With a new location within City Park and yet another unique lineup to boast (in keeping with the festival’s always veritable and bizarro break-from-a-growing-monotony-of-major-festival-lineups), this year’s Voodoo Experience once again diverges from the norm to bring together a pack of artists that otherwise wouldn’t convene … anywhere. While there are far more reasons (both musical and non-musical) to make it down to City Park, here are six acts we’re looking forward to at this year’s ritual.
This high-energy, song-focused duo from Chucktown has already made quite an impact on Big Easy crowds at recent showings (and, looking ahead to 2014, will return for a headlining show at Tipitina’s on Feb. 19th). This early afternoon slot is well-placed and should be around the time much of the Friday crowd arrives and is thus seeing their first bit of music at the festival’s generally thinner opening day. Expect an onslaught of simplistic and sweet tunes coming from a variety of well-aged instruments (and the entire kitchen sink). As folk’s answer to The White Stripes, Shovels & Rope should provide a refreshing set of good vibrations to get this festival moving in the right direction. If you happen to miss them at Voodoo, they’ll be doing a special “Deja Voodoo” midnight show on Friday at Preservation Hall with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, tix for that are available here.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “Hail, Hail” and “Birmingham”
In addition to being long-time international icons and New Orleans musical ambassadors, over the last half-decade, Preservation Hall Jazz Band have become stalwarts at events like Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival. Moreover, PHJB counts the likes of My Morning Jacket, Del McCoury Band and most recently, John Oates as go-to collaborators and best buds in the biz. There’s a reason for it too: under the guidance of musical director Ben Jaffe, PHJB has modernized their approach while still maintaining a well-grounded respect for traditional New Orleans music. With an early evening slot just a couple of hours before Pearl Jam hits the main stage, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if Vedder & Co. invited this legendary collective up for one during the headliner’s set later on Friday night. But first, you’ll wanna see them do their thing on the big stage, and there’s no telling who might come across the stage during the band’s proper set. Expect to hear old classics and a healthy amount of tunes from 2013’s That’s It! (produced by Jim James), PHJB’s first album of original compositions.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing,” That’s It!” and any number of New Orleans standards.
Having now grown past their initial cycle of mega-hype surrounding Cults’ self-titled debut LP, this ’60s-styled girl-group pop duo offers much more stylistic depth than initally meets the eye and, in the live setting, expect the expansive lighter sounds to be met and seamlessly contrasted with darker hues – in keeping with a general theme of the night and weekend.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “Go Outside,” “Abducted” and “Keep Your Head Up”
I’ve seen a lot of memorable shows in the headlining slot (Eminem in ’09, My Morning Jacket on Halloween in 2010, Soundgarden in 2011 to name a few) and earlier sets (Widespread Panic in ’09, Janelle Monae in 2010 and Dumpstaphunk in 2011) at my three previous Voodoo Experiences, but on Saturday night, there’s a growing and exciting expectation surrounding Nine Inch Nails’ set that we’re inching toward partaking in a complex and brain-frying audiovisual display that may just completely obliterate anything that has preceded it in City Park. Reznor and Co.’s attention to detail goes down to every facet of the show, and this band’s constantly boundary-pushing sonics and complimenting visual aesthetics are bound to leave a massively impactful mark on all in attendance. With an excellent new album Hesitation Marks well-suited to the live setting (and perhaps NIN’s best new LP in over a decade), there’s zero question of the proverbial “place to be” on Saturday night.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “Copy of A,” “Head Like A Hole” and “Wish”
After several years of heavy touring, Nashville’s prog/funk/jam/jungle rockers Moon Taxi have been riding a long overdue wave of success, critical acclaim and popularity these last couple of years and, with the release of this year’s polished Mountains Beaches Cities, they’ve got a studio record to match their sterling live reputation. Taking into account the fact that it’ll be Day Three after a long weekend, you can still expect this set to produce one of the highest-energy bands and crowds you’ll see all weekend in City Park.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “Mercury”, “Beaches” and “Cabaret”
With big-ticket acts The Cure on the main stage and Bassnectar at Le Plur, there’s bound to be ample space to see a New Orleans legend at work with a bevy of expected (and unexpected) special guests joining Mr. Rebennack. Announced guests include George Porter, Jr., Ivan Neville, Herlin Riley, Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, Smokey Johnson, Big D, Chief Monk Boudreaux, Nicholas Payton, Roderick Paulin, Sarah Morrow, & Topsy Chapman & Solid Harmony. Boogeyin’ down at the voodoo-charm-and-regalia accented Night Tripper set to close out this Voodoo Experience is about as ritualistic as this festival is gonna get. For these reasons, this is the right place at the right time.
ESSENTIAL LIVE TRACKS: “I Walk On Guilded Splinters”, “Big Shot” and “Mama Roux”