Voodoo Music + Arts Experience celebrates 15th year

Voodoo Music + Arts Experience 2013
City Park – New Orleans, LA

All photos by Dan DeSlover – Concert Capture

Voodoo Experience 2013

The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience returned to City Park in New Orleans for the annual three-day music festival on Nov. 1 through 3. Celebrating 15 years of world class music, this years headliners included Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails and The Cure to close out each of the three days. Fans of electronic music were also represented by headliners Calvin Harris, Afrojack and Bassnectar on the Le Plur Stage.

It marked the last major music festival of the 2013 season. Rain threatened the opening day but quickly vanished to sunshine that persisted for the remainder of Voodoo. Though temperatures dipped after sunset, the cool air gave fans more reason to stay active and “Worship the Music.”

Music began just after 11 a.m. each day, spread over four stages, and lasted well into the evening. The vast City Park allowed fans to experience carnival rides, New Orleans cuisine and offered enough space to relax for those needing a little separation from the crowd. There were also a number of merch tents selling locally produced art.

While the three headliners fell under an alternative rock slant, albeit from differing decades, Voodoo definitely drew a crowd appreciative of the big three this year. It was hard to pick a favorite going in and all three gave stellar performances. Pearl Jam was introduced by former Saints player Steve Gleason, prompting goosebumps and more than a few tears to be shed as he introduced the band from his wheelchair with the assistance of a voice synthesizer. He also chose their setlist–complete with a couple Mother Love Bone songs. Pearl Jam rocked the night away while Vedder also swung from one of their suspended stage lights midway through the show.

Seattle representation started well before Pearl Jam hit the stage. Hip-hop sensation Macklemore & Ryan Lewis likely gained the respect of Pearl Jam fans who packed around the main stage waiting for the grunge icons to hit the stage. Macklemore’s poignant lyrics and Lewis’ catchy jams have catapulted the duo into the hip-hop limelight. Mixing guest vocal appearances into their show added additional depth to their set.

If one man owned the festival it was Trent Reznor. Nine Inch Nails’ dynamic set was wrought with energy, massive light panels and a barrage of industrial sound that fronted their crushing set. Though fans didn’t appreciate their lengthy hiatus, it seems Reznor has returned with pent up angst and vigor. If another artist approached Reznor’s domination of the stage at Voodoo it was Jordan Cook performing as Reignwolf. His midafternoon set on the Carnival stage on Saturday was a blue-metal shredfest.

Hayley Williams looked striking with her orange hair and black latex pants. She easily had the most energy of any artist to perform at 2013 Voodoo. Performing in front of a legion of fans waiting to see NIN, there were definitely Paramore fans in the mix. Williams noted, “We’re honored to be playing on the same stage as Nine Inch Nails, and this is their headline show; but make no mistake, you’re at a Paramore concert right now.”

Other performances on Saturday included the melodic punk duo of Alkaline Trio and New Found Glory delivering on back-to-back sets; a vocal clinic by folk musicians Delta Rae on the main Ritual Stage; and Big Gigantic was the perfect moniker for the electronic duo who raged on the Le Plur Stage before Afrojack dropped heavy beats opposite Nine Inch Nails.

Sunday always closes a couple hours earlier than Friday and Saturday’s lineups. The Cure took the stage at 6:50 p.m. and the goth legends did not disappoint behind Robert Smith. Dense smoke and multicolored lighting cast various textures onto Smith’s pasty white complexion. His tangled and graying mop might be long overdue for a makeover but Smith’s vocals were rich with life and emotion. Their lengthy set was interspersed with classics that climaxed into a session of hits to close the night.

One of the true kings of the electronic dance craze, Bassnectar closed out 2013 Voodoo opposite The Cure with a thunderous exhibition of bass beats and lights. A huge crowd remained until the festival ended despite the coldest night of the festival.

Kid Rock always turns out an entertaining set, but his placement seemed a bit awkward–not for Kid Rock but for the abundance of goth-dressed fans who were forced to wait for The Cure. Kid Rock threw a party for everybody else, jumping about the stage while slinging catchy lyrics to whoever wanted to participate.

Credentials–both general admission and VIP–are already available for the 2014 Voodoo Experience. A three-day pass can be had for only $99 while VIP passes range between $300 and $1000. Though next year’s artists won’t be announced until next year, it’s hard to beat those prices relative to any of the other major U.S. music festivals. Live Nation acquired controlling interest in Voodoo last week as part of a larger focus on major music festivals but management should remain consistent.

Check out other Voodoo’s Highlights here.

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