Voodoo Music Festival
New Orleans City Park
October 30 - November 1, 2009
Photographed by Amy Davidson
Opposite Photo: Lenny Kravitz
Voodoo Festival is really the only festival worth
going to, offering a spirit and local flavor that
you normally don’t find at other festivals.
So when I was asked if I wanted to cover the festival,
Halloween this year, I didn’t hesitate.
Ian Saint Pe of Black Lips
Joe Bradly of the Black
The first act to see upon our entrance was the
Black Lips. This band is not a bad band, but for
the most part is completely derivative. They are
a garage band. I did like the use of the reverbed
out vocals on occasion, evoking a spookiness fit
for Halloween. These guys have definitely studied
their nuggets catalog, and would fit in there easily
among The Sonics and The Monks. I realized later
we had covered this band previously at a Jelly Pool
Party. This time however, no mini-riot ensued.
Next up was K’naan. However,
a last minute press release announced a cancellation.
To help out and fill in the time was Austin’s
Dan Dyer. Dyer plays a nice mix of soul and blues.
There is also a 70’s Stevie Wonder-ish thing
going on. Dyer was able to win over a crowd that
did not come for him, and it was through his graceful
presence, and soulful set.
Kori Gardner of Mates of
After quick lunch washed down with some Soco, we
were off to see Mates of State. This husband wife
team have been around for a few years now. Employing
a Hammond, a Rhodes and other electric organs and
synths along with a drum kit, they craft quirky
harmonic indie pop songs.
Paul Meany of Mutemath
We crossed the field to check out New Orleans Mutemath.
Not bad, but after a while it seemed a bit formulaic.
Hard rock buzz guitars, a fit of screaming, then
the melodic interlude, then repeat. I found them
enjoyable for a song or two, and probably wouldn’t
mind it popping up on a shuffle. However, I doubt
an entire album would hold my attention.
Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother
Wolfmother is out supporting their new album. Or
I guess Andrew Stockdale is out supporting his new
album, as he is the only original member left. Wolfmother
brings to mind some good hard rock from the ‘70s.
Think Grand Funk, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple. The question
to determine is whether or not they add to this,
or are they merely derivative. I’m not sure.
And I am not necessarily inclined to dislike a band
because they adhere to a formula. They just have
to master the formula, and play it really freaking
Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell
of Jane's Addiction
And finally, for the last set of the evening, Janes
Addiction. As this was the original lineup (not
sure about drummer Perkins), it was a good thing
to catch it, because you never know how long it’ll
last before the next implosion. They took the stage
and performed a largely flawless set. Perry Farrell
is still well…Perry Farrell. And Navarro must
be a vampire because he looks exactly the same as
he did twenty years ago.
At the conclusion of the night, we made our way
into ‘nawlins for some good times, cheap drinks,
and a dash of gambling.
Alex Gaskarth of All Time
We began the second day by seeing All Time Low.
Apparently, this band is a current favorite of screaming
tween girls. Nothing really struck me as noteworthy.
It was the usual generic flavored pop rock that
you’ll find on radio stations everywhere yet
can’t fathom why anyone ever thought it was
Jesse Lacey of Brand New
Brand New was next on our list, and while they
might be a brand, it is anything but new. Elements
of pop punk, post hardcore and emo. However, it
generally tends towards the more middling elements
of these genre. Brand New is old hat.
James Fearnley of The Pogues
After enduring the blandness of Brand New, it was
refreshing to see The Pogues. A legendary band whose
mix of traditional Irish folk and punk attitude
has been duplicated to the point of pervasiveness,
Shane MacGowan is still able to wail with the best
of them. The Pogues prove over and over that you
don’t need a distortion pedal and a tuned
down guitar to register your disaffection. All you
need is attitude.
