Magic, music and mayhem is about everything one could anticipate when planning a trip to Voodoo Fest in New Orleans on All Hallows Eve weekend. Wandering the haunted streets of a town whose liberal alcohol consumption laws almost literally allows it to flow like milk and honey is a dangerous thought for anyone looking to rage the dead. But, when it comes to what has in recent past been growing as Americas most decadent and risqué holiday, the combination of these elements posed to be one of the most attractive and wildest parties you could possibly attend throughout the year.
So, it has been a week since the 2 out of 3 days of Voodoo Fest 2015 have wrapped up (one day lost due to flooding)
and I have been taken my time with digesting the experience and the thought of festival season coming to a close. There were some conflicting factors, however, to the entire fest that it has made my job just a bit more difficult. The only way I can explain it, I feel, is to break it down by category of what makes a festival, a festival.
Location. I think it stands alone to say that you really couldn’t ask for a better place to celebrate a music festival Halloween party. So,…Boom! a winner every year.
People. Over all the crowd was chill not overly rowdy but definitely there to party. The VIP area was a great oasis if you needed a place to sit down or wanted to get mad close to the main stage. But, outside of that, barely any one stayed behind VIP lines. There was so much awesomeness happening on the stages that the intermingling of credentials was like peanut butter and jelly, everyone just melded and it felt good. Beyond that there were some pretty creative costumes. My favorite was actually pretty simple a man with a pair of Ray Bans dressed like a piece of bacon. …hehe…Bacon gets me every time.
Installations. Now, here I can’t say much. There were some interesting pieces, but overall we could tell the money didn’t go into the commissions of new art. Although, I had some high hopes we can’t really say that the “art” side of this experience was breath taking. A metal sculpture of a face, a Spider illuminated from the inside with LEDs and an inflatable Globe that was projected upon by four surrounding visualizers, but that’s it. Maybe, we were spoiled by the E. FOREST, but I couldn’t really sense the focus being on this side of our experience. Although, when you think about it, given the musical history of this great city it really was no surprise.
Logistics. Now, here I was pretty impressed. When first entering City Park you were given a long walk from the transport drop off that took you along a gorgeous lagoon out front of the NOLA Modern Art Museum or under a natural trestle of southern oaks romancing the beauty of this part of our country. Given the way that the perimeter was naturally utilized this helped side step any traffic jams and made the exodus more pleasant than feeling like herded cattle. The same goes for the entrance gate, quick and easy. Bathrooms were a plenty and clean. It didn’t seem that anyone had a problem with this in any way. The grounds themselves were stellar, literally gorgeous. As far as policing, I saw nor heard any problems with security, and if there were, they managed it well enough that no word was spread. As far as health and safety they had Med tents in all corners of the venue, but none of them were filled, so, kudos to the people for not being idiots but also to the staff for giving us a safety net just in case. Also, there were several Handi-impared specialist, volunteers that made the experience of the fest accessible, in multiple stations placed to give even the most mobily restricted individual the best possible time. The vendors were awesome. Mainly fried foods but the selection was worth the food coma. Stages were easy to get to, with minimal sound bleeding between them, but the La Plur (electronic stage) had issues all weekend. Every time we walked up to the stage the sound was low, almost intolerably low. Even during Giorgio Moroder’s set they were working to get the sound up and running. But, to no avail. The rains set in and killed the third day so even if they did figure the problem out we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to experience it. Water was aplenty, (understatement due to the weather) so no one went dehydrated. I think a testament to the organization of Voodoo was that when the weather flooded the grounds on the third day and there, literally, was no way for anyone to enjoy, the organization sent out a notice saying that they would refund one third of the fee to all ticket holders. Well done, given that mother nature was hell bent on keeping everyone out of the park that day.
Finally, music. Lets just say we know where the money went. Given the line up that they had this year, and almost every year before, the acts that Voodoo provides is nothing short of an eclectic treasure trove of sonic candy feeding every shade of your grey matter. Ozzy, Florence, Santigold, Metric, Duke Dumont, Zhu, The Joy Formidable, Lettus, Modest Mouse, Jauz, Django Django, Yelawolf, and the living legend that is Giorgio Moroder (if you don’t know who he is then come out from under that rock and consult the oracle Giorgio Moroder)
The standout performances were primarily on the ALTER stage. This would be the main event stage for the most part. All the big acts found themselves making their mark on City Park here. Friday night’s headliners brought their “A” game.
Jack Ü was limited somewhat by the faltering sound of the La Plur stage , while Modest Mouse was as odd and out there as we know and love him to be.
Earlier Metric and The Joy Formidable (check out their Cheeky interview here)ran you along the edge of rock and a soft space. But, Florence; Florence was as gracefully powerful as ever.
Then, topping it off with Odezsa’s after party at the Joy Theater.
Saturday was just as amazing with Lettuce remaining as crispy as always and Santigold inviting over a hundred audience members to take the stage with her and dance, as she had done the day before at an intimate performance for VH1 Save the Music (see “A Heart of Santigold” article here.) The pinnacle of the entire experience, however, was most anticipated performance of the weekend:
Ozzy with Geezer Butler, Slash, and Tom Morello. Holy Sh$%! And I mean Holy Sh$%! This was by far the most amazing live show that I had ever seen. The sheer star power on that stage was face melting. This display of artistry was well beyond the depths of years of practice. It was for lack of a better word transcendent and it was the only American date. Truly an honor to have experienced it. We took the chance to speak to a few key artists, over the course of our two days, that we have been keeping gently on our radar as they have been rising in the ranks. I guess overall I can say we had a killer time despite weather and some logistics that could have been smoother, given their fifteenth years. That said, I would definitely go back and re-rage the dead in NOLA.