Words & Images by: Wesley Hodges
Voodoo Experience :: 10.29.10-10.31.10 :: City Park :: New Orleans, LA
See the full gallery of Voodoo 2010 pics here!
Day One :: Friday, October 29
A picture perfect fall day brought a surprisingly massive crowd to the generally smaller scale first day of Voodoo. It's hard to pinpoint the mission behind Voodoo when it comes to artist selection except perhaps as an attempt to bring in many of the alternative artists who sadly skip New Orleans on their general touring routes and provide a platform for local artists to gain more national exposure. Headliners Muse remarked that this was their long overdue debut trip to the Big Easy and I'd be shocked if it wasn't Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi's first performance in South Louisiana as well. Also, Voodoo announced this week that the fest will remain in City Park through 2019 and offered unspecified plans for some permanent festival infrastructure. This year's edition was a marked improvement over last year on every level, with the addition of the Le Plur Electronic Tent, new, better looking tents, amazing weather, and a generally cleaner environment (although the bathroom shortage remains a big issue). It also didn't hurt to have Janelle Monae, MGMT and My Morning Jacket closing it down on Halloween Sunday.
|Yim Yames w/ Preservation Hall @ Voodoo '10|
1. Muse :: 9:00 p.m. :: VOODOO Stage
As a buddy put it, there's just not much smaller bands can do to compete with the rock spectacle Muse put on for the main stage crowd of about 30,000 people on Friday night. The new stadium anthem "Uprising" opened an 80-minute set sparse on dull moments. The visual display was a mere accent to the bulldozing music onstage, with a nice mix of older songs like "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Starlight" and tracks from 2009's huge release The Resistance. Muse is not your father's traditional power trio. Instead, they carve their own niche, mixing club beats with Matthew Bellamy's metallic guitar heroics and somehow making it work. The blatant LED imagery calls for a cavalry, with lyrics displayed in large caps recruiting a modern revolution.
The English band has been a big deal across the pond for quite some time now and it's easy to see why major festival promoters over here are starting to take note. Green lasers, heavy smoke and giant eyeballs floating around the crowd gave the show some added flair without coming off as cheesy. Chris Wolstenholme's impressive harmonica solo segued into the closing "Knights of Cydonia" to cap off a solid first day in City Park and put a satisfying stamp on the best performance of the day.
|Muse Laser Show @ Voodoo '10|
Uprising, Supermassive Black Hole, Resistance, Hysteria (w/ Star Spangled Banner intro), MK Ultra, Citizen Erased, United States of Eurasia, Feeling Good, Undisclosed Desires, Starlight, Time Is Running Out, Plug In Baby. E: Stockholm Syndrome, Knights of Cydonia
2. Stanton Moore Trio plus Anders Osborne and Robert Walter :: 2:15 p.m. :: Preservation Hall
Bright skies beckoned the early comers and Stanton Moore Trio at the Pres Hall Tent was the perfect introduction to a whirlwind weekend in City Park. A 14-minute instrumental fittingly opened the show before Anders Osborne commanded the stage with a set heavy on tunes from his 2010 release American Patchwork. Osborne's sheer talent and pop sensibility is of a star quality and the mix between driving, razor-sharp Fender workouts and upbeat pop tunes like "On the Road to Charlie Parker" rewarded the demographically diverse crowd. Lyrically, Osborne reads like a man who's been through the ringer a time or two, with naked confessions on Katrina, down-on-his-knees substance abuse, and desultory escapism adding depth to the tunes. However, the flip side presented itself on the breezy reggae love song "Got Your Heart," showing Osborne's mainstream awareness (he's written songs for Tim McGraw and Johnny Lang) and a surprisingly contented vibe. Next year, I vote for the Stanton Moore Trio as the daily Voodoo house band.
3. Hot Chip :: Le Plur
A trip down to the pondside Le Plur area of the festival was an event in itself. Voodoo focused the stage on electronic-leaning DJs, MCs and whatever Die Antwoord is, and from the looks of the youthful crowd, many probably didn't leave the area for the duration of the day, lapping up the array of electronic artists at the newly-restored area. Hot Chip's Friday night show was a pleasant surprise and comparisons to LCD Soundsystem are unavoidable. A hypnotic wash was bolstered by thumping live drums (including steel drums), and armed with the bawdy choruses of the group's new album One Life Stand like "Over and Over," these once electro-heavy artists seem to be squaring with the rockers at their own game and the extraordinary sounds stirred up one of the wilder crowds of the weekend.
4. Rotary Downs :: 6:15 p.m. :: BINGO! Tent
Comparisons to 90s bands like Pavement and Weezer were unavoidable and their use of trumpet evoked Cake, but Rotary Downs meshes the sounds of that formative decade well, and the early evening show before a smaller crowd was one of the surprises of the weekend.
5. Dead Confederate :: 4:30 p.m. :: VOODOO Stage
Confined to their usual existence in smoky, intimate clubs, the impact of Dead Confederate's guttural, psychedelic hard rock show generally hits like a ton of bricks. In the beaming sunshine and wide-open space, songs like the Floydish burner "Wrecking Ball" were lost on some. However, Dead Confederate delivered a strong set on what was surely one of the largest stages they've played in their still short career. Also, the opening cover of Officer May's "Smoking In A Minor" was definitely of the strongest songs of the day.
Best Cover on Friday: Big Sam's Funky Nation doing Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (they also covered Lady Gaga and "Hard To Handle). Big Sam also demanded that the entire crowd get down on the ground at one point.
|Galactic @ Voodoo '10|
Best Headdress: Jonsi
Galactic recorded the live follow-up to 2001's We Love ‘Em Tonight with a slew of very special guests before a packed house at their longtime haunt Tipitina's Uptown. The original plan was to check out a portion of the show and attempt to get a little bit of rest before Day Two. Plans like that are destined for failure. Cyril Neville (who has one of the best voices I've ever heard) made an appearance along with guest spots by Trombone Shorty, Shamarr Allen and Ivan Neville (who stopped in for The Meters' "Africa"), all of which kept the close attention of the raucous crowd until the bright house lights told us it was time to hit the dusty trail around 3:45 a.m. Galactic at Tipitina's Uptown is about as home game as it gets for the insta-funk stalwarts, and this performance was just another example of why they are the city's finest overgrown rhythm section.
Continue reading for Saturday Highlights from Voodoo...