The many kinds of music at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience start just before noon. But the festival’s largest crowds don’t arrive till sunset. By 6 p.m. Saturday, people poured into the festival’s entrance gates inside City Park to see day two of the festival’s main attractions.
Following each other at the Ritual Stage were Paramore, an internationally popular pop-rock band from Nashville, and Nine Inch Nails, the heavy electronic-rock act featuring former New Orleans resident Trent Reznor.
Paramore took the Ritual Stage a few minutes before its scheduled 7:15 p.m. starting time. Singer Hayley Williams, a Mississippi native who loves New Orleans and has family in Baton Rouge, wore black leather for the show and her customary orange hair. Paramore may play pop but, as its Voodoo decisively showed, its pop is charged punch and power.
Los Angeles’ He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister played their Americana-noir and rootsy near-country music at the Flambeau Stage. The group gets its name from its brother and sister front man and front woman. Like its music, the band’s fashion sense, a mix of old Hollywood and south Florida, also crossed eras and locales.
Rachel Kolar sang with bright and sassy Billie Holiday edge while she shook maracas and rattled a tambourine. The other lady in the band, Lauren Brown, wore a glam-looking glittering dress as she stood and struck two large drums and tap danced. But much of He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister’s sound derives from Oliver Newell’s atmosphere-inducing lap-steel guitar.
The brother in He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, Robert Kolar, mentioned the band’s affection for New Orleans music. A new song, “My Soul is on Fire,” he said, shows that influence. One of the group’s mysterious-sounding selections, “My Soul is on Fire” has something of the vibe in Allen Toussaint and Benny Spellman’s occult-themed “Fortune Teller,” but it sounds more Coasters than New Orleans. Whatever it is, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister is a cool young band to watch.
From the opposite coast, wistful New York City pop duo Cults was among Saturday’s bright spots. Cults singer Madeline Follin and singer, guitarist and keyboardist Brian Oblivion, both in their 20s, made playful references to the more famous acts that would follow them Saturday on the Ritual Stage.
“We’re trying to convert all of you Nine Inch Nails fans down in front,” Follin said.
“Well, while we’re on the topic,” Oblivion said, “is anybody here excited to see Nine Inch Nails? I am.”
Cults, in performance at Voodoo Experience and via the two albums they’ve released so far, are worthy of new converts.
Follin, swaying in place at the microphone stand, sang with sweet, yearning melancholy.
Keyboards, drums and soft-loud contrast characterized Cults’ instrumental palette. The pair’s songs easily blended modern electronics and keyboards with the mood and melody of the early ’60s girl groups who influenced Follin’s singing.
Voodoo Experience ends Sunday.