Festival weekend passes still available
The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, in its 15th year of Halloween weekends at City Park, always hits its stride at night. The park’s carnival rides are illuminated to maximum effect, as are the national acts that appear at the festival’s largest performance space, the Ritual Stage.
Lights in the night made rap star Macklemore’s glittering militaristic coat all the more impressive as he and his producer-partner, Ryan Lewis, performed their hits Friday for a throng of Voodoo-goers at Ritual Stage.
But even early in a Voodoo Experience day, there’s some magic around. Shortly after noon, a fairy wearing sparkling wings and a puffy purple dress strolled with a young sailor in the direction of throbbing electronic dance music booming from the festival’s Le Plur Stage.
It was the day after Halloween, however, and costumes were scarce at Voodoo Experience. Many festgoers who did dress for the occasion tended to do partial costumes, such as animal ears and masks only.
Not so for Flow Tribe, hard-charging funk, soul, Latin, rock and sometimes hip-hop band from New Orleans. At Flow Tribe’s early afternoon show at the Flambeau Stage, all six members of the group performed in traditional nun’s habits.
For the band’s opening number, front man K.C. O’Rorke and the two band members on each side of him busted through outsized, synchronized dance moves during the song’s instrumental break.
Performing first at the Le Plur Stage, Hello Negro, an electronic dance music DJ and keyboardist, added swirling keyboard riffs to his heavy beats. One of this year’s many New Orleans acts, Hello Negro also brought Voodoo Experience, a youth-oriented but eclectic festival that books national stars as Friday’s headliner, Pearl Jam, home to New Orleans by sampling a Neville Brothers classic, “Fire on the Bayou.”
Friday’s visiting talent included Those Darlins. A co-ed foursome from Nashville, the band puts lots of vocal twang in its often dark, harmony-graced country- and garage-rock, mostly thanks to primary vocalist Jessi Darlin.
Those Darlins further demonstrated much pop song craft during their mid-afternoon set on the Carnival Stage. And they showed their appreciation for a great singer-songwriter from Memphis who lived in New Orleans for decades, the late Alex Chilton, by performing his song, “Free Again.”
Prior to evening performances by Pearl Jam and Macklemore and Lewis, the festival began shifting to high gear with a late afternoon performance by duo Shovels & Ropes.
Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, the married couple from Charleston, S.C., who are Shovels & Rope, rolled through downhome, earnest country, kicking country-rock and romping rock ’n’ roll songs on the Ritual Stage.
Hearst and Trent both sang, played guitars and took turns banging their scaled-down drum set. Hearst’s high voice, high spirits, dynamic stage presence and mop-topped blond hair suggested Dolly Parton in her prime. A vintage-, ’50s-looking red dress accented her fieriness.
Another of the day’s New Orleans acts local singer-songwriter Andrew Duhon opened the day at the Ritual Stage.
“Wouldn’t necessarily call is primetime, but it’s great to be here,” he said.
Duhon’s songs contain deep introspection and undoubtable sincerity. But he ended his show with another side of his musical personality, playing a stomping blues number, “Sidestep Your Grave.” Duhon flashed his instrumentalist’s chops in his closing number, gliding over his electric guitar’s strings with a golden slide.
Voodoo Experience continues through Sunday. Single day admission is sold out, but weekend admission is still available.