tens of thousands of people dancing together, specifically during "Dance Yrself Clean" and my personal highlight, "All My Friends".
The band also performed what Murphy admitted was their first festival encore ever, so that was a nice little piece of history to witness. I have a feeling, however, that it was unintentional. They left the stage exactly at 11, but their set was scheduled until 11:20. Nontheless, it was a great set and my favorite of the entire weekend.
Yr City's a Sucker
Daft Pink Is Playing at My House
I Can Change
You Wanted a Hit
Call The Police
New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
Dance Yrself Clean
All My Friends
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Seeing a cancer free Charles Bradley smiling at a field of hot, sweaty, Sunday afternoon festival goers was immediately one of the highlights of the entire weekend. Since I saw him last at Bunbury 2016, Bradley underwent treatment for stomach cancer and had to cancel a number of tour dates in the process. But the 68 year old, nicknamed the "Screaming Eagle" for a reason, brought the soul to the waterfront, and his energy woke all of us from our heat-induced slumbers. At his age, he's still incredible mobile, and twice jumped down from the stage to sing and dance. After his rousing cover of the Ozzy Osbourne classic "Changes", he brought a dozen roses and handed them out to the crowd. A little girl on her dad's shoulders in front us got one of the roses, and everyone around her gave her high fives. The smile on her face said it all. That's a moment she'll remember for a long time, and is exactly the good vibes that I've come to expect from the festival.
Perhaps the most intimate performance of the weekend took place on the small Port stage, which was situated across a small docking area to the right of the main stage. John Moreland, a singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, took the stage in the late afternoon on Friday. I had seen Moreland open for Shovels & Rope earlier this year, and immediately fell in love with his hard cutting, deeply personal lyricism and his gravelly, Springsteen-esque voice. Seeing Moreland at the festival was a last second decision for us. His time slot was one of the biggest conflicts of the weekend; Capital Cities lined up with all but 15 minutes of his set and Cage The Elephant started on the main stage a half hour before he ended. Despite all of that, once we arrived on the sparsely populated lawn, there was no leaving him. With little fanfare and only he and an accompanying guitarist to his right, Moreland dove into his new record, the fantastic Big Bad Luv, as well as a number of songs off his older records. It was a perfect setting as the sun slowly set under the Ohio River.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Run The Jewels
RTJ, the hip hop duo consisting of Killer Mike and El-P, was one of my most anticipated sets of the festival. Unfortunately for me, the mix was one of the worst of the weekend. Now, maybe this is just Grandpa Derek rambling here, but the bass and low end was so loud that it was drowning out a lot of the rapping, especially Killer Mike. What's the point if you can't hear the rapping?
I enjoyed everything else about their set. Their stage presence was great, the crowd interactions were hilarious, and I have nothing else bad to say about them. But the bass-heavy mix completely ruined it for me. Joseph and I are probably going to catch them in a few weeks at Lollapalooza. Hopefully they have things balanced a little better there, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out sounding like Bastille last year.
Judah & The Lion
For the most part, there weren't many bad sets this year, which is a great sign that they're doing things right on the riverfront. The worst performance of the weekend was definitely from Judah & The Lion, although I suppose I should give them credit for living up to the name of their album Folk Hop N' Roll. But it was that lack of identity that really turned me off of the band's show. Much of the new album is very poppy - pop hooks, pop lyrics, pop sensibilities. Their show, however, tried a little too hard to be like X Ambassadors, and it felt forced and uncharacteristic for a group whose first two albums were mostly folk/americana. Come on, fellas. No need to be what you're not for the sake of a paycheck.
