Come one come all to the magnificent and frightening Voodoo Experience 2009 Halloween spooktacular held deep in the swampy bayous of New Orleans at City Park! From outrageous costumes to glowing praying mantises, this year’s Halloween celebration drew in an outrageous number of people to catch some of this years hottest acts. Fans braved the freezing rain, which hailed all throughout the first day, and even withstood the muddy after effects on Saturday and Sunday. And all but one small setback (KNANN canceled his performance last minute on Saturday) made this an exciting and fun filled weekend for all ages.
In addition, the drinks were surprisingly affordable and the festival featured some of the most delicious New Orleans eats, everything from gator claws to crawfish pies and all the gumbo you’d ever want. Given the weekend, each day the festival grounds were packed with ghouls and goblins, and following the Saturday shows, festival goers were asked to compete in a zombie costume contest, which ended with the destruction of one giant piÃ±ata. Unfortunately, below is now all that remains of the wild and magnificent festivities from this past weekend. Think you can handle it?
Friday, October 30th
The Black Keys:
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 5:40-6:40 p.m.
As the sun set and a thick black cloud cast its shadow over the Playstation Billboard.com Stage, The Black Keys hit us with a wave of intensely satisfying blues-rock material. The duo proceeded to run through an assortment of old and new tracks including Thickfreakness, I Got Mine and Your Touch with vigor and a fierce attitude. Unfortunately, midway through their performance, it began to rain so violently that it was difficult to keep our eyes open. However, their ferocious energy shined through and it became obvious almost immediately that these dudes werent going to let a little bit of rain set them back. Patrick Carney (on drums) went particularly wild during all this; pounding away and violently shaking his body to the beat while using his own cymbals to assist him in playing the tambourine simultaneously. Meanwhile, Dan Auerbach (guitar/vocals) wowed us with bluesy vocals and some serious guitar playing on numbers like 10 A.M. Automatic and Set You Free. Overall, the audience was so wrapped up in their performance you could hardly tell it was raining anymore. It was just as if all of that simply didnt matter any more. -A.F.
Voodoo Stage: 6:40-8:00 p.m.
As the cold, wet rain continued to soak through our t-shirts, Silversun Pickups brought our attention towards the main stage. Choosing to heavily play through tired numbers from their latest record, Swoon, such as Theres No Secrets This Year, The Royal We and Panic Switch, lead singer Brian Aubert strung us along for yet another lukewarm performance racking up to just shy of two hours in length. Thankfully, our ears were momentarily perked, as the group finally decided to run through an edgy rendition of Well Thought Out Twinkles and a few other older hits such as Lazy Eye and Little Lovers Polite. All things considered, however, between the bad weather and the bands pathetic approach to gloomy indie-rock music this was certainly a concert to keep walking past. -A.F.
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 8:00-9:30 p.m.
From behind the thick, billowing clouds of heavy fog emanating from around their stage equipment, the French duo Justice appeared and quickly proceeded to give their audience an extremely exciting performance filled with dancing, thick smoke and flashing lights. Making sure to play some of their more important hits, including Genesis, D.A.N.C.E., and DVNO, the duo plowed through their limited repertoire while also adding a few unexpected surprises along the way. Mixing in tracks by other artists such as Daft Punk, Skeetaz and Crystal Method, Justice managed to wholly spice up the evening with a 50/50 mix of their own original tracks and others. Then, about halfway through their performance the rain picked back up again, this time bringing along with it heavy winds and lightning. And as a result, with the wind blowing out from behind the stage and the smoke swirling out from the multiple fog machines, we raised are arms, clenched our fists and jerked our torsos so maniacally we could have caused a panic. All the while Xavier and Gaspard remained completely silent; only breaking to gain the praise and applause they were so eagerly awaiting by continuously halting the music and thus, causing the crowd to scream and shout for more. And by the time their spicy DJ set neared its end we were hardly ready to leave, but before we could protest Eminem took to the neighboring Voodoo stage and made an encore from Justice near impossible. -A.F.
Bingo! Parlour: 8:50-10:50 p.m.
From inside the gigantic circus tent venue, Bingo! Parlour, Fischerspooner gave a wonderfully fitting and unique performance involving an interesting array of costumes, drag queen make-up, expressive videos, and synchronized dancing. With a stage full of extra props and costumes just waiting to be used, Fischerspooner took us on a wild ride; changing costumes almost every other song and constantly spicing up the atmosphere with new and awkward stage antics. From crotch thrusting to ballet, the back-up dancers lit up the stage with their skin-colored spandex outfits, colorful make-up and marionette meets gothic cheerleader dance numbers.
