Coinciding with Halloween weekend, Voodoo Fest’s 13th anniversary took place in New Orleans’ City Park, but despite the major headliners, Voodoo attracted small crowds for the duration of the unusually chilly October weekend. The festival itself seemed under-produced compared to last year with fewer restrooms, a much smaller electronic stage and a small carnival to make up for the loss of said stage.
Friday featured the soulful and dynamic Fitz & the Tantrums, Ani Difranco, Mates of State and Band of Horses—and that was all before My Chemical Romance and Soundgarden took the stage. However, My Chemical Romance’s performance was a bit of a dud as they powered through old and new tracks, attempting to muster some excitement in older festival attendees who seemed to just be waiting for the headliner of the night. Soundgarden took the stage soon after to play their first show in New Orleans since 1996. Their performance was inspiring as Chris Cornell and Co. belted out grunge hits to a surprisingly small group of people.
One quality that makes Voodoo so unique is the local jazz and soul performers always intrinsically present in the line-up; a few of these performers on Saturday were the Treme Brass Band and the Soul Rebels Brass Band. Saturday also showcased music legend after music legend as Metal vets Mastadon played the main stage late in the afternoon and were soon followed by Social Distortion and Snoop Dogg. The heartfelt Canadian musician, Dallas Green, was also present at the festival as City & Colour. The super-hyped DJ Gregg Gillis of Girl Talk also made an appearance, inviting costumed fans onstage to dance with him.
Blink-182 closed out the night, opening their set with the classic song "Feeling This" and closed with "Family Reunion." They satisfied fans by playing plenty of old material dating back to the ’90s alongside new tracks from their latest album Neighborhoods. Blink remained as endearingly immature as ever, but reached a slightly serious moment when they promoted sobriety before launching into "Man Overboard." (It was a positive jump from Snoop Dogg’s performance, which opened with one of his backing members asking how many people were smoking pot.)
The best day of the festival was Sunday. Givers’ performance at the Bud Light stage was one of their best yet as they wrapped up their current tour before embarking on a new European stretch. Portugal.The Man also gave a powerful performance of new tracks from In the Mountain In the Cloud, as well as older songs that left fans chanting for more. The lowest point of the day was Odd Future’s mid-day performance as they riled up their young crowd with violence, filling their songs’ lack of depth with curse words.
Rock legends The Raconteurs and Cheap Trick also performed on Sunday night, almost at the same time, forcing Cheap Trick to man the much smaller Le Carnival stage. The Raconteurs were mind-blowing, as guitarists Brendan Benson and Jack White shredded through a lengthy version of "Blue Vein" and other tracks before closing out with their most popular songs "Steady as She Goes" and "Salute Your Solution."
Though Voodoo Fest was somewhat of a disappointment, it was not a waste. Yes, the crowds were relatively small, but it made it easier for fans to get up close and personal to legendary musicians—even if that meant less funding for production and waiting in line for half an hour to use the restroom.