Weezer's cover of "Hey Ya" - Outkast
The Party Cove Stage
For a band with such great potential, lead singer Sam France continues to derail their live performances with his on stage antics and unstable performances. After seeing them twice, I'm still not sure who he's trying to emulate, but it's perhaps best described as a less talented Mick Jagger on methamphetamine. Despite France's best efforts to attract all of the attention to himself by yelling nonsense and being the most distracting lead singer I've ever seen, the rest of the band's performance was pretty great. That only makes his meltdowns even more disappointing. The saddest part is that as the band's material has gotten more ambitious, on Hang especially, the level of France's outrageous behavior has, as they say, gone to 11. And I make that last statement in the worst light possible. He was dressed in white face at Forecastle.
Until France gets himself under control, Foxygen live is a hard pass from me.
All in all, it was another great showing for the Louisville mainstay. Most of the changes since my last visit in 2013 were positive, especially moving the smallest stage to its current location. I'm still advocating for them to limit the amount of EDM/Rave culture that they allow into the festival, because it brings the most negative crowd of hormonal teenagers who just want to get high and fuck. For a good vibes festival like Forecastle, the two don't mix, and there are plenty of other festivals where that crowd can blow their loads, literally and figuratively. But unfortunately, I am also well aware of the economics involved. EDM is where the money is at the moment, and the festival needs to make a profit to survive. All that being said, Forecastle has done well to balance the good with the necessary evils, and I look forward to my next trip to the waterfront.
By: Joseph Kathmann
Let's address the elephant in the room first: yes, I like Avenged Sevenfold. While the band has tapered off significantly in my opinion on their last two albums, The Stage and Hail to the King, there was a time back in the 2000s when the group was on top of the rock 'n' roll world for me, churning out hits from classic LPs like Waking the Fallen and 2005's City of Evil. The latter got me into Avenged Sevenfold initially, and is one of my favorite albums from that decade. I have many personal memories connected with the band's music, from jamming out to them on break while working the Kings Island Halloween Haunt back in 2008 to having a blast with the instrumentation on various iterations of Rock Band. Unfortunately for me, the feeling of nostalgia has not caught up to the band just yet.
Before we get to the crap shoot that was Avenged Sevenfold, let's talk about the opener, Volbeat. I knew very little about the band going into their set other than the fact that they are far more relevant in the metal world today than Avenged Sevenfold is. It showed-there were almost as many Volbeat shirts in the audience as there were Avenged Sevenfold shirts, and many of those Volbeat shirts disappeared after their set. (I can't hardly blame them either) While I dug their interesting mix of Irish punk music and heavy metal, and could (mostly) appreciate the vocals of frontman Michael Poulsen, the band was otherwise pretty lifeless. It may have been the timing-the band is right in the middle of a massive, nation-wide tour with Avenged Sevenfold, and the Cincy date probably felt tacked on to them because the other band on the tour, Metallica, had to skip out on the date because of Rock on the Range's proximity clause. Regardless, the band's lack of energy combined with a similarity in most of their music made every song in this set sound pretty much the same to me. They had an extended set, too, (because of Metallica's absence) so when their hour long set was done, I was ready to move on. Unfortunately, it proved to be the highlight of the night.
I was hopeful that I was going to have a fun, nostalgia-filled set going into this show. I did lower my expectations significantly when I checked the setlist and saw a total of 3 to 4 songs from their glory years, and tonight proved to be no different: almost the entire set consisted of tracks off their recent albums. I don't mind hearing new material-if a band's on tour to promote a new album, they're going to promote it. But do we really need 11 tracks off your two most recent albums? There were several times, particularly towards the end of the set when the band forced the last two tracks off Hail to the King down our throats, that the crowd was bored out of their minds. The talking around me was louder than the music, which is saying something because it was a freaking metal show. The last two songs were a complete waste of time, time that could've been spent playing tracks their fans actually wanted to hear. And that doesn't even include the totally unnecessary "drum solo" and instrumental jam that took up 10+ minutes of the band's 80 minute set. Seriously? Why waste time on a drum solo when you have seven studio albums under your belt?