You could tell the duo were softies for theatrics, however the numerous occasions when vocalist Warren Fischer stopped the audio to watch and comment harshly on his behavior in various tidbits of recorded footage, including past performances, interviews and music videos, were needless to say awkward. At least the mans not afraid to show that hes an egocentric ass, right? Honestly, they were continuously sending us mixed messages between the self-absorbed hatred of their own image and the annoyance of having to play their hits like Emerge, Just Let Go and Never Win. Fischer commented on this multiple times remarking, Is this seriously what you guys want to hear? These songs are so old! As the performance trudged on, images from Show Girls and All That Jazz flashed behind us and after a few more mind-numbing tracks the band went through their thank yous and bows and then slowly disappeared behind the stage. Albeit a strange one, Fischerspooner was certainly not a show to miss this weekend. -A.F.
Voodoo Stage: 9:30-11:00 p.m.
By the time Eminem took to the main stage we were all extremely exhausted, completely drenched and freezing, however, that didnt keep our excitement out of reach for the Real Slim Shady. Performing in front of a giant image of himself, Eminem shimmied up to the front asking fans, Did you miss me? I missed you too, man. Its been a minute, huh, New Orleans? — hinting back to his last performance in the city nine years ago. Dressed in a white t-shirt and black hoodie, Eminem opened with the homicidal 3 A.M. as crackling gun shots were fired continuously into the air; an exhausted stage effect by the end of his performance. Playing through a bevy of his biggest hits including The Real Slim Shady, Kill You, and The Way I Am, Eminem wowed his audience with a solid performance through and through. Also, his D12 crew made various cameos for songs like Purple Pills and My Band, including a tribute to their late bandmate DeShaun Proof Holton. Even his harder to spot back-up band made cameos as glow in the dark skeletons during the performance! Then, he opened into a freestylin version of Stan; transforming the song into something about an obsessed fan hed met in New Orleans. The dynamic and fast-paced 75 minute set ended with a ear-shattering sea of gunfire and of course the 8 Mile wonder track, Lose Yourself. -A.F.
Saturday, October 31
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 12:50-1:50 p.m.
The self-described flower-punks from Atlanta, Georgia, put on a powerful performance early on in Saturdays lineup. The Black Lips have quite an intense history of shocking stage antics including vomiting, urination, flaming guitars, and a number of other no-nos. Though this performance wasnt as crazy, it was still a bone-shaking show! No matter where you were in (and even outside) the grounds at Voodoo - you probably heard at least a little bit, if not all, of The Black Lips. Joe Bradleys crashing drums kept a fast and intense pace along with Jared Swilleys bass and Cole Alexanders rhythm guitar. All the while, Ian Saint Pés mad tangents on lead guitar howled out with the crazed screams from Alexander, Swilley, and Bradley. They filled the airwaves with an sound. The young group blasted out strong hits, such as It Feels Alright and Lock and Key - getting the crowd into the right mood for dancing and singing, carousing and merriment. This was made even more impressive by how early in the day they were playing; and after an exciting and long Friday at Voodoo, too!
Possibly one of the most fun songs to come up was Bad Kids, from the 2007 album Good Bad Not Evil. This song instantly strikes a chord with anyone who can remember being a sneaky trouble maker for at least a little bit in their life - and filled us with the need to dance and shout. Best dressed of the group (it was Halloween, after all) would have to have been Swilley, who appeared as something of a well-mustached bandito in a pilgrim hat. The shining sun kept the audience from getting that crazy-lost, drugged-up atmosphere that the group seems to carry with them. A good amount of smoke and lights were put to use; but really, it would have been better suited for a nighttime performance. Even so, the sound and energy were what we came for - and The Black Lips brought it! If sound could have a visual form, Id say they dished out something that looked like Salvador Dalis painting Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee, printed on a fast-melting candle, shrouded in green smoke. -W.K.
Bingo! Parlour: 1:30-2:30 p.m.
New Orleans own Zydepunks put on an exhilarating performance collecting Cajun, Irish, German and Klezmer influences into one festive clusterfuck of music alongside violins and accordions. Keeping the audience on their feet for fast-paced numbers such as La vie est courte et cruelle and One More Chance, Zydepunks continuously broke off into impressive and rip-roaring instrumental solos every chance they could snag. In fact, through all of this, our eyes were so intensely glued to the stage that we didnt even notice the bass player exit the stage; appearing moments later in the center of the pit and still playing along with the band. Truly a wonderful and astounding performance, showcasing songs sung in at least four different languages, Zydepunks were the perfect early afternoon show to get the Halloween festivities in check. Besides their apparel was magnificent! The group sent out several dedications via song including a ballad in memorandum of Hurricane Katrina and its survivors entitled Dear Molly. As the band cleared the stage, they made a brief anticipatory remark in regards to the Gogol Bordello show later that afternoon shouting, Well see you all there! -A.F.
