VooDoo Music Experience and Rehage Entertainment presents… Soundgarden, My Chemical Romance and more in City Park, New Orleans, Halloween weekend 2011.

VDSC_2035Ppoodoo Music Experience is an annual 3 day event in New Orleans on Halloween weekend, and this was Voodoo’s 13th year bringing the music to the masses. Voodoo brings together music, art, performance and great food and takes place in the sprawling 1300 acre City Park, surrounded by oak trees and grassy fields in the heart of New Orleans. The festival always brings in some big names and music from all over the world, and this year was no exception. Over a three day period close to 100 bands played on a combination of the main Voodoo/Ritual field as well as 4 secondary stages going on simultaneously all day. There were also sponsored stages set for meet and greets and acoustic sets after the bigger shows. This year the opening day one headliner was Soundgarden, but before they closed out the night there were many many national as well as local bands playing the stages all day…

Day one by 10am bands were hitting the secondary stages as the music got started for the weekend event. The Preservation Hall, WWOZ and Bingo Parlor stages all hosted an array of music from Achachay and Natalie Mae, Dangermuffin, Cheeky Blakk, The Wombats, The Bangers, Force Fed Radio and the Static Jacks all by early afternoon. Roaming second line parades and the Noisition Coalition (a fave yearly percussion parade of sorts) wound through the grounds and among the art and food as attendees grabbed some of the local fare for lunch at the vast food area vendors in the center park. You could pick from quite an array of southern specialties, from jambalaya to alligator, shrimp po-boys to meat pies and ettouffee.  You could buy a Voodoo souvenir at art booths selling everything from Voodoo t-shirts to skull walking sticks while you checked the schedule for the next upcoming band on your list.

The main Voodoo stage got started around 1:00pm or so with Civil Twilight, a young band from South Africa with music roots in Oasis and Radiohead, who relocated to the US about three years ago to make a mark on US soil. Blind Pilot from Oregon hit Voodoo next, a folk rock band with past openings for Counting Crows and the Decemberists, as well as guests at Lollapalooza. Mates of State, an indie pop duo from Kansas, played songs from their latest release Mountaintops as the afternoon rolled toward evening.

Secondary stages kept the pace with King Britt, Dirty South, Morphine, Ani DeFranco, and Peelander-Z, which drew a heavy crowd at the Bingo stage. Peelander-Z is a Japanese punk rock band from NYC., and It was pretty obvious that many had come specifically to see this band of Ramones-meets-Japanime rockers, complete with color coded costumes and giant squid and tiger outfits. The band spent almost as much time in the crowd as on the stage, letting audience members play their instruments on stage while Peelander Yellow (guitar) and Peelander Mike (bass) started a congo line out in the crowd. The Peelanderz gave the fans what they wanted as everyone screamed to “Mad Tiger”, “S.T.E.A.K.” and “Ninja High School”. The show wouldn’t be complete without full body contact bowling by a giant squid… Sound astounding? You have to see it to believe it.

Seattle rock band and Grammy nominee Band of Horses played a set list with samples from LP Infinite Arms to a fast filling Ritual field. Band of Horses started out on the SubPop label and releases two LPs before Infinite was released in 2010 on Columbia Records. The band has gotten recognition touring with Pearl Jam in 2010 as well as heavily infiltrating the festival scene last year with SXSW, Farm Aid and Reading just to name a few. Infinite was nominated in the Best Alternative Album category and the band also gained some top 20 LP listings in such magazines as Paste and Filter. Led by vocalist Ben Bridwell, who listed ELO as an early influence, the band has a pop indie sound that reflects more of a serene styling than rock led.

As it began to get dark the secondary stages ran through the evenings last scheduled performers, with Major Lazer, Steve Angello, Red Baraat, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, The Vettes, Johnny Sketch, The Top Notes and Mike Relm all giving performances on the outlying stages.

DSC_5672pPThe crowd stated to become noticeably thicker as fans gathered for My Chemical Romance to take the Voodoo stage, and with temperatures dropped to around 50 degrees fans packed the Ritual area. My Chemical Romance hit the main stage dressed in full Renaissance gear for Halloween, and vocalist Gerard Way cut a striking figure dressed knightly as he led the band through a high energy set that set the tone for the night. MCR steeliest started with “Na Na Na” and then ran through “Give ’em Hell Kid”, “Planetary”, “I’m Not Okay”, “Our Lady of Sorrows”, Detroya” and closing with “Welcome to the Black Parade”.

Soundgarden… Soundgarden… The air became electric as fans awaited the main headliner of the night. It has been over 10 years since Soundgarden has toured en force, and it was apparent this was what every onewas there for had been anticipating since the June announcement that they would headline the 13th annual Voodoo. The excitement was barely containable, and when the band took the stage a huge roar let up from the crowd as Chris Cornell appeared, arms waving overhead to the crowd, and the band broke into “Searching With My Good Eye Closed”. Cornel was on top of his game and Soundgarden played songs from earlier Loud Love LP to later releases,  from “Spoonman” and “Let Me Drown” straight into a hard hitting “Jesus Christ Pose”. Chris Cornell was joined center stage by Pepper from COC for a maddening “Gun” with Pepper doing guitar duties as Cornell growled through the grunge classic.  It was great to hear so many songs from the earlier works, as the band played through “Loud Love”, “Ugly Truth” and even “Hunted Down” from Ultramega OK (which was re-released last year as a new 7″ single).  The crowd joined in for “Black Hole Sun” and you could barely hear Cornell throughout the mountain of singing reaching back through the throng into the black. High points in the show for “Day I Tried to Live”, “Outshined” and “My Wave” before the band took a short hiatus from the stage and the set ended. As the crowd roared for more Soundagarden returned to the stage for a completely amazing “Beyond the Wheel”, Cornell nailing the high register and making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Soundgarden thundered into “Slaves and Bulldozers” and  Cornell soared on the chorus ‘bleed your heart out….no more rides for free…’ and fans were blown away as Soundgarden finished off the encore to moshing and headbanging through the mass of the field before the band and Voodoo Day One faded to black.

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