October 27, 2008

Voodoo Fest In Review

In many ways, it is what I like to call "babysteps for Bonnaroo." It is a three-day, multi-genre destination featuring many established and up-and-coming bands and artists. While Voodoo Fest doesn't offer near the amount of artists like that of larger music festivals, it packs a punch with its locale and diversity. Offering fans a festive celebration of New Orleans culture, the festival takes place each year in historic City Park, amidst lush lagoons, bayous, and one of the largest collections of live oak trees in the world. This year marked Voodoo's tenth consecutive year in New Orleans. National and local acts shared the three large stages and three smaller performance areas that constituted the festival's sprawling presence in the park.

Noted headliners included Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Wilco, Lil' Wayne, TV on the Radio, and Wyclef Jean. The festival also featured some of the best names in jazz and funk including the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In addition, local performers like Cowboy Mouth, Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and The New Orleans Bingo! Show speckled the line-up throughout the weekend.

Now, here's who I saw & what I saw over the three day span...

Who I Saw: One Man Machine, The Witch Bitch, Ray Bong, Zydepunks, The Dirtbombs, TV on the Radio, Wyclef Jean, Man Man, Eykah Badu (sort of). Stone Temple Pilots, My Graveyard Jaw, Ratty Scurvics Singularity, Lil' Wayne, Nine Inch Nails, Rotary Downs, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Panic! At The Disco (not by choice), and R.E.M. :)

Who I Wanted To See: Reverend Horton Heat, The Bad Off, New Orleans Bingo! Show, MC Tracheotomy, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Ballzack, Manwich, Fleur De Tease Burlesque, Bones, Shudder To Think (!), Fishbone (!), and The Knux :(

Day 1 – Friday, October 24

ATM Fee: $5. Fuck that noise.

Weirdest Festival attractions: Permanent tattoo/piercing parlour, Psychic fortune teller and tarot card reader, Planned Parenthood awareness tent, and an on-site smoker's lounge.

Most expensive beer: 16oz. can of Beck's for $7. Again, fuck that noise.

Most expensive band t-shirt: Stone Temple Pilots - $35. Last year, Smashing Pumpkins tee went for $40 –the same price of a one-day pass last year –prior to Ticketmaster's wallet-raping fees.

Peformance Letdowns: Not being an avid listener of Stone Temple Pilots, I'm not sure what I expected, but I was severely underwhelmed. I know wanted more than what Weiland and the boys gave on me Friday. Plus, the whole time I was kind of hoping they would play "Slither." Wait...opps, wrong band.

Day 2 – Saturday, October 25

The Dirtbombs: On Saturday afternoon I caught the Dirtbombs on the Playstation stage. It was interesting to watch them play, because they are also one of the most racially and instrumentally diverse bands in rock-n-roll. The lead singer is this black guy that's probably in his late-40s, two drummers that play in perfect sync, and a petite Asian woman on rhythm/lead guitar. Their tunes were relentless, loud, and brash song after song. Their 60s-style garage rock never let up, and each song melted into the next. The band drew a pretty sizable crowd too, including three members from indie-rock sensation and Voodoo Fest headliner, TV on the Radio (guitarist Kyp Malone, guitarist David Sitek, and drummer Jaleel Bunton).

For the set's finale, one of the drummers grabbed a tom drum from his set and made a mad dash for the other drummer's set before standing atop its kick drum. After tossing the loose tom drum in the air a few times, he finally came crashing down onto the other drummer, dismantling the drumset almost entirely. However, his did not stop the two from playing a synchronized drumbeat with the single drum that was left standing. I have a feeling they would have kept going, but the stage crew literally took the drums from underneath them.

Weed Fest '08?: I noticed an inordinate amount of glass pipes and bongs being sold on-site. Hmm...

Artists that made an on-stage political stance: Wyclef Jean, Nine Inch Nails, and (on Sunday) R.E.M. were among the artists who made clear their support for Barack Obama, with his "Hope" campaign poster appearing briefly on the video screen behind them during performances. During a freestyle rap, Jean worked in Obama's name numerous times, and he asserted that, if elected president, he would provide everyone with quality education, and bring the troops back from Iraq.

The Mars Volta: Saturday night Mars Volta vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who is renowned for his wild on-stage behavior, destroyed two stage lights, accosted a photographer with his microphone, and threw 3 micstands into the photographers' pit (--one of them he bent in half). While I can appreciate the band's psychedelic atmospherics and unpredictable stage antics, I've always found their music a little too "trippy-for-trippy's sake." When I explained this to a friend, he responded giving the most apt description for their music: "No, the Mars Volta can't be 'too trippy.' I like to imagine that they wake up in the morning, drink some coffee, drop some acid, shoot up some heroin perhaps mixed with the ground-up remains of Bolivian beetles, smoke a little crack --actually I read in an interview that they do partake of crack, not to mention that they prefer wearing girls' blue jeans because they're tighter than the male versions—and they perhaps sip the lukewarm blood of a 12-year-old virgin after which they might board a flying saucer and land on Pluto...I just hope I never find out that they're nice to their mothers or donate money to crippled children."

When the band played on Saturday, they came on about 20 minutes late and played about 20 minutes over soliciting complaints among attendees. "When the f*ck is this band going to be over? The singer sucks!" I kept hearing. None of the band members said a single word to crowd, or amongst themselves the entire set; it was very intense. Towards the end of the set, Cedric really started losing it. In addition to flailing himself around the entire time like a demon-possessed jelly-boned ragdoll, he took his belt off, and started beating the micstand, the drumset, and eventually his following bandmate Omar Rodriguez. Talk about anger-management issues.

Best costumes: Frank (Donnie Darko) and Beetlejuice.

Day 3 – Sunday, October 26

Re-defining the meaning of "Free": There was a booth advertising "Complimentary Voodoo Photos" on Friday. When I walked by on Saturday the word "Free" handwritten on a piece of paper covered the word "Complimentary." By the time Sunday rolled around, the words had been changed to "100% Free." Next year: 100% Free No-Charge Complimentary Reading Comprehension Test Give-away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the Complimentary/Free/100%Free sign too and laughed my butt off until I realized how sad it was.