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 4:50-6:20 p.m.
When Gogol Bordello opened up their show with Ultimate, it was as if a great Tsar had stepped onto the Playstation Billboard.com stage! Wait - no. It was as if a Tyrannosaurus Rex had risen up out of the swamps of New Orleans to reign in as ultimate king of all festivities! With the first few pounding chords of the song, the crowd was called to absolute attention: Tommy Ts heavy bass with Orens solid guitar, Sergeys crying violin, and Yuris accordion marched along a strong and steady pace to Eliots crashing drums, as Eugene HÃ¼tz led us into what quickly became a trashing maelstrom of sound and excitement - and the crowd followed suit - becoming a raging whirl of dancing bodies! Little to no words were shared with the wild and ecstatic audience as the band quickly careened from one song to the next. This kept the show moving constantly at maximum rock-out for several gypsy punk hits from both the Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike and Super Taranta albums.
Things did slow down just a little bit (and only temporarily) with the song Tribal Connection, at which point Eugene lost his shirt and gained a bottle of wine. Roughly four songs later, that bottle was already empty. This seemed to cue the mad gypsies into a song that everyone immediately recognized. The bum-didle-bump of Eugenes acoustic guitar was joined by Pedros Spanish version of the words we all knew - and an electricity shot through the crowd as everyone cried out in unison: SO YEAH AAH! START WEARIN PURPLE WEARIN PURPLE! This, of course, created a whirlpool of humanity; dancing even more than what we had ever thought possible! All of our sanity and wits vanished for a time; and though our bodies grew steadily more tired and bruised with every crazy song, we never, not for one second, wanted it to stop.
A new song came up during the show, not yet released on any Gogol album. It’s called Educate Thy Neighbor, and has something of a Brazilian taste to it - which made for fantastic dancing (but thats to be expected with Gogol Bordello). The party did draw to a close, and the band stepped out as if they were done - but anyone familiar with this group should know they wouldnt leave without having played one of their fantastic gypsy anthems such as Baro Foro or Mishto. And sure enough, they came back for a wild encore mash-up of not only those two songs, but also Sally, Undestructable, and When the Trickster Starts A-Poking, in what was an unbeatable, truly satisfying performance. -W.K.
Voodoo Stage: 6:20-7:35 p.m.
With the sun setting and the heat still rising, Wolfmother hit the main stage with roaring guitars, heavy-pedaled drums and high pitched screams. Playing a high energy set showcasing many a song from their recent Cosmic Egg release, Wolfmother rocked out the stage and kept the crowd yearning for more. The band kept things simple this Halloween with minimal stage props and no costume attire. And halfway through the set, when their more famous hit Woman (thank you Guitar Hero) came on, the crowd burst into screams and went berserk for the speedy guitar riffs and pounding drums showcased on the track. Lasting just over an hour, Wolfmothers epic set kept things a-rollin with fast-paced heavy rock and was just the thing we needed to get the Halloween evening started in third gear. -A.F.
Soco/Wwoz Stage: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Battling the pounding heavy rock music coming from the main stage, Drive-By Truckers retaliated with a solid set of alternative southern rock music. Despite the condition of the ground around the stage, Drive-By Truckers drew in a medium sized crowd to the thick, swampy muck surrounding the Soco/Wwoz Stage. And in the celebratory spirit of Halloween, the band donned the painted faces of Kiss and briefly mentioned their eagerness to catch the rock legends later that evening. Newcomers and long time fans, were lassoed in to the family friendly event featuring twangy guitar riffs, honky-tonk rhythms and the sweet wavering vocals of Mike The Stroker Ace Cooley. -A.F.
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 7:35-9:00 p.m.
With the winds picking up and the weather spiraling downwards, Janes Addiction swiftly switched our heat levels back up to maximum with the addition of some sexy naked girls (showcased on their stage display), wondrous capes and some hot-bodied dancing between vocalist Perry Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro. Dressed to impress in an obscure shimmery black cape and tight body suit, Farrell led his audience on a wild rock adventure with his tongue and cheek vocals and overall sexy demeanor. Whether humping Navarro or getting rubbed down by some elaborately dressed Harajuku style girls on stage Farrells message to his audience was clear, Our music is hot, so lets get frisky together. And you know what? The crowd dove in head first for it; bouncing up and down and cheering for the overzealous sexual acts performed on stage as Farrell thrust his maracas violently and sexually assaulted his guitar. -A.F.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic:
Soco/Wwoz Stage: 8:15-11:00 p.m.
