When was the last time you watched “Meatballs”? Bill Murray’s first movie, full of summer camp hijinks that consequently launched a thousand ripoffs across the next decade, has become known as much for its gags as it has its theme song. Performed by the North Star Camp Kids, it’s a battle cry more than a question. “Are you ready for the summer?” Of course we’re ready. Not just for the sunshine and birds and bees, hot nights and fireflies, but the bevy of concerts that are about to hit our fair city.
Once a live show wasteland, Louisville has stepped up its game more and more in the last few years. But this year feels like it’s stacking up to be so much bigger than we’ve seen yet. I, for one, am more than ready.
Our first hints came in the blitz of Iroquois Amphitheater announcements. Ryan Adams & Jenny Lewis on stage together. JJ Grey and Mofro making a return trip. Death Cab For Cutie back from the brink in a new trio-style setup (Chris Walla is out). Wilco on their 20th anniversary tour. Neutral Milk Hotel being bounced to the big show after a flash sellout. And they’re all within a month of each other! You may as well grab a sleeping bag and enjoy the stars for a few weeks.
Then the Forecastle lineup came. My Morning Jacket tops the bill after having already announced not one, but TWO albums on the way. Modest Mouse finally peeking out of their hole after an extended sabbatical. Widespread Panic for the folks who were sure DMB was coming. And a supreme undercard that features plenty of local love from Houndmouth, White Reaper and Twin Limb.
And Sam Smith. In fact, let me take a second to quote Tom Petty and say “About the Sam Smith thing.” What’s with the backlash Louisville? Is it because he was announced as a headliner? If he had been dropped in under Tweedy and The Tallest Man on Earth, would you just have ignored it? I mean, I was surprised at the venom spewed on the socials with the mention of his name. Are you really going to let one name ruin your weekend? Because I’ll bet a dime to a dollar you can still find at least half a dozen bands or more that you’re looking forward to seeing. (We’re talking about you, Diarrhea Planet). Seriously, lay your hatred down. A top notch festival that’s built its reputation nationwide as a music-packed love letter to Louisville, celebrating all of our natural awesomeness far and wide, and you got a little pissy because a “pop” guy is on the bill. Let’s not forget, he got his start with Disclosure. He spent a lot of time working on the independent circuit. And yes, maybe his most famous forlorn plea has a melody cribbed from the original Heartbreaker (a different article entirely), but the guy has paid his dues. I know, we’re all a bit tired of that song, but do like the Disney song and let it go.
And oh! WFPK hasn’t even announced the Waterfront Wednesday series yet, so you’ll still be able to add that onto your calendar. Six months, three bands a bill, fifteen thousand friends, all for free. That thing has grown bigger than I think anyone ever imagined. I’ve had so many unforgettable nights on the Big Four Lawn and always think it can’t get any bigger, but it does very time. Stacy Owen gets huge props for taking that from its humble beginnings to the behemoth it is now. She’s still hard at work securing the lineup, but I can already promise that you’re going to be happy.
On top of all of that, we still get several shows a week at Headliners, Mercury, Zanzabar, Haymarket, New Vintage, The Palace, The Clifton, KCA, KCD and The Brown. Speaking of that last one, who’s amped to see St. Vincent? Her last time here with David Byrne was only a taste of what’s in store. You make it through this one and you’ll be talking about it in the same way you did with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
“Are you ready for the good times?” Yes. Yes I am.
Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.