Voodoo Experience- New Orleans, LA 11/2 & 11/3/13

After an electrified Pearl Jam performance ended the activities of Day 1 at the Voodoo Music Experience, it was easily wondered if Day 2 could even come close. But there was a noticeable excitement blowing in the air as you walked onto the grounds Saturday morning, with people talking about the anticipated return of Nine Inch Nails to New Orleans. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. Spitting out fiery musings of life and love, holding onto a microphone with an angry man’s attempt to remain sane, Trent Reznor once again spoke to the youth. The crowd was drawn together in a tight mass near the front, releasing fanaticized shouts of false god hysteria for “Sanctified” and “The Wretched;” and whipping themselves into a raging frenzy when the band ended their set with “Head Like A Hole.”

But prior to the buzzing industrial crescendo, the day was actually a very good day for music. Bands were feeling good and that spread into the audiences that were watching. Despite the never-ending bleed over from the EDM techno stages, musicians and fans both tried to make the best of it. Billy Squier, shooting eyeball daggers in the direction of the Le Plur stage as he tuned up his guitar, told his listeners to just rock louder than them. It was simply something that had to be dealt with, as a new location on the City Park grounds and a new layout altogether was debuting at Voodoo this year. Hopefully, next year the mistakes will be corrected and the music on each stage can be contained in their own little world and the listening experience can be better enjoyed.

voodoo 2013 paramore 01

So what made Saturday possibly the best overall day of the festival? Here are some reasons why:

–  Paramore could have very well been the closer on any other given night. Keeping their set from bogging down with any kind of sluggish sentimentality, Hayley Williams and her band of rocker brothers stormtrooped from one hot potato song to another, barely stopping to catch their breath. Ablaze in bright orange hair and skintight outfit, Williams let it be known that Lizzy Hale was going to have to fight to take away her title as the feminine voice of the young and spirited. Perfect lead-in to NIN’s set.

–  The Breton Sound intertwining bits of Green Day-ish harmonies into their brand of fun rock & roll and breaking out some Google glasses to film one of their last songs.

Billy Squier, who performed his set as bare bones as they come with just him alone onstage with an electric guitar, spicing up his blockbuster hit “The Stroke” by bringing out New Orleans own Stooges Brass Band.

–  Bad Things lead singer Davis LeDuke throwing pumpkin shards into the crowd during their early afternoon set.

–  Ruby Amanfu, who gave sizzle to Jack White’s “Love Interruption” at last year’s Voodoo, belting out some sultry love songs in a Grecian-style gown.

– Seattle’s Reignwolf raising guitar hell on the Carnival stage

Gaslight Anthem spiraling through an hour long set of spirited anthems

-p  And the true find of the 2013 festival – Mahnaz Hoosein. Although not a newbie on the American music scene (she sang on the Barrett Martin Band’s 2012 Artifact album) she is only now making a name for herself. Born in India and spending the last several years in Seattle, she made her Voodoo debut at the end of Leslie Blackshear Smith’s soulful set, passionately singing on “Love Walks With Me.”

voodoo 2013 cure 03

Day 3 was more of a scratch-your-head mish mash, with the spunky pop of Matt & Kim leading into the southern rock rap of Kid Rock who himself opened for the goth rock purveyors The Cure. A very interesting mix of music and fans in front of the main Ritual stage; but that being said, it worked in a crazy concoction sort of way. Cure fans were adamant to hold their spots in front as the Kid Rock fans boogied beside them. And closing out on the Flambeau stage, Dr. John night-tripped once again.

With a little less local Jazz added into the flavor of Voodoo this year was a sad omission, especially for locals who normally plant their chairs in front of now-defunct smaller stages Preservation Hall and WWOZ, which have been combined into the one Flambeau stage. But it will be interesting next year to see how the organizers readjust to the new grounds. Festival goers that I talked with seemed to enjoy the rides and the crafts and the music; they just wished they had been spread out a bit more. But if they continue to bring in the big guns, a la Pearl Jam, NIN and The Cure, one thing they won’t have to worry about is the music.

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