The second day of this amazingly unique festival kicked off with a more optimistic weather outlook. It was a beautiful, partly cloudy day when we arrived at Forecastle well-rested and ready for another day of great bands in a great, positive atmosphere. However, our modest duo was set for more hardships today. In addition to not having clones of ourselves to allow us to cover every band at the festival, my partner in journalizing soon found himself fighting illness.
*All photos by Quinton Caster
This didn’t break our will to cover this festival to the best of our ability in the least, though it did hamstring us a bit later in the day. However, something should still be mentioned about Quinton’s determination to continue and keep this day from ending tragically early.
Now that the formalities are out of the way…MUSIC!
This was my first encounter with the South African natives. I was immediately impressed with this band, and with every passing song, I grew to be even more amazed by them. Their music is best described as alt rock, but that broad label really doesn’t credit the inventive, atmospheric, and frequently haunting audible murals this band bleeds through the speakers. The ambient metal breakdowns mixing with the sometimes grunge rock structuring is impressive in itself. However, in several songs, the lead singer revealed that he has an incredible vocal range that often brought back flashbacks of the late, great Jeff Buckley. At one point, the vocalist also put down his bass mid-song and sat down at a vacant keyboard. Everyone cheered and yelled things like “We love you!!” I was caught in the moment and wanted to yell too, but I wasn’t as clever as those other people. All I could think of was “Ghost man on bass!!”
California-bred alt rockers put on a solid set. Vocalist John McCrea frequently shifted his role from lead vocals to lead conductor, constantly assigning large portions of the audience to sing a simple set of lyrics while assigning another section to perform something else. He prefaced this with something to the effect of, “With the recitation of a few simple, easy to recall lyrics, we can transform this ordinary patch of grass into a slightly more interesting patch of grass.” As an added surprise, Cake performed one of the most interesting covers of “War Pigs” that I have ever heard.
That 1 Guy
I honestly don’t even know where to begin on this one. Looking like a cross between an Amish man and a mad scientist, That 1 Guy is (you guessed it) a one-man band. However, instead of altering existing instruments so that he can play several at a time, he essentially built his instrument from the ground up. Affectionately named “The Magic Pipe,” this 7-foot tall instrument made up of pipes, gears, and cables is easily the most metal instrument ever created (oh, and the pun was extremely, and forcefully intended).
If the instrumentation wasn’t strange enough, That 1 Guy plays a huge variety of musical styles on it. Is he striving for techno industrial rock? Grunged jazz? I can’t say for sure. All I know is it’s incredible to watch. The song titles are simplistic and yet, hilariously clever: “This is the first song in a three-part trilogy about fruit. This one’s called ‘Oranges’.” The most endearing moment in his set was when a girl in the audience yelled out “You’re so weird!” which triggered an ear-to-ear grin and thumbs up from That 1 Guy.
Never did I think I would have the opportunity to see Devo live. Much like their new album, this performance was surprisingly great. The band is still incredibly tight musically, proving that over these approximate 20 years they haven’t aged, but merely matured like fine, electronic, wine.
A sonic feast. Beautiful people creating beautiful music. Minnesota-based Cloud Cult blew me away, both musically and with their simple, yet unique presentation. With a mix of cello and violins added into the mix of guitar, drums, and keys, Cloud Cult at times sounded like a comfortable cross between Godspeed You Black Emperor and Aereogramme. Really though, the comparison was a distant stretch at best, and this band transcends any true genre classifications, which is so very refreshing.
One of the most interesting aspects of their performance was that one of the band members was painting a picture during their set, which was auctioned off after they left the stage. One of the other things I can’t help but note is just how attractive this band is. I apparently wasn’t the only person to notice this, since one audience member exclaimed a proposal of marriage to the keyboardist. Probably would have worked better if he knew her name though. “Keyboards! Will you marry me?!” just doesn’t have that same romantic flare.
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Scotland natives put on a solid set after having to deal with the technical difficulties of the east stage (a common problem that night). With a mostly punk rock-esque vocal style that blends with alt rock instrumentation and occasionally drum and guitar lines that bring about memories of Explosions in the Sky, We Were Promised Jetpacks have a very fresh, enjoyable sound.
Although Cake dredged out feelings of nostalgia, it couldn’t compare to that brought up by the Smashing Pumpkins. The set and the stage flair was all masterfully executed, as would be expected from such an iconic headliner. Hearing a lot of the songs brought up a flood of old memories. I wasn’t the only one either. At the opening of their set, a woman in the crowd was drunkenly yelling: “Iz Nine-deen Nine-dy Sickkkks Bishes!!”
With that, the second day of Forecastle was brought to a beautiful close. I left optimistic about the third day, and yet apprehensive, since it would be the final day and afterward I would be very suddenly and violently plunged back into reality.