They do not call this three day festival an experience for nothing. Where else can you sit and listen to the hick-cock-rock of Blackberry Smoke and then a few hours later be listening to My Morning Jacket, all while sitting between Oscar The Grouch and an emo kid puking his guts up.
Born and bred in New Orleans in 1999, Voodoo Fest has grown into more than just music and food. It’s a way of life for three days. You live it, you breathe it, you puke it up and start all over again the next morning. Traditionally held around Halloween, this witches brew of eclecticity draws mostly the young to worship, but with performers like Ozzy Osbourne and a good feast of blues, jazz and rock, it is now growing almost as popular with the over-forty crowd as the hallowed Jazz Fest; although Voodoo will always be the undeniable wild little sister.
The lineup for 2010 just goes to prove that Muse, My Morning Jacket, Drake and MGMT are the reigning gods of music at this moment in time. Ozzy, with the simple act of opening his arms, held court as the Grand Marshall, while Cage The Elephant stage dived themselves into becoming the next big thing.
The smaller stages were where you found the music with a lot more heart and soul. Anders Osborne
playing with the Stanton Moore Trio
caused the hair on your arms to stand straight up. Shannon McNally, the husky-voiced singer-songwriter, and Chrissie Hynde, performing with JP Jones and their band The Fairground Boys, kicked ass during their sets, proving women know how to rock, often harder than their male counterparts. Add New Orleans hometown girl Mia Borders to the club when she snarled out a throbbing NIN “Closer To God” like it was meant for a woman to sing, and caused all the men in the Voodoo crowd to perk up their ears.
Opening day Friday was a good indication of what lay ahead for the festival: thousands of people, a good percentage of them in costume, bright sunny skies, and nonstop great music. The first show of the day that caught my ears was the fantastic Stanton Moore Trio featuring Anders Osborne at the Preservation Hall stage. Dressed in a red plaid shirt and full graying beard swaying in the breeze, Anders absolutely tore up the place. Stanton came alive on the drums, while barely able to contain himself on his seat, and Anders flew to high heaven with guitar playing that shot blues-psychedelia straight into your veins. There was no better way to kick start Voodoo Fest 2010.Dead Confederate
over on the main stage late in the afternoon without a doubt had the most energetic drummer of the festival. Jason Scarboro banged and kicked like he was fighting to save the world while vocalist Hardy Morris shyly sang gothically hypnotic songs behind long bangs. Singing songs from their first couple of albums, “The Rat” was powerful while their last song “Tortured Artist Saint” pushed them into another stratosphere altogether. Jonsi and Metric
followed on the main stages, serving up techno psycho babble for the emo set. Wearing a headdress and serving up music in his own avant-garde way, Jonsi almost lulled the audience into a trance before Canada’s Metric blasted it open again with their brand of high vocal synth. Weezer
gave probably the most fun performance of the weekend. Rivers Cuomo was all over the place, jumping into the crowd and challenging Muse, who were about to perform on the main stage across from them: “I raise my humble acoustic guitar to the gods … I see Muse’s laser lights – they’re trying to destroy us!!!” At one point when starting “a new song we’ve never played before”, Rivers noticed that somebody was in the wrong key thus stopping the song before it ever really got started. But once they finally kicked in it was Weezer Tv for the masses and “close enough for alternative rock & roll”.
was starting with their retina killing lasers and huge visual screens. Taking the stage in a silver suit, Matthew Bellamy took the audience on a wild ride of spectacle that compared to no one else in the Voodoo lineup. If that is what the festival head honchos were going for, they sure delivered by having Muse close out the first night with a heavy earsplitting bang.
Saturday brought even more people and more sunshine. Michael Tolcher
played the number two stage, aka Sony, with a soothing brand of love pop singer-songwriter style followed by the funky bluesy rock of Mia Borders on the main stage. Singing the aforementioned NIN song and “Use Me”, she commanded attention and got it without ever going over the top to do so. The Rebirth Brass Band over in the more shaded area of the SOCO stage, was pumping out music that caused young and old to do the proverbial “we’re not worthy” bow.
And then came Cage The Elephant
. Like Iggy Pop, lead vocalist and main attraction Matthew Shultz herked and jerked all over the stage before diving into the open arms of those below him. Evoking the spirit of Jim Morrison, after swimming across to the sound tent, he climbed atop and summoned his people to coax him down in one big leap. Playing their three most well known songs to date, “Back Against The Wall”, “In One Ear”, and “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”, they will fast become THE band to watch when their new CD appears in the new year.
Florence and the Machine and Street Sweeper Social Club bookended probably THE most popular artist at Voodoo: Drake
. He had the youth totally transfixed in the palm of his hand. He shouted they shouted. He sang they sang. It was incredible to watch the magnetic hold that this young man has over his fans.Ozzy
will always and forever be Ozzy. Spreading his arms wide inviting adulation and smiling his evil happy grin, cussing and coaxing cheers and waves, the old Prince of Darkness will never go out of favor. Whether spraying the audience or jumping up and down like a crazy jack in the box, the experience of Ozzy is something not to be missed. Singing classics like “Mr Crowley”, “Crazy Train”, “Ironman” and “Suicide Solution”, his band split eardrums; especially new guitarist Gus G, trying his best to live up to Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde. No better way to close out Saturday night, in my humble opinion.
I’m not saying that Sunday was a bit of a let down, but it seemed to start slowly but finally built up speed to an out of this world climax featuring MGMT and My Morning Jacket. Shannon McNally started late on the SOCO stage while Chrissie Hynde started early. And Blackberry Smoke switched stages altogether. So you had to be paying attention on this last day. Minus The Bear and Interpol both seemed out of place playing in the blaring hot sun. MGMT,
dressed as the Scooby gang, hypnotized their crowd before the older guys of the fabulous Preservation Hall Jazz Band kept up with a high speeding My Morning Jacket, culminating in an “older tune you may know so sing along” called “Carnival Time”, a New Orleans Mardi Gras favorite. Being their last show before “going into hibernation”, Jim James and his gang wanted to make sure no one went home disappointed.
A success in every sense of the word, Voodoo Fest has signed on to stay at New Orleans’ City Park through 2019. That’s a lot more chances to see a lot more music all in one place. Not to mention a lot more chances to dress up like Waldo and puke in the grass.