After a 30-40 minute delay, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic finally came onto the Soco/Wwoz stage (you know what that means, folks). Just as expected Clinton came out on stage in a bright yellow jacket and a giant white diaper, followed by his more traditionally dressed bandmates to the muddy Soco/Wwoz stage. Fans gathered in closely, but surprisingly the crowd did not break into song and dance. Instead, the rather tame ground bobbed quietly to the raucous music, which Clinton seemed to be completely strung out and out of his mind for anyway. Overall the Parliament Funkadelic put on a great show, but it felt that it wasnt appreciated to its full extent since such a large part of the audience seemed torn between this performance and Kiss on the main stage. Seriously, Voodoo what were you thinking when you made this schedule? -A.F.
Voodoo Stage: 9:00-11:00 p.m.
If youve ever wondered what a KISS show would be like without large explosions and fireworks, then youve obviously missed the entire point of seeing a KISS show. The theatrics and the stage antics of these four rock legends are the show and the secret behind their outrageous and outlandish shows over the last 36 years! Clad in their traditional heavy metal garb and painted faces, Kiss performed all of our favorite songs plus some, including Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, Strutter, and Love Gun behind a huge glowing neon KISS sign. The crowd was in love; shouting and jumping around to these uber famous songs and day-dreaming of blissful heavy rock adventures alongside the band. Before we knew it however, the show came to a triumphant end with fireworks, confetti and loud bangs that made our ears ring for minutes afterwards. KISS was a sight to see as always and the perfect end to a spectacular Halloween night! -A.F.
Sunday, November 1
All Time Low:
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 12:25-1:25 p.m.
Once the members of All Time Low appeared from behind the stage, the air was immediately filled with deafening screams from the hundreds of young teenage girls present on the grassy fields surrounding the Playstation Billboard.com stage. The trend pop punk band proceeded to feed off this, eating it up like wildfire while responding to the young girls swooning sounds with wailing guitars and whiny vocals. Although the majority of their audience was underage, however, vocalist Alex Gaskarth proceeded to ask awkwardly, Yall still drunk from last night? which erupted a wave of silent childish giggling across the audience. Strange enough the young girls experienced overwhelming glee for songs like Stella and Break Your Little Heart, while raising handmade signs in the air featuring stuff like Blink-182 lyrics or messages of endearment like Will You Marry Me?. Unfortunately for some, however, as the bands die hard fans were having the time of their lives, the rest of the nearby crowd purchasing drinks or food stood around impatiently waiting for the next show to start. -A.F.
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Ello, cunts! shouted Peter Spider Stacy marking the beginning of by far the most hilarious show of the weekend. Donned in the expected Irish attire, The Pogues wowed the audience during their first few songs including Streams of Whiskey and Gartloney Rats. However, by the four or fifth number vocalist Shane MacGowan stumbled onto the stage while finishing a beer. Shortly after, MacGowan and Stacy got into a bit of a tiff, which Stacy later confessed was because his sunglasses had been swiped from him by MacGowan, however, by the end of their performance it became quite obvious what the argument had actually been about.
The performance trudged on and with each song MacGowans drunkenness slowly caught up with him; eventually making him completely unable to stand up or focus on the performance at all. Twirling his microphone around violently and inadvertently hitting some of his band mates in the process, MacGowan proceeded to slowly loose it and three-fourths of the way through the show became completely incapable of singing at all. This didnt stop him, however, as he sang muffled and garbled words (non-existent in any English dictionary) along to the remaining songs from their set, including Dirty ol Town and Sally Maclennane. Surprisingly, the crowd just laughed all of this off and continued dancing and singing along to the performance, as a few towards the front of the stage waved Irish flags high in the air. When the time came, The Pogues bowed and then deserted the stage, except for MacGowan; who despite his condition refused to believe the show was finished. Once everyone else had cleared the stage MacGowan got back up on stage and proceeded to sing into the mic which had already been turned off. He continued like this for a couple of minutes before being politely escorted off the stage by the security who had to help him walk away from the mic. Needless to say, this ordeal was completely hilarious, but at the same time our feeling of sadness couldnt be held back upon seeing him in this pathetic state of drunkenness. – A.F.
Voodoo Stage: 3:15-5:45 p.m.
