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Music lovers find community at Forecastle Festival’s return

Forecastle attendee were excited for a chance to connect with each other and their favorite artists.
Forecastle attendee were excited for a chance to connect with each other and their favorite artists.

Music lovers from across the country gathered at Waterfront Park for the return of Forecastle Festival this weekend.

It's the festival’s first time back in three years, after organizers canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Forecastle’s return brought back some longtime attendees.

Jillian Gerhard, who’s attended the festival since she was 16, said she missed making the connections with other music lovers during the two-year break. 

“I just love the community,” Gerhard said. “And I love the people. I love getting to see different people’s outfits, [to] meet different people. For me, that's what it’s really all about.”

Gerhard said in past years, the community aspect has been what's made Forecastle such a special experience for her. 

“It’s a good opportunity to connect with people and build friendships and build relationships,” she said.

Gerhard said this year’s festival felt like a celebration of sorts, after a tumultuous couple of years. 

Mark Smalls, another Louisville native, shared a similar sentiment.

“With everything going on right now in the country, all the things going on in the world, it’s nice to have a local event that you want to feel safe in and feel good in,” Smalls said.

Despite being a Louisville-grown festival, many Forecastle attendees were from out of town.

Andrea Vargas and Erika Hardeman traveled from New York. Tame Impala was one of the main acts that caught their attention.

The pair said even though they aren’t locals, they felt a connection with other festival-goers.

“That’s why I like festivals. A lot of my core friend groups are people I’ve met at festivals,” Hardeman said.  

Both Vargas and Hardeman said they’re happy Forecastle and other music festivals are coming back after two years of pandemic-related restrictions.

Excitement about connecting with fellow music lovers was a big draw for many of the festival’s attendees.

Another set of out-of-town visitors, Danielle Phan and Rachel Dixon, were there to celebrate Phan’s graduation. As a former theater student, Phan said she understands how a live and engaged audience is special for the performers, too.

“It’s really nice because I feel like it’s important for artists to be able to connect with their fans via concerts. Like, it’s a different experience to see them right in front of you,” Phan said.

This year’s Forecastle lineup featured Phoebe Bridgers, Tyler the Creator and Louisville-native Jack Harlow. 

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.