Voodoo Music Experience
October 26, 27 & 28, 2007
New Orleans City Park
Written and Photographed
by Amy Davidson
(Opposite Photo: Chris
of Black Crowes)
A billboard in downtown
New Orleans greeted me with "The bounce is
back" and indeed it was. The voluptuous Voodoo
Music Experience commenced on Friday October
26th and ran through Sunday October 28th featuring
over one hundred and twenty bands from around the
world. The Fest was held in New Orleans'
City Park, the home of the city’s museum of
art, sculpture gardens, stadium and a golf course.
The mix of sounds and styles was as diverse as the
culture for which the city is famous. There was
a place for everything from a scantily clad marching
band to up-and-comers Earl Greyhound
to hardcore-favs like Friday night headliner Rage
Against the Machine.
Voodoo Experience Marching
A record one hundred and fifty thousand people attended
Voodoo’s ninth year. The crowd seemed
younger and perhaps a bit less music savvy than
that of California's Coachella Festival,
but this was a group that was not only there for
the music but also for the city.
Kamara and Matt of Earl
The first night
out, I was delayed on my way in from the airport
and missed one of my “new” favorite
bands, Earl Greyhound (I recently
saw them at CMJ). But walking toward the
main stage, I looked over and saw Kamara and Matt
sitting on the sidewalk having a post CD- signing
beer. This was most likely one of their last calm
moments as they are set to tour with Chris Cornell
I was thrilled to run into them because after seeing
them play the week before in New York, there was
something I had been dying to ask them. In recent
articles they are constantly being compared to Zeppelin.
I wondered how they felt about that. I, for one,
think that comparison is too limiting. This band
is hard to categorize. On the one hand, I can hear
the young Robert Plant/Jimmy Page similarity, but
this band has a sound all its own. It’s a
sound that is comprised of rock, funk, and more
soul than you thought could exist in a band this
young. The music from beginning to end is tight
and lacks the flaws often heard in bands that have
played together far longer. It seems that they anticipate
each other's next move with ease and grace and yet
never sacrifice the intricacies for power or volume.
Matt and Kamara humbly expressed gratitude and excitement
for the comparison to such a timeless band [Zeppelin].
This is another reason Earl Greyhound is
so appealing. They have an edgy, powerful presence
but are never self indulgent or dismissive. They
are going to be huge. And I assure you these New
Yorkers have the right attitude!!
Next on my list
of must-sees was Porcupine Tree.
They are self- described as progressive/ experimental.
Although I heard a lot of guitar driven rock, Porcupine
Tree's live sound didn't seem particularly progressive
or experimental. To look at these guys and to hear
them play are two completely different experiences.
The intensity of their sound was weakened by front
man, Steven Wilson's nervous banter. Less talk would
have created a more cohesive set. It ended up sounding
more like the same song repeated over and over separated
by idle chat. That being said, this band has a solid
history and the following to prove it. So, there
is obviously more to them than was displayed at
Kings of Leon played as the sun
set. Their sound is as exhilarating and lyrics as
vivid as the first time I heard them. It's impossible
not to shake your hips and toss your hair a little
as these three brothers plus a cousin make you feel
De la Rocha of Rage Against
Friday came to a close with Rage
Against the Machine. The crowd grew impatient
and chaotic as security corralled numerous fans
that had breached the barricade even before the
band took the stage. As the chanting grew louder
and crowd's restlessness seemed insatiable, Rage
took the stage. De la Rocha's politically charged
lyrics seemed particularly relevant. He urged the
audience to fight back against the government. Their
hard hitting set included "Testify", "Klling
in the Name" and "Down Rodeo" –
in which Lyrics were changed to "Rollin' down
Canal with my shotgun."
Billy Corgan of
The Smashing Pumpkins
The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan
addressed the crowd halfway through their Saturday
night performance noting, "I came here expecting
a living funeral but found a beautiful city."
The stage was bathed in deep blues and greens as
Corgan sang old favorites like "1979"
as intimately as if we were watching him in a small
Sunday was full of surprises. The weather was stunning
and the smell of Cajun cuisine permeated the air.
I tossed back a few Soco Hurricanes and made my
way from stage to stage.
Clap Your Hands
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah remain
a mystery to me. They crawled onto the stage with
less energy than kids suffering from mono. They
were either sick or exhausted or just didn't care.
Maybe all three? I was extremely disappointed. Enough
Hall tent seemed a buzz so I decided to check it
out. The tent was packed to the seams and over-flowing
into the grass. Deacon John, playing
for over forty years, gave voodoo a taste of good
old New Orleans Jump Blues. The sound reminded me
of visiting Bourbon Street as a child. It seems
that this is where the festival came full circle.
This is part of Rock and Roll's beginning, its history.
Joe Trohman of Fall Out
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy
The crowd awaiting
Fall Out Boy's performance was
primarily comprised of teenage girls - screaming
teenage girls. For the first time in three days,
I felt old. I realized that they were there for
the same band I was about to hear. But I, unlike
my fifteen year old friends, was not there for Pete
Wentz, the eye candy of the band. And while I understand
how teenage girls' hearts go a-flutter when a hot,
bass- playing, indie band boy looks out into the
audience and smirks, it was really lead guitarist,
Joe Trohman, who stole the show. He was as engaged
as front man Patrick Stump, but much less introverted.
Trohman moved about the stage like a bat out of
hell and looked great doing it. While the set became
a tad bit shaky during Fall Out Boys rendition of
the Killers' "Mr. Brightside," I thoroughly
enjoyed the set.
Perhaps the most
exciting part of my last day at Voodoo was Scottish
Singer, Paolo Nutini. His sultry
soulful voice exemplified musical styles both past
and present. The mingling of both classic rock and
melodic blues mixed with beautiful story telling
makes Paolo Nutini a complete musical
package. Although his demeanor seems a bit shy it
is never the less endearing and makes way for the
music to stand on its own without being clouded
by antics or forced stage bravado.
Chris Robinson of The Black
The Black Crowes
I finished my Voodoo
Experience with The Black Crowes.
And no Black Crowe's experience
would be complete without glasses filled with incense
burning on each side of the stage. A heavily bearded
and delightfully kooky Chris Robinson did his thing.
They played hard and strong. The crowd boasted parents
with their kids, the old and young proving this
band continues to have mass appeal.
Voodoo 2007 was a success! The city of New Orleans,
while still recovering from the flood, was able
to put its best foot forward. The diversity of the
music, food and culture made Voodoo 2007 a wonderfully
enriching excursion. I cannot wait to see what Voodoo
2008 will bring both for the City of New Orleans
and for the global artistic community.