The band seems to be in cruise control right now, outside of guitarist Synyster Gates, (who is still an absolute boss and can rip any guitar to shreds) which is a shame because most of these guys are still in their mid-30s. A good example of this lack of care for basically anything occurred during "So Far Away." The band has made that song the tribute song for The Rev, and during the song the band had pictures of the great drummer on the video screen behind them. Touching, right? Until the slideshow looped after exactly five photos. Really, guys? That's all you could muster up? Five photos of The Rev? I guess cameras weren't invented until 2010. Of course this made the slideshow feel half-assed as it looped 45 times during the song. Overall, though, the problems seem to really fall on vocalist M. Shadows. Undeniably the weakest part of the band, Shadows spent most of the set pulling a Jared Leto and having the crowd sing most of his parts. Why is this even a thing? I'm all for audience participation every once in a while from the vocalist, but we paid money to hear you sing, not us. All of this would've probably been forgiven had the song selection been better, but outside of some of their classic singles, which still sound good today because of how young the band is, the set was a frustrating snooze-fest. The dude next to me, who pounded almost 100 ounces of beer in the span of two hours, was more entertaining than Avenged Sevenfold. (Hopefully he's ok....he was obviously stumbling pretty good by the end of the night.) Only in the encore, which featured a personal favorite in "Bat Country" then a rendition of another strong tune "A Little Piece of Heaven," did the band sound like the Avenged Sevenfold I was hoping to see. (There was also a hilariously staged proposal in there but whatever, that's irrelevant) It looks like we still have a few more years until the band realizes that their golden years are behind them and embraces that fact versus trying to fight it. For now, though, avoid this show like the plague. Not even an over-the-hill Metallica could save it.
Hail to the King
So Far Away
Warmness on the Soul (Instrumental Jam)
A Little Piece of Heaven
By: Derek Jung
I was, admittedly, late to discover Jason Isbell. His former band, The Drive-By Truckers, had played Madison Theater in 2013 while I was interning, but Isbell had already departed 6 years prior and I was unable to attend the show. Fast forward 3 years and I stumbled across Isbell's last album, Something More Than Free, and was immediately hooked by his vivid, personal storytelling, rich vocals, and intimate songwriting. Under his own name, Something More Than Free and its predecessor Southeastern were hailed as masterpieces and helped Isbell reach a broader audience. Before this, however, he also had 2 albums under the 400 Unit name. The newest album, The Nashville Sound, is the first under the 400 Unit name since 2011's Here We Rest. So much has happened in Isbell's life since then - marriage, sobriety, fatherhood - that Isbell is a completely new person. Luckily for us, his gifts as a songwriter have only grown.
After a solid opening set from The Mountain Goats, Isbell and crew took the stage at the mostly full PNC Pavilion. The band covered the vast majority of The Nashville Sound, playing seven of the album's ten tracks mixed with material from the previously mentioned non-400 Unit albums. Isbell's vocals are just as moving live as they are on the album, and his guitar playing was surprisingly stellar. His on stage banter was great, telling stories and jokes in between songs and introducing those in the 400 Unit. But it was his interactions with fiddle player Amanda Shires, his wife, that caught my attention the most. I'm not sure if this is just a stage act, but it was as if he was singing every love song directly at her and for her. It was intimate and beautiful, and their rendition of "Cover Me Up" captured everything that I wanted to experience in a single song. It was a magical musical moment.
The band ended their set with "Whipping Post", a tribute to the late Duane Allman, who passed away in late May of this year. Being one of my favorite Allman Brothers songs, I was thrilled to hear Isbell's take on the southern rock classic, and he did not disappoint.
Check out the band's performance of "Hope The High Road" from The Late Show below.
Hope The High Road
Decoration Day (Drive-By Truckers cover)
White Man's World
Chaos and Clothes
The Life You Chose
Last Of My Kind
Flying Over Water
Cover Me Up
If It Takes a Lifetime
Outfit (Drive-By Truckers cover)
If We Were Vampires
Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: