The 2023 Bourbon & Beyond musical lineup is loaded from top to bottom. This is sure to be an amazing four days of live music, September 14-17, at the Highland Festival Grounds At Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY.
About the Bourbon & Beyond Music Festival:
Bourbon & Beyond is more than just a music festival. In addition to a stellar lineup of musical acts, the four-day event features tons of opportunities for Bourbon lovers to do tastings or drink some unique cocktails, as well as enjoy some interesting culinary experiences. However, this is a music blog, so let’s get started by talking about the bands playing at Bourbon & Beyond in 2023:
Let’s start with the one that East of 8th hasn’t had the chance to see before: Bruno Mars. Like many of you, we can’t wait to cross this one off our concert experience wish list. A melting pot of stylistic influences, Mars is known for up-tempo pop music that leans heavily into the realms of soul and R&B. We could continue to write about Mars, but you already probably know many of his hits including “24K Magic,” “Finesse,” and of course, “Uptown Funk.”
Saturday at Bourbon & Beyond is going to be filled with blues rock thanks to Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys. This is a band East of 8th has seen several times and they have yet to disappoint. This is also going to be the first time we get to hear songs from their latest album, Dropout Boogie, in concert.
How loud is the sing-along going to be when the Killers play Mr. Brightside? How crazy is the crowd going to be during “Somebody Told Me” and “When You Were Young?” Let’s not forget the guilty thrill we get listening to their quirky hit, “Human.” You just know this is going to be a fun show.
Thursday night is going to be a great transition into the four days of music as singer/songwriter phenom, Brandi Carlile leads off the weekend’s headliners. This is Carlile’s second year in a row and Bourbon & Beyond, but first in the headlining role. If you haven’t heard her vocals for “The Joke” in person yet, you’ve seriously missed out on an experience.
Other Acts We Can’t Wait To See:
There’s honestly too many to name! We feel guilty making a list because we know we’re going to leave off some great artists.
Starting with artists we haven’t seen before, there’s going to be the classic sounds of Duran Duran and Blondie. Of course, if there was one name that jumped out as a surprise act, it would have to be Wayne Newton.
Additionally, Bourbon & Beyond is going to get us back to see several artists we’ve enjoyed before. Psych-bluegrass start Billy Strings always puts on an amazing show. Buddy Guy and Mavis Staples always perform like the legends they are. You could see Old Crow Medicine Show 100 times and it would never get old. Spoon has been holding down the indie rock scene for as long as we’ve listened to indie rock. Maggie Rose is sure to win you over with her rock and soul magic. For Americana fans, The Avett Brothers, First Aid Kit, Fantastic Negrito, and Danielle Ponder will make your day. And literally, so many more…
What About The Bourbon?
The event puts the word “bourbon” first in its name for good reason. For an additional cost, the Kroger Big Bourbon Bar is going to let you try a little bit of everything. If this year’s Bourbon Bar is like last year’s, it is going to be a wall of distillers all serving their products both neat and in signature cocktails. Additionally, many of the distillers have stands around the festival to interact with the brands and try unique drinks.
What’s Different At Bourbon & Beyond?
One of the first things that you will notice when entering the festival grounds is that it looks like there’s only one gigantic stage. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that it is two stages side by side. Once the music starts for the day, the neighboring stages take turns hosting the bands. That means limited downtime and the only time music overlaps is when an artist is playing at the Bluegrass Situation Stage. In other words, you won’t have to decide whether to see Brandi Carlile or Billy Strings. Instead, Billy Strings will end his set and about 10 minutes later, Carlile will start her set on the neighboring stage.
Any Pro Tips For Bourbon and Beyond?
We went (as civilians, not press) to Bourbon & Beyond in 2022 and we definitely have some tips:
First, camping or staying in a hotel near the festival grounds will make a world of difference. Louisville is a smaller city and seems to have a quieter nightlife than we’re used to here in Nashville. That means less Uber and Lyft drivers to get you there or take you home. We HIGHLY recommend looking at camping options or hotel packages which you can see on the Bourbon & Beyond website here. At least last year, camping is very limited. We slept on buying a camping pass last year and missed out. So if that is the way you want to go, plan accordingly.
Second, if you can’t stay onsite or nearby, study those Louisville maps. There are hotels concentrated downtown and in neighborhoods around the city. Pay attention to where you are booking because if you stay where there’s few entertainment options, there will again be less Lyft and Uber availability.
Our third pro tip is to consider how important it is to you to be close to the stage. Bourbon & Beyond has several ticket options which you can see in more detail here. As you can see on the festival map, there’s a VIP area between the soundboard tent and the stage. If you want access to that area, you must purchase a VIP pass that gives you that option. We spent most of our time last year in the General Admission viewing areas and didn’t miss a thing. However, we know some of you want that experience of being up close and may want to upgrade to the VIP options.
Our fourth pro tip is about lawn chairs. Some festivals allow them, some do not. Many festivals that allow them either allow complete chaos or relegate the chairs to a section way in the back. Bourbon & Beyond, tries to find a balance by selling chair passes to allow some lawn chairs in to an area towards the middle of the field, but control the chaos. The cost of the lawn chair pass goes to charity. You can find more information about the passes here. Of course, for many of us from Music City, we just can’t bring ourselves to enjoy a concert unless we’re standing in the back, arms crossed.
How Do I Get Tickets?
Tickets are on sale now. There are several options including General Admission and two tiers of VIP. As noted above, the biggest perk in our minds of the VIP is access to the closer viewing areas in front of the stages. You can look at all of the festival pass options on the Bourbon & Beyond website here. We hope to see you there!