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Forecastle Festival 2015: Indie Rock Highlights

Sam Wilkerson of White Reaper, Forecastle Festival 2015

This year, we were privileged enough to have the opportunity to cover Louisville's one-of-a-kind Forecastle Festival! The heat was humid, the sun was simmering, and the Waterfront Park was full of life, energy, and pure self-expression through creativity and sound. If you're a regular festival-goer, you'll know that it's nearly impossible to catch every band; due to overlapping sets, distance between stages, and the general excitement in the atmosphere, during the daytime you may find yourself wandering about and taking it all in. This time is perhaps my favorite part of any festival: discovering new bands, future chart-toppers, and songs that are a little different and suddenly more inspiring than what you had already heard before. 

Yes, My Morning Jacket sounded superb, Modest Mouse got the crowd roaring, and across-the-river Indiana favorites Houndmouth channelled some some classic mixture of folk and soul vibes, but let's take a moment to explore some of the unexpected talents from over the weekend. Here are just a few of the lesser-known bands and artists that should be on your radar:


Although Canadian rockers Alvvays may be far from Louisville, when listening to their 2014 debut album, you don’t have to look to far to find some sun-drenched 60s vibes and indie guitar fuzz. Singer Molly Rankin’s voice may sound small and sweet but holds a powerful echo during the band’s live shows. Alvvays was a quick highlight of Forecastle as one of the bands new to the many Festival-goers who were no doubt impressed. Click here to listen: “Archie, Marry Me.”

King Tuff

Vermont-based artist King Tuff – real name Kyle Thomas – brings old-school rock and roll back with thunderous guitar riffs that take the audience by storm. His latest record, Black Moon Spell, is an electrifying blend of retro-rock sounds with a modern indie twist. His live performance at Forecastle, late night on Sunday, was one of the best ways to end a perfect weekend of great music. Click here to listen: album title-track “Black Moon Spell.”

JEFF the Brotherhood

Nashville garage-rockers JEFF the Brotherhood have been around for quite a while, their debut album released in 2002. But they have consistently released albums for the past decade or so, their latest, Wasted on the Dream, being from earlier this year. Their live show at Forecastle ascertained their style as a swirling combination of hard rock and psychedelia, complete with the smug – yet catchy – lyrics that make their songs instantly memorable. Click here to listen: “Bummer.”

Twin Peaks

Chicago rockers Twin Peaks are still practically just out of high school, and had recorded their first album in guitarist Cadien Lake James’ basement in 2012 before even graduating. Their follow up, 2014’s Wild Onion, gave them more time and freedom to write songs while already having released music through an LA-based indie label. They have been touring the country since then, entertaining crowds with their crazy guitar antics and enthusiasm for some good ol’ over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll spirit. Their music says it all, too. Click here to listen: “I Found A New Way.”

White Reaper

There was a clear sense of local pride over the weekend for Louisville punk rockers White Reaper, whose brand new album White Reaper Does It Again has already gotten some notable airplay on college radio stations nationally. This is a rock band in full force ready to get the crowd up and moving, even having a Grim Reaper dancing onstage with them at one point. Although I wish them continued national success, I can’t wait to see more of their shows in the region. Click here to listen: “Pills.”

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