Written By Duncan Walgreen
* Photos By Whitney Tucker
The Voodoo Music + Art Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana brought another incredible year of music, art, and Halloween revelry to their home in City Park for the festival’s 20th Anniversary celebration. New Orleans is a city with a flair for brilliant music and spooky Halloween vibes, and Voodoo Festival has complimented that with another great year in the Big Easy. Voodoo continued their reign for the BIG 20 as one of the best destination music festivals, attracting over 150,000 attendees over the weekend. Following on improvements from last year, a combination of beyond favorable weather and an increase in the logistical operations of the festival gave way for another amazing festival by C3 Presents, the producers of Voodoo, and several other affluent festivals like the two-weekend-long Austin City Limits, Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
Although the festival was largely a success, and an improvement from years past, it wasn’t completely without flaw. In the days leading up to the festival, several musical acts including Saturday’s headliner Childish Gambino, were canceled. Gambino was replaced with Travis Scott with a few days notice, due to his doctor’s orders from a previous tour related injury. The highly anticipated trio Highly Suspect were also canceled.
City Park, one of the largest urban park spaces in the United States and home to Voodoo, is filled with luscious live oak trees and fields of grass. Unfortunately, it was also drenched with rain in the days leading up to the event, leaving festival goers trudging through mud and losing unstudy shoe choices in the thick of it all was part of the overall experience. By the third day of near perfect weather, the mud wasn’t too mushy by comparison to the first, but still enough to add to patrons costume and makeup lol. Despite a few audible complaints in the crowd about cancellations and the muddy festival grounds, it is fair to say Voodoo Music + Arts Festival went off without a hitch making the BIG 20 one of their best. It was a beautiful Halloween weekend with talented musicians that brought the heat.
Friday, October 28th Voodoo opened its doors to New Orleans and festival revelers were greeted with a beautiful sunny day of music. People from all walks of life, representing a wide array of costumes, from horror to comedy, filled their cups at Brew Dat, listened to UniKorn Fukr warm up the Le Plur Stage, strolled the art markets and rocked out at the Altar Stage for White Reaper,soaking in the vibe of what was a great weekend of music, art and good times.
Third Eye Blind drew the first noticeably large crowd at Voodoo festival, with fans both young and old. The iconic band played the heartstrings of nostalgia, tying together the past with the present moment as they played hits like “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life” just as they did at the very first Voodoo festival in 1999. It was a very reminiscent moment for the festival, and the timeless band had the whole crowd of that spanned generations singing. They rocked out their set and announced the after party at the House of Blues on stage to keep the nostalgia rolling.
Friday also featured two sets by the lovely, Elle King, the sweetheart of Americana music, one at the Altar stage, and another more intimate set at the Toyota Music Den stage. The car company traded brand activation for engaging experiences for audiences to see some of their favorite artists in a smaller setting and sign up for prizes like free bandanas. Other visible sponsors included Modelo, who provided a rooftop viewing area above an artful and spooky blacklight experience, which included free face painting.
Friday’s lineup continued to bring smooth and funky sounds by Ravyn Lenae and Smino at the South Course Stage, while the Le Plur Stage brought the bass with house legends Shiba San and Clapton, the feels of Gryffin and the heavy trap and dubstep sounds of Kayzo and headliner Zeds Dead. The Altar Stage was rockin’ and rollin’ with A Perfect Circle headed up by Tool’s eccentric singer Maynard James Keenan, and the British band Mumford & Sons, as the crowd sang along to their hits while Marcus Mumford and his bandmates jammed in the middle of the runway staging that juts out into the crowd.
Saturday was a lively array of vibrant feelings from talents like Nora En Pure, Tom Misch, Hippie Sabotage, Big Thief, Frenship, the Wallows, and Anna Lunoe to get us geared up for the second day of music and entertainment. It wouldn’t be fair coverage to leave out the incredibly New Orleans style and grace that was Lizzo- a sassy, soulful, flute-playing star that rocked a sailor moon outfit. She reminded all of us that needed reminding that we were here for a good time and that you have to ‘leave all your f***bois on reading.’ Ty Dolla $ign turned all the way up for the rap scene followed by Voodoo’s substitute for Childish Gambino, Travis Scott, who filled the shoes for the rap genre, while the electronic band
Odesza performed a flawless live set of music and a unique visual experience that really shined through their massive crowd.
Other notable acts included Sofi Tukker (an energetic best-friend duo to be featured soon in an FSHN Magazine spotlight article), Big Thief and Janelle Monae. Saturday also featured a splash of New Orleans with the Revivalists, a seven-piece rock staple of the city. The Le Plur Stage closed out in style with the recently awarded, third-time-reigning #1 DJ of the DJ Mag Top 100, Dutch producer Martin Garrix for his first ever New Orleans appearance accompanied with a massive fireworks display. Voodoo weekend wouldn’t be complete without a spooky headliner, so they hosted one of the world’s most talented horror shows, Marilyn Manson, to take the stage for a wild ride of haunting hits.
Day three marked the overall success of the festival, as well as the hangovers from good times, had by many as the crowds rolled into Voodoo at a slower pace than usual. The gods blessed us with another beautiful day and slightly more solid ground. Smiles were all around as the all-female group, Thunderpussy set the tone to the South Course stage while New Orlean’s Otto warmed up Le Plur, and the O’My’s took over the Wisner Stage. Another promising act for those who arrived in time was the Suffers, who delivered a fresh plate of “Gulf Coast Soul,” which included a combination of ska, Southern hip-hop, classic soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and reggae from an eight-piece band.
Later in the day, New Orleans’ favorite swamp-dwelling bass machine, known as Boogie T., brought his funky fresh Boogie T.Rio live trio project to the Le Plur Stage after Eprom and Space Jesus, and before trap star Troyboi. The Le Plur Stage closed out with the talented “Tipper” who combines turntablism, with breaks, bass music, and a one of a kind visual experience.
The indie-pop bands Sunflower Bean and AJR band also kept Sunday Funday going strong, followed by the groovy funk band Lettuce, a fan-favorite Modest Mouse and the Arctic Monkeys. Modest Mouse pulled a rather boastfully sized crowd, and played several favorites like “Fire It Up” and “Float On.” The Arctic Monkeys sealed the deal for the rock crowd with a full set of jams followed by three encores, “Star Treatment,” “One For The Road,” and “R U Mine?”
New Orleans is a special and magical city that cannot be fully understood until you’re there living in it and experiencing the magic firsthand. It’s a city that is so historically rooted in music and arts, struggle and overcoming, culture and debauchery, love and lust. In a place where a parade can roll down your street at any hour, one can find any good reason to Lessaiz Le Bons Temps Roulez (let the good times roll). Voodoo continues to shine as one of the most attended and well-produced Halloween destination festivals. As C3 Presents continues to grow with its home, we hope to see Voodoo progress with their current track record and make improvements where necessary to build on this year’s success.
Voodoo Music + Arts Festival 2018 is now over, and their massive 20th-anniversary celebration is behind us, but we can only expect more good things to come from this festival in the future. Those who traveled thousands of miles, and the locals alike, will have stories to tell of excellent music, spooky Halloween houses, delicious New Orleans style food, hilariously haunting Halloween costumes, and great times that did indeed roll. For those that want to get a jumpstart on next year, the 2019 dates have been announced and will take place Halloween weekend Nov 1st thru the 3rd.
For more info on Voodoo Festival go to: www.voodoofestival.com