Celebrate 20 Years of History with the Voodoo Music + Arts Festival
New Orleans hosted the 20th Anniversary of the Voodoo Music +Arts Festival in City Park on October 26-28.
On October 30, 1999 the festival started off as a single day event and quickly grew into a two day event.
In 2007, it expanded to three days and hosted a record amount of guests with over 100,000.
The city of New Orleans had been hit with heavy rain days prior to the festival. This resulted in the festival grounds being extremely muddy. It would have been more proactive to provide additional hay or walkways for guests in between stages.
Childish Gambino had to withdraw from his headlining set this year following his foot injury. The festival did their best by booking Travis Scott as a replacement.
Despite some flaws, the festival continues to provide the opportunity for music connoisseurs to check out new artists on stage, as well as established performers.
My review starts with a drive from Denver to St. Louis to pick up a friend, and we headed south to New Orleans. After that long drive, hitting some traffic along the way, we finally arrived to the sounds of Elle King mixing in within the crisp night air of southern Louisiana.
Friday at Voodoo Fest
It was my goal to catch some of The Revivalists hometown show, but the action was live-streamed on Yahoo Entertainment and presented by Toyota Music.
The pace was non-stop from when we walked into the festival grounds. After checking in for media we made our way to the press area for an interview with Kayzo. His tour manager connected with me, and helped get us setup.
I asked Kayzo about being apart of the 20th anniversary of Voodoo Fest.
“It honestly feels amazing. Voodoo is definitely one of those festivals I’ve wanted to play for a long time. Being that it’s in New Orleans, it’s around Halloween, which is my favorite holiday, and New Orleans is my favorite city.
The fact that it’s here and on Halloween, it’s just epic because the amount of different genres of bands, and electronic is involved as well. It’s a really full and well-rounded music festival.” – Kayzo
After our interview, Kayzo would head over to the Le Plur stage to perform a wild set from 7-8 p.m.
We headed over to check out A Perfect Circle on the Altar stage before getting a good spot for the Rüfüs Du Sol set. The band recently released Solace in October, and their material translated extremely well on stage.
The Rüfüs Du Sol performance was a major highlight from Friday. The crowd was rowdy and out of control at times, but the music on stage was beautiful and brilliant. It marked my second time seeing them live in concert, and I looked forward to their Colorado run coming up this month.
They performed new material from the album Solace. Some of their live cuts translated above and beyond from the recorded material.
One element that could help out the festival in upcoming years is adding additional lighting structures in the middle walkway areas of the festival. There were times I was walking with little to no light in hazardous conditions. It would help make the festival more accessible to wider audiences.
In between sets we were spooked by the mud, as well as the The Mortuary. This interactive collection of art installations was a fun way to connect the Halloween vibe within a music festival atmosphere.
With the amount of above ground graves, New Orleans is known for being haunted. In addition to known for being filled with spirits, the city has a special energy and history with Halloween.
Mumford and Sons have recently announced an international tour with stops at large-scale venues across the United States. Their Voodoo Fest set was a special treat for an outdoor audience.
ZEDS DEAD closed down the party on the Le Plur stage Friday night. We caught some of that set before catching a ride downtown to the House of Blues for a late night show.
Once the schedule was released I knew we would have to miss the Third Eye Blind set during the day at the festival. To make up for it, I picked up tickets for their set at the House of Blues in the French Quarter.
We walked into a packed venue and the set is already taking place. One of the guests let us know we missed two of the songs, but they started late. I noticed a timeline for bands on the wall, and it only gave Third Eye Blind an hour to perform. Our friends from Houston that gave us a ride downtown noted that secondary market tickets for the show were going for $80 per ticket. The set seemed to last 30-45 minutes. That being said, it was short, sweet, and right to the point. We both enjoyed the show and headed back to the hotel for rest.
Saturday at Voodoo Fest
Saturday provided clear skies and plenty of sunshine to help dry the muddy conditions at the festival grounds. The temperature ranged from 60-75 degrees. It was perfect to walk around and experience the city before the festival.
