The Voodooo Experience, despite having started in 1999 and taking place in arguably America’s most tuneful city, usually slips by unnoticed to most outside of New Orleans. This fact remains true even for music lovers and festival-going pros alike. It can only be imagined that with such world renown, and music drenched, party-events as Mardi Gras and the Jazz & Heritage Festival the Voodoo Experience seems to fly under the proverbial radar. However, it not being an out-of-the-ordianry event for the crescent city may also play a part in helping to make Voodoo the uniquely wonderful musical experience that it is. Of course the obvious fact that it takes place on Halloween, and in a city that dresses up wildly for just about anything, also helps add to the festival’s mystique. Distinctive musical moments such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing a 30 min plus double encore by bringing The Meters on stage, or Eminem choosing to headline last year – when he wasn’t even touring or playing live anywhere else – these are the special events that only a festival in the city of New Orleans can generate.
Voodoo is not so different from other festivals in that it is spread out over a spacious park setting, boasts 6 stages, and will draw 100,000+ people (but never seems to get even close selling out). What is different about this festival (aside from it taking place in NOLA, and being on Halloween, which trust me – is enough) is that they separate the fest into 3 distinct areas, each with their own feel. They are given the wonderfully Creole names of Le Ritual, Le Flambeau and Le Carnivalon. Each section of the festival is designed to showcase uniquely different sides of the personality of New Orleans, and each section therefore has a different stage theme. “Le Flambeau” is where one can find music that is from, or inspired by, the traditional New Orleans music styles. “Le Ritual” is where one can find the well known national acts, and finally “Le Carnival” features indie bands, burlesque, circus acts, etc.
The 2010 lineup for the Voodoo Experience is quite a exceptional and far reaching lineup. It has a good amount of indie rock, some psych rock, a dash of R&B and hip hop, and a good amount of electronic music (aside from the aforementioned New Orlean’s music/acts). Let’s just take a look at some of the big names for each day. On Friday, in terms of more well known acts we have; Muse, Weezer, Hot Chip, Raphael Saadiq, and Galactic with special guests Cyril Nevellie and Corey Henry. In terms of the more electronic side of things we have Crookers, Kaskade, Rusko, and DJ T-Roy. As far as “New Orleans acts” we find the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Jon Cleary and Big Sam’s Funky Nation.
Let’s look at Saturday lineup in the same manner. The well known acts are Ozzy Osbourne (who decided to kick off his tour purposefully at Voodoo for halloween), Eagles of Death Metal, Drake, Florence and the Machine, Jakob Dylan and Three Legs and Social Sweeper Social Club. The electronic acts on Saturday are definitely a step up for all ‘untz’ fans; Paul Van Dyke, The Crystal Method DJ Set, Die Antwoord & Boyz Noize. The more Creole-friendly acts of note are Buckwheat Zydeco & Rebirth Brass Band.
Sunday is arguably the best day, and it probably should be, as it will be Halloween day (reminder – it wont be halloween on a weekend for another 6 years! So take advantage). The more popular acts of the last day of the festival are; My Morning Jacket, MGMT, Interpol, The Airborne Toxic Event, Macy Gray & Minus the Bear. The more larger electronic acts is the quickly world-ascending deadmau5 & the revered Paul Oakenfold, two truly massive names within their genre. And ending out the weekend of the more “local” music is Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
And while this lineup alone will draw many people to this festival, the Voodoo Experience, is titled as an experience and not a festival for a good reason. It’s not just about music. Sorcery will be in the air. One will almost feel as if they are surrounded by Burning Man supplants, both in terms of people watching and in terms of all the art and interactive attractions available (and in fact many of the artists do also participate in Burning Man). As the festival explains; “The purpose of the [art] exhibitions is to provide another layer in a comprehensive, multi-sensory “experience” that elicits both physical and emotional responses from festival-goers. The vibrant pieces celebrate experimentation with technology and electronic media along with the nonconventional use of sustainable materials.” Throw in the fact that it’s Halloween and everyone is dressed up as whatever they want to be, and that you are in a city that simultaneously celebrates the dark and light side of the life- you have yourself a three day music, art and people extravaganza that the word “Experience” can only try to live up to.
See you in New Orleans on October 29,30,31 for the 2010 Voodoo Experience!