Well, the weekend has passed. New Orleans inches closer to Halloween. And as per usual, the Voodoo Music Experience is over. As an annual tradition in City Park, it showcased all manner of music for the fans to enjoy.
The big topic going into the event was the cancellation of Green Day. After lead singer Billie Joe’s meltdown where he checked himself into rehab, the writing was on the wall in terms of them not appearing for their Friday slot. But the organizers behind the three-day festival had a trick up their sleeve. Replacing them were none other than hard rock legends Metallica (with James Hetfield joking they’re a few inches taller), who brought down the house on a chilly Saturday night. Aware of this, they asked if everything was good, saying, “We’re here to make it better.” The genre may have shifted from punk to metal, but the crowd was still pleased, roraring with approval when hearing hits such as “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Fade To Black”. Being so close to All Hallows’ Eve, Metallica was an appropriate band to play, with an even more appropriate time; the sun had already disappeared, bringing nightfall with it as soon as they took the stage.
And what a crowd it was. Voodoo usually attracts the younger set. Staring out into the sea of humanity, all one could see were hoodies, beards, and beanies. It’s like a love-in from the 60s, except with iPhones and Facebook. The Le Ritual stage, which features the main national acts of the festival, was littered with kids on blankets, huddled in circles. The smell of marijuana wafted in and out of the air in certain spots. Security is lax on this issue, to say the least. When leaving the festival, one guy near the exits simply lays on the ground. When asked if he is okay, he simply replies, “Oh yeah. Just a lot of sh*t catching up to me,” he mumbles, waving his hands around. Back on the grounds, off to the side of the main stage a Lucky Dog cart serves hungry patrons looking for a bite to eat. The festival is also known for showcasing NOLA’s love of food; there’s everything from lemoande to old-school carnie popcorn to crepes. Once your belly is stuffed, you can also ride a ferris wheel or mini-rollercoaster if you get bored with the music.
It’s almost impossible to not be drawn in by the sets, though. Earlier in the day, before Metallica, new radio hit AWOLNATION also took the main stage. His set was decent but one of the better performances in recent Voodoo memory. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. He appeared into his set but something just seemed missing from the overall package. Today’s bands are missing a certain oomph or charisma that bands of yesterday, like Nirvana or The Doors, just had. For his part AWOLNATION looked like Iggy Pop shopping at American Apparel. His long blond hair is now grown out and he wore a tight green polo shirt. To his credit he took a surfboard into the crowd, thus “crowdsurfing”. At least he imbues his shows with some wit.
Away from the main stage more obscure acts entertained stragglers who wandered in to hear live music. One such act was the Tennessee indie outfit The Features, who managed to get a song on the Breaking Dawn soundtrack (you can get a more in-depth look at them here: http://quadrust.com/article/feature-about-the-features-up-and-coming-act-rocks-voodoo-music-festival). Jorge Mendicuti, who traveled all the way from Mexico to catch them and other acts at Voodoo, photographs them. A journalist and lawyer by day, he was estatic when he met with them backstage and even more thrilled when he walked away with some vinyl the band’s manager gave them.
The Gaslamp Killer was another such up-and-coming artist who made his mark during the weekend. At The Red Bulletin stage, which was moved from near the lake to a more permanent fixture with swank new metal railing, electronic/hip-hop DJ The Gaslamp Killer had audiences transfixed with his hypnotic style of spinning records. The young crowd danced and swayed, with the electronica area always being a popular destination for ravers. A couple nearby passionately makes out. “I don’t do this for your money. I do this for your souls,” the California native says, urging fans to download his album if they so choose.