The gates were packed midday Saturday as we entered Voodoo Fest. Luckily the event staff accommodated guests when large lines started to form. Overall, the staff at Voodoo was professional and polite.
Sofi Tukker was performing in the Toyota Music Den, a small tent packed to the limit, with a line setup to allow guests in the tent when others left. The DJ set was fun and upbeat. Guests danced and explored the music just outside of the tent. The vocals during their DJ set were a little rough, but were dialed in for the sunset performance later that evening.
It was a treat to interview Sofi Tukker on ghosts, New Orleans and other topics.
The next set we checked out was Lizzo on the Altar stage. It was action-packed. I felt a lot of influence from Aretha Franklin in her vocals. Her banter was entertaining at times, and maybe a little overkill with some pieces.
The sun shined down on us as we walked around the festival grounds and checked out The Wallows and Big Thief. Their sets provided a mellow tone to the day.
— Crescent Vale (@CrescentVale) October 31, 2018
Janelle Monáe turned up the energy at City Park with her performance. Monáe is currently on a national tour with multiple sold out shows. Her Voodoo Fest set was soulful, powerful, and dynamic. The visual above is a slow motion idea my friend Bri had during the event. If you pan you camera around in slow motion it will put your photo/film into ‘Bri Mode.’
As the sun started to set we moved over to the Wisner stage for Sofi Tukker. Before Voodoo, I had started to dive into their material and find out more about them. The decision to check out both their sets at the festival was smart. Both sets provided a unique vibe that was original and exciting.
The electronic vibe continued as we headed over to the Altar stage for ODESZA. We picked up good spots for the spectacle that was about to unfold. Each time I witness ODESZA on stage it feels like the pinnacle of live performance. After two decades of watching live performances, I honestly cannot think of too many acts on the level as ODESZA.
They dropped new material at Voodoo Fest, and it is looking that their next album will be filled with international hits. The weather was perfect. The vibe was intimate on a grand scale.
Hippie Sabotage performed on the Le Plur stage to a packed audience. We headed over there following the ODESZA set and the crowd was stacked. The music on stage was more aggressive than their studio material.
After that epic set we were casually walking around and heard ‘Dope Show’ guitar riffs in the distance from the Marilyn Mansion show. The music gave us a little boost as we start dancing and jogging our way over to the stage.
We did miss a good section of the set, but the two ending songs stole the show for me.
In the spirit of New Orleans, Mansion brought out The Soul Rebels to the stage to help perform the song ‘Beautiful People.’ It was unexpected, elaborate, intelligent, and creative. That was the best moment of the festival for me.
The Soul Rebels would play later at D.B.A. in downtown New Orleans.
After Mansion’s set we felt exhausted from walking in the mud, dancing, and all the amazing music. We could hear Travis Scott mixing it up on the Altar stage as we headed to see Martin Garrix on the Le Plur stage.
Each performance provided a unique vibe and atmosphere to the festival.
Sunday at Voodoo Fest
Sunday would provide another day of perfect weather in New Orleans for attendees. The sunny conditions continued to help dry the mud, but was still a little tough to get around in some spots.
Thunderpussy would kick off the action of the South Course stage Sunday afternoon. Their gritty form of rock n’ roll resonated with the live audience. We were able to speak with Whitney Petty, guitarist in group, on their style and sound.
“I was raised on Southern rock in Marietta, GA so I know it seeps into our overall sound. Molly is very influenced by a lot of the roots and blues music from the south, as am I. I think it gives us a kind of gritty edge at times.” – Whitney Petty
Space Jesus is another up-and-coming artist that fans connect with for his production of high energy EDM. Lettuce delivered the funk to New Orleans with their live set on the South Course stage.
Modest Mouse brought their internationally acclaimed music to the Altar stage on Sunday. The heavy rock tone blended well with the Arctic Monkeys closing out the event after them on the same stage.
It marked 20 years of history for the Voodoo Music + Arts Festival. The festival organizers have already announced the festival will return in 2019 on November 1-3. The pre-party is going to be epic next year.
Watch over the following videos featuring Sofi Tukker and ODESZA on YouTube.