When I go into a new city or state, I always try to listen to the sounds that are synonymous with said place as a pre-cursor. Venturing down to New Orleans for Voodoo Experience, for some strange reason, I always pictured walking off the plane to Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Born On A Bayou”, but that didn’t happen (I could have also went Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Chile”). Nevertheless, I was more than happy to meet the southern sun and humidity in my splendor to cover the Voodoo Experience this year. Here’s the thing – I’m a huge Halloween enthusiast. Not to the lengths of having a Jack Skeleton tattoo (yet), but virtually every day in October is Halloween to me.
The first day, in particular was spent trying to get acquainted with City Park, which is a big and beautiful epicenter through these quiet neighborhoods. From where I parked you could hear the music, so that’s usually when the “I’m here” anticipation starts. Entry wasn’t that bad at all. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories regarding other festivals and wait times, but I was able to get through with my camera pretty quickly.
What initially drew me to this festival, in addition to the goal of having my first ever catfish po boy, was the diverse lineup. The complaints this year in terms of U.S. festivals were the lack of originally and overlap. With VooDoo, you had acts that did not appear on many lineups, so you get more bang for your buck. The festival was filled with sponsor regalia and art from various people in the New Orleans area. The only thing that was missing was the brass bands, but then again, that’s what the French Quarter is for.
The acts were spaced in such a way that you could catch a good portion of their sets. Hundred Waters have been a personal favorite of mine and it was good to see people out there in a trance-like vibe seeing them play. I had seen The Joy Formidable for the first time while I was covering Riot Fest Chicago, so it was a pleasure to catch them again. If you haven’t seen them yet, I would check them out soon. They’re such a fun band to watch.
At this time it was starting to get darker, and with daylight savings time on the horizon, you start to get partly happy about the hour extra of sleep and partly sad that it is going to be dark by 5 PM. Raging until the dying of the sunlight, I caught sets from Metric, Alesso, and Yelawolf. Alesso was the first EDM act that I got to see and he didn’t disappoint. Chances are, if you dabbled in the electronic music genre, you’ve either heard an Alesso remix or song. The “Le Plur” stage started to fill up a little more after that fact.
The two main events of the night were Jack U and Florence + The Machine. In all honesty, these were the acts that I was anticipating the most. Up to that point, I had seen Skrillex and Diplo separately a bunch of times and friends told me that seeing Florence + The Machine was akin to a religious experience. I had to see what the hype was about. Luckily, I was approved to take pictures of both artists. What??
Jack U, as they do on their debut album, make it impossible to stand still. Keeping with the Halloween theme, both Skrillex and Diplo were dressed in black sheets embroiled with their trademark U. Mixing their own tracks with songs from their collaboration album, the show was a great one. Once that ended, I had to run back in my Vans to meet up for the photo pit for Florence. I don’t know if it was religious, but Florence + The Machine put on a damn good performance. The songs I took pictures of in particular were “Ship To Wreck” and “Shake It Off”. Decking out in Sally face paint from The Nightmare Before Christmas, she was as active as ever doing pirouettes across the stage. The first night was a success and I got my Po Boy. This was a pretty good start to a Halloween I would never forget.
The remaining days however, were a bit of a washout. I had heard that rains were coming, but this was pretty bad. On the 2nd day, despite how many rain sleeves I brought, I gave my camera a bit of a rest to keep things on the dry side. I got to catch acts like Veridia, Joywave, and Duke Dumont, and we braved the mud all the way for Ozzy Osbourne. Imagine watching Ozzy Osbourne play with Tom Morello, Slash, and Geezer Butler on Halloween. It was perfect. The last day not so much, as it was unfortunately rained out.
I always knew there was something special about the city of New Orleans. I might have to venture out again sometime.