During the hot hours of the afternoon, Widespread Panic drew in flocks of drugged out hippies and drunken buffoons for their two hour and fifteen minute jam session on the main stage. As a first time listener, it was hard to tell where the songs began or ended, but that has always appeared to be an important aspect of their popularity as a jam band. Overall, the performance was well received by the audience who laid out their blankets and sat enjoying the music or dancing wildly (and often off beat) to the jazz/blues rock fiesta taking place on stage. -A.F.
Squirrel Nut Zippers:
Bingo! Parlour: 4:15-5:15 p.m.
The jazzy undertones of the outrageous swing band Squirrel Nut Zippers filled the circus tent and drew in a crowd so large that their entire audience was unable to squeeze in. By far one of the most packed shows at the Bingo! Parlour during the entire weekend, Squirrel Nut Zippers surprised their crowd with goofy dancing, impressive solos and an overwhelming energy that intoxicated the air and rushed through our bloodstream and forced our limbs into motion. The chemistry between the well dressed vocalists James Jimbo Mathus and Katharine Whalen was irreplaceable and kept our spirits high throughout their wondrous set of fast-paced swing numbers and equally pleasant slower ballads including The Ghost of Stephen Foster and In The Afterlife. This was a performance worth catching even though Whalens vocals were slightly off key on the last song. Besides, Whalens matador getup was amazing! -A.F.
The Flaming Lips:
Playstation Billboard.com Stage: 5:45-7:00 p.m
Displayed on a giant screen, was a naked woman (shown in trippy 70s style visualizations meets heat vision) who began to seductively dance. Then, her vaginal region began to glow and a strange aura started to emanate from this highly delicate and private region of her body. She laid down and her vagina was slowly zoomed in on and as it came closer a deep humming began to surface. By this point we were all envisioning this vagina as some kind of portal, and then suddenly members of The Flaming Lips popped out of the screen and slid down a conveniently placed ladder to take their spots on stage. Vocalist Wayne Coyne then appeared in a giant plastic bubble which he rolled out into the crowd and surfed atop the hands of many eager and exhilarated fans.
Thus, began of the craziest and most beautiful concerts Ive ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The band cast out giant orange and yellow balloons into the crowd and filled the air with thousands of matching confetti pieces; which came out of giant canisters on the sides of the stage and from a shiny silver cane which Coyne cocked time and again to the beat, each time letting out a big BOOM. Meanwhile on both sides of the stage men and women dressed as sheep danced and wiggled about to the music, creating an even stranger atmosphere for the already cosmic psychedelic rock music that has made The Flaming Lips so popular.
Coyne was extremely talkative during the performance stopping several times to thank the audience and Voodoo for allowing them to play in New Orleans; which he also noted had improved significantly since Katrina. Then, one of the female sheep stripped down and briefly danced wildly about the stage before being escorted off to which Coyne asked, Is that crazy girl over there all right? and when she re-appeared, fully clothed, moments later they hugged briefly. The show carried on and The Flaming Lips ripped through an amazing set including the hits Convinced of the Hex, Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung and an acoustic version of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1. Of course the iconic bubble guitar made its appearance, Coyne was caught violently pounding his maracas on the ground and at some point attached a flashing light to his neck as he sung through a megaphone. Coyne later commented on a brief chat hed had the night before with Gene Simmons stating, Hes not usually nice, but he said to me that the crowd would be like five times more freaked out at Flaming Lips and he couldnt have been more accurate in his statement. Ending with Do You Realize, The Flaming Lips closed out their magnificent performance as confetti trinkled down onto the audience transforming the sky into a sea of figures reminiscent of glittering lightening bugs. -A.F.
Voodoo Stage: 7:00-9:00 p.m.
The final event of the festival was none other than the famous Lenny Kravitz who put on a surprisingly enjoyable show for everyone. It wasnt necessary to be a fan of the jazz/funk/reggae solo superstar as a nearby spectator proved when remarking on the event claiming, Man, I hate Lenny Kravitz, but this is awesome! Mixing up the old and new, Kravitz made sure to play a majority of his hits such as American Woman, Fly Away, Mr. Cab Driver and Are You Gonna Go My Way, while also incorporating a good amount of lesser unknowns into the equation. Lasting just over 2 hours, Kravitzs unexpectedly remarkable performance slowly weaned festival goers off from the intoxicating fun festival atmosphere and officially put an end to the amazing and exciting Voodoo experience of 2009. While many member of the audience left early in attempts to beat some of the traffic, those that stayed witnessed the magic of Lenny Kravitz which we werent so sure he actually had in him until Sunday evening. -A.F.