There is just something special about Halloween in New Orleans, something you can’t replicate in any other place. It’s hard to articulate what makes it so magical. Maybe it’s because of all the history in New Orleans, or the countless haunted houses and cemeteries, or even just the cold, crisp fall air. Maybe we’ll never know exactly what makes Halloween in New Orleans so enchanting.
There’s one thing that, for sure, makes New Orleans magical each year, and that’s the beloved Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.
Since the music festival began in 1999, Voodoo has seen some pretty drastic changes. From changing venues, genres of music, and even festival organizers, this iconic Southern festival continues to grow each year. It has been two years since C3 Presents took over as organizers in place of Live Nation.
While it’s always hard to highlight some of the top moments from such a larger than life event, we went ahead and broke it down into the top 15 moments we saw this weekend.
1.) Post Malone packs the house.
Post Malone had probably the third largest crowd of the weekend–behind only Kendrick Lamar and Foo Fighters. It seemed as though the rapper brought the entire festival over to his set at the Wisner Stage, one of the smallest stages at Voodoo. This will probably be the last time Post Malone performs anywhere but the mainstage.
2.) RL Grime is a bad, bad man.
Mannnnnnn, that RL Grime is a bad, bad man. Voodoo kicked off one of the early stops on RL’s new ‘Nova’ tour, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Not sure there is anyone in EDM with this caliber of lighting design behind them. Using certain backlights and visuals to give fans an out of this world experience, his air raids and trap horns kept fans on their feet for an intense hour. The best set of the weekend at Le Plur.
3.) Prophets of Rage say “F you Donald Trump”
If you aren’t familiar with these guys, it’s time to start listening. Prophets of Rage consists of three members of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave (bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk), two members of Public Enemy (DJ Lord and rapper Chuck D), and rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill.
The group rocked this set, even bringing their fans to tears with a touching tribute to Chris Cornell of Audioslave. Plus, it wouldn’t have been a Tom Morello show without a little “F you” to Mr. Donald Trump.
4.) The Killers pay tribute to Fats Domino.
The Killers had fans singing such classics as “Mr. Brightside,” “Your Bones” and “When You Were Young,” but it was a cover of a classic New Orleans musician that left fans cheering the most.
Fats Domino–the New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll pioneer–passed away last week, and as such, The Killers paid tribute by covering his larger than life classic “Ain’t That A Shame.” The group brought out the legendary New Orleans Dirty Dozen Brass Band to make sure the tribute was just right.
5.) Alfred Banks and Tim Gunter start the festival off right.
Opening sets are responsible for getting the crowd’s energy going and ready for all the heavy-hitters playing the festival that day. It isn’t easy to perform first, but it was no challenge for New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks or electronic producer Tim Gunter, as they both threw down absolutely packed sets.
Banks opened at the Le Plur stage on Friday, and Gunter on Saturday. Both acts provided some much-needed energy for their respective fans that carried on throughout the festival. Relatively small artists, both of these guys successfully delivered energetic, well-executed performances that seasoned-pros would envy.
6.) Autograf’s live show is a thing of beauty
When I say this I mean it: there is NO ONE doing what Autograf is doing in electronic music. Pioneering a sound called future-house, the Chicago trio’s live show is a thing of beauty. The group provided fans at Le Plur stage with a much-needed respite amidst the litany of heavy-bass acts also on the lineup.
7.) The Le Plur stage is a festival of its own
Electronic music has become a must-have for most festivals these days. While Voodoo has certainly adapted to welcome the genre, the Le Plur stage really stands on its own. I have personally encountered fans at Voodoo who almost never journey away from the Le Plur stage. These fans plant their flags and blankets on Friday, and you can find them pretty much there all weekend. Voodoo gets this and does a great job catering to them. Providing non-stop music, easily accessible bathrooms, bars, and food, plus, the top thing bass fans need…LOUD music.
8.) Kendrick Lamar is a bonafide superstar.
It’s pretty rare for a rapper to appear on stage without anyone joining them; Kendrick Lamar did this for the entirety of his performance at Voodoo. His intense flow and heavy stares evoke emotion and command attention from the audience at all times. The Compton-born rapper rinsed through tracks from across his discography, before ending the night with his smash-hit, “Humble.”
Starting with his powerful anthem, “DNA,” Lamar also included fan-favorites and deep-cuts–“King Kunta,” “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Collard Greens,” “Money Trees” and “Pride,” just to name a few. Pulling one of the largest, most energetic crowds of the weekend, Lamar didn’t miss a beat as he delivered arguably the best set of the entire festival.
9.) It’s time for a new entrance Voodoo.
We will give the festival a small break for this one, but after this year, it has to be fixed. Fans hate lines. They especially hate lines when they don’t get to see the music they came to see. On Saturday and Sunday fans reported wait times close to one hour. The festival only provided attendees with one entrance the entire weekend. In 2018 we hope this improves, or Voodoo should expect some fans not to return.
10.) Andrew McMahon has some serious ups.
The former Jacks Mannequin star has been on fire with his new project called Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness. He rocked crowds on the opening day of the festival, providing fans with a fantastic start to a successful Voodoo 2017.
11.) The ample amounts of space to enjoy music.
While riding the rail can be fun, most people need to lay down from time to time. The festival grounds at the city park have vast amounts of space to throw down a blanket and enjoy your day. C3 Presents has done a wonderful job of giving fans space at all four stages.
12.) Marian Hill and that sweet Saxophone.
The Altar Stage crowd erupted mid-afternoon Friday as a bespectacled tenor sax player wailed alongside the silky vocals and saucy dance beats of Philadelphia songwriting duo Marian Hill.
Yes, an Apple commercial may have given Marian Hill their biggest commercial success to date by featuring their track, “Down.” But, these seasoned performers bring the stage-presence, individuality, and talent to captivate their audiences in the long-term. Delivering our favorite set from Friday, Marian Hill is anything but a one-hit-wonder.
13.) The real winners of Voodoo 2017? The fans and their costumes.
What better time to dress up then Halloween? Voodoo provided some very memorable costumes over the three day weekend. What was your favorite?
14.) The Foo Fighters and Voodoo just work together.
For the second time in three years, Voodoo welcomed Dave Grohl and The Foo Fighters back to perform again. Closing out Saturday night of Voodoo, the awe-inspring Rock band drew perhaps the biggest crowd of the festival–rivaled only by Lamar’s on Friday.
Dave Grohl has openly professed his love for New Orleans, and the city sure does love him. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a return appearance within the next few years.
15.) Louis The Child Dressed as Rick and Morty.
In the spirit of Halloween, the young, vibey duo dressed up as the popular TV characters, Rick and Morty. Louis The Child not only pulled off the costume but also delivered one of the best sets at the Le Plur stage on Sunday.
The duo ended their set with a guaranteed crowd-pleaser–the massive, mainstream success from 2016, “It’s Strange.” Everyone knows it, and everyone loves to sing along. The perfect ending.
Not only does Voodoo make Halloween in New Orleans even more magical, it has set the standard extremely high for all music festivals to follow.
Voodoo offers attendees open spaces, great food, fantastic weather, world-class stage and sound production, and performances from some of music’s biggest names. With C3 Presents at the helm, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience seems to have a bright future as a New Orleans-staple for years to come. That’s something New Orleans natives are more than happy to embrace!
Featured Photo: Roger Ho