While LCD Soundsystem on day two was something I looked forward to for weeks, day three of the festival was by far the most jam-packed with big names and I couldn’t wait to get started. The soul man himself, the Screaming Eagle of Soul better known as Charles Bradley commanded the stage. While he may be a few pounds lighter after fighting for his life over the last year, he didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Wearing a full jumpsuit, studded to the hilt, adding that extra flare he’s famous for, fans melted in his presence (and not from the heat like you might suspect); they just wanted to hear him sing and watch as he serenaded them with outstretched arms and work his magic. He really can bring a room to its knees with his charm.
Let’s talk about Foxygen. For some, they may seem a bit out there and you’re not quite sure how to digest the combo of a crazy stage show with airy seventies rock. You might feel a little lost and almost crazy watching front man Sam France wend, slide and jump his way around the stage as the music floats around you like a cloud of pot smoke. Then if you settle in, stop trying to figure it out and “get in the groove man” the experience can be a lot of fun. It’s not for everyone, but with France as visual entertainment and bandmate Jonathan Rado easily slinking up and down the keyboards, they’re sort of hard to resist if you happen to be hanging out near the stage at a festival like this.
Forecastle Music Fest prides itself on two things: environmental activism and a family friendly atmosphere. I was excited to bring on a new member to the KEXP festival crew; one four-year-old by the name of Jane who was excited to step in and help out with the reviews. I decided to bring Jane on for a couple hours to test out the family-friendly claim and the first set I asked her about was Conor Oberst. While it was hot enough to bring on a whine or two, she was ready to dance at a moments notice. I was hedging my bets that an acoustic performance like Oberst’s might be up her alley so I asked her after Oberst had played around half of his set if she liked him. I got a firm “No.” When I asked why, she said “He’s boring.” Harsh. Maybe he’s not a four-year-old’s cup of tea, but I’ve been a long-time fan of his and while he may look older than when I first discovered his music for myself, the distinct warble is still there and the meaningful, heart-wrenching lyrics are ever-present.
While Jane and my co-writer Amie took a quick popsicle break, I headed over to the Adia Victoria set. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect despite having spent a little time grabbing her portrait earlier in the day. I was quickly blown away by a dynamic performance from the talented front-woman thrusting her pick across the strings of her guitar and a dusky voice pulling together a delicious combination of blues, southern soul, and rock. The crowd for this performance was way too small, possibly due to the combo of its distant location, the heat, and other acts performing. Either way, she is not a performer to be missed next time she’s in town, wherever you hang your hat.
I hooked back up with our mini-reviewer to talk shop about the PJ Harvey set. I didn’t get much response (she was enjoying the last bits of her popsicle) but walking toward them after capturing the set with my camera, I noticed some serious dancing going on. I think we can take that as a rave review no matter what age you are. It was a lot of fun seeing Harvey back in action after so many years and she must have been pumping iron because she held up an alto saxophone on her right side for at least 10 minutes while she sang, only occasionally playing the instrument. Impressive. With flowing hands and arms she added grace to her stage presence after setting down the sax and concentrating on vocals. One of my favorite songs, “Blue Eyed Girl” made the cut, but not until nearly the end of the set; no complaining here. It’s great to hear classics, but if I didn’t get any new material I’d have to wonder why she’d bother starting up live performances again.
As for the kid-friendly atmosphere of the fest, I think we can give that a big thumbs up. With the abundance of food trucks ranging from typical items like hot dogs and burgers to lobster rolls, sushi, and chicken & biscuits, you can’t go wrong. There were lots of places to lay down to give yourself a rest both in and out of the sun. Small wooden waves were littering the grounds as back rests and they worked like a charm. Overall, I got a big thumbs up from our littlest reviewer and her mom.
Spoon was my next to last stop on the final day of the fest. They were, as ever, a crowd pleaser. Seriously, that description fits them to a tee. It’s rare that you’ll find someone who says “Oh, I hate Spoon,” because there’s bound to be at least one or two songs from their whopping nine albums that you’ve enjoyed at one time of your life or another. Most likely there are a ton more, which is why it felt like everyone was leaning back and soaking in the last few moments of their music-filled weekend with a smile on their face.
Last but not least is Weezer. If you’ve ever had a chat with me on the topic of Weezer, you probably got an earful about the solidity of some albums and the annoyingly sugar-filled pop catering to the masses and sheer lack soul of others. What I keep forgetting, and something a fellow photographer described perfectly, is “just how damn much I love watching them play”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a fan since “The Sweater Song” or caught on when the Black Album came out… their music grabs you by the teenage angst and pulls you in every single time. Seriously, try to fight it, it’s futile. It was a fantastically fun way to end this festival. The sky was a pinkish hue, the crowd was donning their =W= hand signs and we were all swept away into the land of smiles and shaking butts.
While the lineup is what really brought me to Forecastle Music Festival, to begin with, I left feeling a little more connected to my hometown, a little more sad to leave it again for my other home by the sea, and a lot more excited to return for more… maybe even as early as next year! Be sure to check out the final day's photos over on Flickr.
It's Friday night at the Showbox and there's a singer on stage waltzing through "My Favorite Things" from The Sound Of Music and at the end of her final stanza, the band behind her crash in and a Danny Brown verse recited by Spank Rock (perhaps one of the only rappers who could conceivably match ...
Another year of Capitol Hill Block Party has arrived, bringing with it a sea of bro-tank tops, increased public intoxication, and a variety of local and national music acts. The music of Day 1 was quite good, with sets from Noname, Thundercat, and Katie Kate starting off the festival on an upbeat...