Voodoo Fest, now in its 16th (!) year, invades City Park this weekend with, arguably, one of its best lineups in recent memory. Whatever your music fix may be, Voodoo’s got it — from hip hop (Outkast and Lauryn Hill) to rock (Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys) to EDM (Skrillex and Pretty Lights), along with a heaping portion of the best local bands (Rebirth, The Revivalists, Soul Rebels).
Along with the big name headliners, there’s an unusually strong roster of lesser known artists on the bill this year. To help you choose which shows you’ll catch, NolaVie has assembled our top picks among under-the-radar acts.
Local acts: These young artists are homegrown and ready to show their chops to some of the biggest crowds of their careers.
Royal Teeth: Friday, 3:00, Ritual Stage
Harry Connick Jr.’s favorite local band delivered a memorable set at last year’s Voodoo, earning the honor of kicking off the first set of the weekend on the main Ritual Stage this year. The young band has spent the year touring extensively, so expect an even more polished dance-pop sound than last year.
Tysson: Saturday, 1:45, Carnival Stage
John Michael Rouchell is one of the most talented and interesting songwriters in town. His past projects MynameisJohnMichael and John Michael Rouchell showed his devotion to the art of the pop song through soulful, introspective lyrics delivered in a danceable format. His latest project, Tysson, features a band with serious chops injecting a healthy dose of electronics into Rouchell’s anthemic songs
Givers: Saturday, 7:00, Flambeau Stage
Displaced from NOLA to Lafayette after Katrina, the members of Givers formed after jamming together and discovering a love of zydeco and Talking Heads. The band quickly escalated to the upper echelons of the indie rock world, touring with the likes of Dirty Projectors and Ra Ra Riot, making their local shows much too rare. A prime time slot at Voodoo will make up for their absence as their Local Natives meets da bayou sound will serve as a perfect transition into the Voodoo night.
Benjamin Booker: Saturday, 8:30, Flambeau Stage
Although technically a Florida native, garage-blues rocker Benjamin Booker cut his teeth in New Orleans before getting called up to the majors by none other than Jack White. After opening for White earlier this year, Booker released his debut album to universal critical acclaim and blasted through festivals across the country. Expect this homecoming show to be a raucous victory lap for this rising star.
Neighboring acts: These lesser-known bands with big talent are coming to Voodoo from nearby states to deliver their music to some fresh ears.
Sturgill Simpson: Friday, 1:15, Carnival Stage
What’s a country singer-songwriter doing at Voodoo Fest you ask? Spreading the gospel of real country with a psychedelic twist, that’s what. Simpson’s breezy sounds recall the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings as he sneaks in trippy lines about the “gateway in our minds…where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain.” This ain’t no Garth Brooks wannabe.
Desert Noises: Saturday, 1:00, Flambeau Stage
Hailing from Houston, Desert Noises makes the kind of music that should accompany every road trip, with reverbed vocals, loud choruses, and lots of guitars driving catchy rock songs. An early afternoon set from these guys on a cool New Orleans fall day will wash away that killer Halloween hangover in no time.
The Suffers: Sunday, 12:30, Flambeau Stage
The Suffers’ soul-revue sound will sound right at home in NOLA as the Houston band kicks things off on the final day of the fest. Boasting a charismatic frontwoman and a killer horn section, The Suffers will get you up and dancing to finish out Voodoo strong.
The London Souls: Sunday, 7:00, Carnival Stage
This New York based power trio has played a handful of shows with The Revivalists this year, which makes sense considering both band’s ability to naturally blend funk and rock into an all around good time. If you miss their set at Voodoo on Sunday, you can catch them when they tear the roof off the Maple Leaf later that night.
Deja Voodoo: Voodoo has partnered with some of the best clubs in town to keep the party going with epic shows stretching deep into the night. Click on each artist’s link to purchase tickets.
Moon Taxi: House of Blues 10/30
The Nashville rock band delivered one of the best sets of the weekend at Voodoo 2013, and this kickoff to the big weekend will undoubtedly see the versatile band stretch out for longer jams and bust out some covers (they did an incredible set of Rage Against the Machine songs at this year’s Hangout Festival). Bonus: Voodoo attendees with VIP credentials can get a free ticket to the show (by RSVPing to firstname.lastname@example.org) and 3-day GA credentials can get 2 tickets for the price of 1 (by entering code VOODOO2014 here).
The Reverend Horton Heat: Howlin Wolf 10/31
Dallas based Reverend Horton Heat bring their psychobilly madness to the Howlin Wolf Halloween night. This year marks the 20 anniversary one of their best works, Liquor in the Front, and the band is on tour supporting their solid latest effort, Rev. After a long day of festing at Voodoo, this energetic show will be just what the doctor ordered.
Galactic: Tipitina’s 10/31
The legendary funkateers return to their home court of Tipitina’s for Halloween after spending last year at the Civic Theatre. With so many big names in town for Voodoo, as well as Galactic’s history of hosting sit-ins from rappers, there’s a good chance some surprise guests will show up (if it’s 1 or both members of Outkast then all will be right in the world forever). The show just sold out last weekend, so you’re best bet is Craigslist or Stubhub for this one.