New Orleans – All Hallow’s Eve is upon us y’all, and for those living in the greater New Orleans area, that can only mean one thing: FRENCHMEN GONNA BE POPPIN’ Y’ALL! WOOOOOOOOOO!
Er…well, maybe two things.
For all those native to the GNO—and those lucky enough to visit the Crescent City on this particularly spooky weekend—Halloween and City Park’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience often go hand-in-hand. Those familiar with the Fest know, as well as I do (being a former resident of NOLA myself), that over the years Voodoo has either boasted incredible lineups, or some that are, well, not the best. My first Voodoo (2010) happened to see one of the best lineups to date, featuring bands like Hot Chip, Florence + The Machine, Muse, and Interpol, and was one of the few that actually fell upon the day of Halloween (MGMT also appeared, gracing the stage adorned in colorful Scooby-Doo Gang attire). However, the following year was the fated “let’s announce one band each day for 90558948 months” year, which was not the best (not counting Ray Davies and Fatboy Slim).
Voodoo has often prided itself on showcasing some of the best contemporary talents, while at the same time boasting heaps of local talent (of which there is many), mostly for the benefit of the out-of-towners who make the trek down to the bayou. Apparently, this year the organizers of the festival decided to forgo worrying about billing the gazillion New Orleans acts that seem to play each year and instead built a lineup that was accessible to everyone, including the locals, who often feel shafted when they are presented with a lineup that includes local New Orleans bands that can be seen virtually anytime and anywhere, on any given day in the Crescent City (that’s what Jazz Fest is for). This year’s lineup includes headlining sets by admitted NOLA-philes Arcade Fire, trippy psych-metal band Tool (as well as a set by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan’s side project Puscifer), and R&B sensation The Weeknd, amongst a plethora of other exciting acts from all over the globe. Here are a few must-see, newer acts that will be gracing the stage this coming weekend:
Foals (Friday October 28th, Altar Stage, 5:30-6:30 PM)
Oxford, UK band Foals has been hitting the festival circuit this past year as a victory lap, as the band wraps up touring behind its excellent 2015 LP What Went Down. We loved the album, and we loved seeing Foals at Lollapalooza this year, and can’t wait to see the guys as they take the stage in New Orleans this weekend. Expect a healthy dose of pounding rock songs from What Went Down, as well as a few old favorites from previous LPs. That banging bass drum during “Inhaler” from Holy Fire is sure to draw a crowd.
The Weeknd (Friday October 28th, Altar Stage, 9:45-11:00 PM)
He crashed onto the scene with his initial series of mix-tapes. He continued to impress with Kiss Land and solidified his status as a pop superstar with Beauty Behind the Madness. Now, Abel Tesfaye—aka The Weeknd—is returning with his third proper LP, Starboy, later this fall, teasing the release with a massive collaboration featuring electro-giants Daft Punk on the title track. After headlining last year’s HARD Summer Fest and touring like a madman, Tesfaye has shed his signature hairdo and has plunged himself into new material. While we unfortunately will (most likely) be denied an appearance by the Robots themselves, The Weeknd’s Friday night headlining slot will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the weekend (no pun intended), as Voodoo patrons’ ears will surely be graced with a ton of brand new cuts from the soon-to-be-released album, as well as those unforgettable dance numbers that made us fall in love with him in the first place.
All Them Witches (Saturday October 29th, Pepsi Stage, 2:30-3:30 PM)
How cool is All Them Witches? So cool that the four-piece still doesn’t have a Wikipedia page! But the Nashville-based experimental rock outfit is still slated to hit up Voodoo Fest this weekend regardless. The prolific band recently released an album entitled Lightning At The Door—the follow-up to the amazingly titled 2015 LP Dying Surfer Meets His Maker—and promises to deliver some of the loudest, most ear-shattering thrash-rock to ever grace City Park, entreating the public with song titles like “Funeral For A Great Drunken Bird” and “The Death of the Coyote Woman,” emulating early metal in the vain of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon, yeah?
Bully (Saturday October 29th, Pepsi Stage, 4:30-5:30 PM)
Nashville-based indie alt-punk quartet Bully will be making its Voodoo debut on Saturday, smashing through a collection of songs from the band’s sole 2015 LP Feels Like and the eponymous debut EP. Don’t be fooled by the band’s aggressive moniker—all are welcome to enjoy the foursome’s tantalizing blend of 90s grunge and modern punk sound; the four-piece has become a festival favorite over the past year and will undoubtedly make for some stellar mid-afternoon tunes as Bully navigates its set this Saturday. Expect a few covers of post-hardcore band McClusky’s songs to filter their way in, and perhaps some others as well.
Cage The Elephant (Saturday October 29th, Altar Stage, 7:30-8:30 PM)
The men of Kentucky-based indie rock outfit Cage The Elephant are no strangers to the festival stage, and with their most recent release—2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty—they have solidified themselves as a powerhouse band that should not be avoided this weekend at Voodoo Fest. Cage’s remarkably tenacious tour schedule says a lot about the four-piece’s building legacy, matching high-octane rock numbers with more delicate approaches to the band’s chosen genre as it takes the stage each night. Having worked with basically everybody in the modern sphere of indie/alternative/blues rock music, CTE’s style is surpassed only by the willingness to appease those that find themselves a part of the band’s exponentially growing fanbase.
Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals (Sunday October 30th, Altar Stage, 3:30-4:30 PM)
SoCal native Anderson .Paak unfortunately disappeared from the FYF lineup this summer, so it’s a joy to see that he and his Free Nationals will be playing New Orleans’ Voodoo Fest this weekend. Like The Weeknd, .Paak found his footing by releasing a series of mixtapes, dating back to 2012, yet he has gained popularity these past several months as a live performer at many festivals this year. While his talents mostly lie within the realm of hip-hop, .Paak takes care in incorporating elements of soul and funk into his music, as exhibited on his 2016 album Malibu. Anderson .Paak and his crew will surely emphasize his recent contributions to the field of hip-hop at Voodoo, and will hopefully be bringing his penchant for funk to the Crescent City, as he blasts through what is sure to be an unforgettable festival set this weekend.
It’s been three years since I have been able to explore New Orleans’ Voodoo Music Festival, but I’m confident that I will, as always, feel right at home. The forecast is calling for warm weather and sunny vibes this weekend, so stay tuned to Best New Bands as we bring you reviews of the best and the brightest burgeoning talents to be making their way to City Park this weekend. As they say down south, laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)
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Photos courtesy of Fresh and Clean Media.