(PCM) No where in the country do I feel there is a more beautiful nor ideal location to hold a music festival than with in the grounds of the gorgeous City Park in New Orleans, LA. There is just something about the vibe in this city that is seeping with arts, culture, and history that create an intoxicating festival experience. There is an almost magic in the air when you experience the sights and sounds that this festival has to offer and it is certainly the one that we look the most forward to attending each and every year.
Being a veteran attendee of the festival I have note that I was not completely in love with the new festival grounds at City Park, as everything seemed to be a bit more jammed together, creating a lot of sound bleed between the stages and the environment was extremely catered to the VIPs, many of whom appeared to be spending more time partying and drinking within their compound than out watching the band’s they forked over such a hefty sum to see. That being said, the beauty of music was celebrated gorgeously during this historic 15th ritual of Voodoo Music + Arts Experience and the few minor snafus that the organizers may have overlooked can certainly be forgiven and are sure to be worked out in time for next year’s festival.
The 15th ritual of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience boasted an incredible line-up of artists, probably one of the best that I have seen in the recent years and each and every artist delivered absolutely outstanding performances that without a doubt exceeded many of my expectations. Headliners for the weekend were Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and The Cure, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Calvin Harris, Paramore, Bassnectar, and Kid Rock rounding out some of this year’s top placement billing.
Another aspect of Voodoo that I adore is that each and every year there are a few artists that I may not be as familiar with that absolutely blow me away with their performances. This year, for example artists such as Billy Squier, ZZ Ward, Big Gigantic, Those Darlin’s, Reignwolf, Matt & Kim, Allen Stone, Maxim (of The Prodigy), He’ My Brother, She’s My Sister, Black Cadillacs, and Youngblood Hawke left me in awe with their incredibly engaging and memorable performances during this year’s festival.
Highlights from the weekend are below:
-On Friday night, Pearl Jam were introduced to the stage by former New Orleans Saints player and huge Pearl Jam fan Steve Gleason, who is battling ALS. Rumor has it that the band allowed Gleason to hand-pick some of the set and at one point Eddie Vedder dedicated the song “Inside Job” to Gleason during the set. It was a truly beautiful moment.
- Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor admitting to finding his “salvation” in New Orleans, and witnessing a career spanning set that showcased just how far Reznor has come over the years on a creative level. A good portion of the set was new material off the “Hesitation Marks” album, but closing out with “Hurt” will always be a poignant reminder of the depth of emotion that can be found within the Nine Inch Nails catalog. It was an appropriately haunting way to end on Saturday night.
- Kid Rock as usual. put on quite a show for the Voodoo crowd. While I am a fan of EDM and many of the artists from that genre that were present at Voodoo, it was refreshing to take a bit of a break with some good old fashioned rock n’ roll, to which Kid Rock was the perfect relief. It felt fantastic to rock out to hits such as “Cowboy”, “All Summer Long” and of course set closer “Bawitdaba”.
- We could not have asked for a better festival closer than The Cure. Front man Robert Smith’s voice still sounded amazing and their set was chock full of the band’s melancholy hits such as “Fascination Street”, “Just Like Heaven”, “Pictures Of You” and more. I was screeching with glee when they broke into “Burn” best known from The Crow film soundtrack and one of my personal favorites from the band and not often played live.
- Paramore’s Haley Williams was a ball of energy as she bounded onto the Voodoo stage. With her adorable neon orange bob hair cut and black stripe across her eyes, Williams along with the rest of the band captivated the audience, and majority of the teenage girls in attendance with their fast-paced and catchy pop-punk melodies and overall their performance was a great deal of fun to behold.
- Soulful Ruby Amanfu sharing her trouble with “boys” with the Voodoo crowd. Ruby Amanfu without a doubt has one of the best voices out there and is certainly going to be an artist to keep on your radar in 2014.
- Much the same as Paramore, Matt & Kim put on a fantastic show that was incredibly engaging with the audience. It was refreshing to see people up and moving and you could not help but leave the band’s performance with a smile on your face. The band’s set was chock full of their own hits, as well as, plenty of teaser tracks from other artists. Overall it was just a whole lot of fun!
- If you have not had a chance to see Reignwolf live…you need to go…now! Jordan Cook’s bluesy rock and roll style was phenomenal and he plays his guitar with just intensity and vigor that it was nearly impossible to look away. His solo version of the Fleetwood Mac classic “The Chain” was definitely a top moment and it was certainly not a performance to be missed.
- Rock veteran Billy Squier came onto the Flambeau stage armed only with a guitar and certainly did his very best to drown out the sounds of both EDM and hard rock that were pouring forth from the other stages around him. Squier certainly held his own and drew in a surprisingly large crowd despite the other acts that were performing in the same time slot. Squier battled the sound bleed the way any true rocker would and had the sound guy “Turn it up” before breaking into his set that featured songs such as “Lonely Is The Night”, She’s A Runner”, “Everybody Wants You”, and of course “The Stroke” which was recently prominently featured on Eminem’s new single “Berzerk”.
- Something many may have missed was an appearance by New Orlean’s highly accomplished Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews who sat in for “Can’t Hold Us” during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s set and again later on in the performance. There was also a fun appearance by Macklemore’s special guest “Sir Raven Bowie” who is really Macklemore donning a feathered wig and a cape for a fun rendition of “And We Danced”.
There are definitely a lot more highlights that occurred throughout our Voodoo weekend and definitely be sure to check out our exclusive interviews with artists such as Billy Squier, Matt & Kim, Maxim (of The Prodigy), A Silent Film, Youngblood Hawke, Black Cadillacs and many many more! We are already geared up and amped for what Voodoo 2014 will have in-store, and it is still without a doubt one of the best music festivals in the country, despite some minor kinks that are sure to be ironed out.