Dig Baton Rouge

Review: Voodoo Fest

By McCray Sutherlin

A powerhouse musical line-up and thousands of fans arrived at City Park late last month for the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.

The term “Voodoo” originates from the traditions of the Afro-American religions that were developed by the French, Spanish, and Creole populations of Louisiana.

With such culturally rich origins, the name is appropriate for an eclectic line-up such as Voodoo’s.

Upon walking into the festival around 2:00 p.m. on Friday, New Orleans own Bonerama could be heard from the Flambeau stage.  Bonerama is a brass funk group that incorporates three trombones and a sousaphone into their ever-expanding musical landscape.

Next up on the Flambeau stage was another New Orleans favorite, the eight-piece brass ensemble known as The Soul Rebels.

For those looking for something a little heavier, the Ritual stage had you covered.  Chicago based punk rock band, Rise Against, put on a powerful performance followed by the much anticipated 7:30 p.m. slot – Slayer.  As expected, Slayer brought a ground-shaking thrash metal show that didn’t disappoint.

Meanwhile, one of the most distinctive alternative rock bands of the 80s, Fishbone, took the Flambeau stage and pleased the crowd with their eclectic blend of ska, punk, funk, and reggae jams.

After a long day of music, the revered Atlanta rap duo, OutKast, took the Ritual stage.  As expected, Andre 3000 and Big Boi blew the crowd away with their undeniably infectious tunes that had a loyal fan base chanting and singing along throughout the performance.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. Voodoo patrons flocked to the festival grounds as New Orleans acts such as Naughty Professor and Flow Tribe filled the air with brass infused measures that kept The Big Easy vibe in full swing.  Around 6 p.m., Ms. Lauryn Hill brought her soulful Doo Wop to the Ritual stage.

Subsequently, a faithful audience of screaming girls wandered towards Thirty Seconds to Mars, while a mob of neon-glowing bodies rushed over to the Le Plur stage early to witness EDM giant Skrillex bring the house down.

However, I was not headed to either.  My sights were set on seeing an up-and-coming rock’n’roll musician by the name of Benjamin Booker.  As expected, Booker blew away a stupefied congregation with his gut-wrenching lyricism and raw instrumentation.  It would be hard not to compare him, at least aesthetically, to the late Jimi Hendrix.  His up-beat tracks such as “Violent Shiver” and “Have You Seen My Son” left heads vigorously bobbing back and forth, while softer jams like “Slow Coming” had the crowd swaying, captivated by the beautiful melodies the radiated from the Flambeau stage.

English indie band Arctic Monkeys closed out the evening with a massive crowd, performing hits such as “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Arabella” for an ecstatic audience.

With many people exhausted from the night before, Sunday started off slow at Voodoo.  However, around noon the masses began to pile in.  John Butler Trio graced a packed house with enchanting guitar ballads such as “Ocean” and more up-beat songs like “Better Than.”

Afterwards, crowds split in every direction to see a number of popular artists such as AWOLNATION, The Revivalists, Trombone Shorty, and Gogol Bordello.

Next, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters wowed a grateful following with hits like “Learn to Fly” and “Everlong.”  Towards to tail end of their set, Trombone Shorty joined them on stage to perform the first track off of their very first album, “This is a Call.”

To close out the festival, EDM artist Pretty Lights veered away from bass heavy dub-step and put on a groove-filled set full of vintage funk and soul samples.

Overall, from the Ferris wheel to the giant tarantula, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience was a huge.


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