Afterwards, we attended a press
conference of The gulf Restoration Network, and
musicians Tab Benoit, Dan Dyer, and others. Instead
of reciting the press conference, here is a copy
of the press release and a letter to President Obama:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT
Friday, Nov. 6, 2009 Aaron Viles, 225-615-0346
Rueben Williams, 985-798-5665
MUSICIANS SOUND CALL FOR
THE LOUISIANA COAST
Dr. John, Meters, REM, and nearly 200 others ask
President Obama to
Commit to Gulf Wetlands in Letter and Voodoo Experience
Internationally known musicians have united with
Louisiana artists to call on President Obama to
follow through on his initial steps towards a federal
commitment to Louisiana coastal wetlands restoration.
With the passage of the fourth anniversary of Hurricane
Katrina, musicians have urged the President to take
action for the Gulf Coast through a letter and a
press conference at last weekend’s Voodoo
Experience music festival in New Orleans City Park.
The Gulf Restoration Network partnered with Grammy-nominated
musician Tab Benoit and his Voice of the Wetlands
organization to enlist nearly 200 musicians and
music industry leaders on a letter to the President
urging immediate action to save Louisiana’s
coastal wetlands. Said Tab at a press conference
Sunday at the Voodoo Experience, “We’re
saying this is a Presidential decision: Make one.
We need to fix this, or we need to move. This isn’t
just a Louisiana problem, this is a national problem.”
Louisiana loses a football field worth of wetlands
every 45 minutes due to the impacts of levees and
jetties built on the Mississippi River and exacerbated
by the tens of thousands of miles of oil and gas
canals dredged through the coastal zone. The Gulf
Restoration Network was the official non-profit
partner of the festival, and used that platform
to send the message that without the coastal wetlands,
New Orleans future cannot be assured. Said SIG with
Rehage Entertainment, the company which produces
the festival, “We need the wetlands for our
survival. Without the wetlands, Voodoo isn’t
possible.” Four years ago, after Hurricane
Katrina, City Park was under four feet of water,
and the festival had to be moved to Memphis, with
a smaller, free festival organized in Audubon Park.
The letter (see below) was signed by a wide range
of musicians and music industry voices; from New
Orleans own Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Galactic,
and Funky Meters to internationally known acts like
REM, Trent Reznor, Ok Go, Los Lobos and Bonnie Raitt.
The musicians have joined the call for Louisiana’s
coastal wetlands in part because of the role New
Orleans has played in helping create the sound of
our nation. Said Galactic’s drummer Stanton
Moore, “Everything we listen to has a backbeat
– whether it’s country, hip-hop, funk,
or rock and roll, it all has a backbeat. The backbeat
wasn’t created in LA or New York, it was created
here in New Orleans. If we want to protect our culture,
we need to protect the wetlands.” Coastal
experts have estimated that every mile of coastal
wetlands that a storm travels over diminishes its
surge by as much as a foot and point to the ongoing
loss of Louisiana’s coastal
wetlands as a primary reason that New Orleans’
federal levees failed during Katrina.
For more information about Louisiana’s coastal
wetlands crisis, and to add your name to the call
for the coast, please visit: http://action.healthygulf.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=13808
Voice Of the Wetlands (VOW) is an organization that
is made up of volunteers who dedicate their talent,
time and resources to bring global attention to
south Louisiana and the world's coastal erosion
problem. On the web at www.voiceofthewetlands.com
Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) is a network of groups
and individuals committed to uniting and empowering
people to protect and restore the natural resources
of the Gulf of Mexico. On the web at
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As you are aware, Louisiana’s
coast is in danger. Louisiana is losing a football
field worth of wetlands every 45 minutes, making
Louisiana’s coast the fastest disappearing
landmass on Earth. Approximately 25 square miles
of this valuable natural storm protection are turned
to open water every year. This loss of land is due
to a levee and jetty system on the Mississippi River
to provide flood protection and dependable shipping
for the nation, as well as tens of thousands of
miles of canals dredged by oil and gas companies
to provide energy for the nation.
It has been four years since Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita demonstrated that levees alone are not
enough to protect New Orleans and South Louisiana’s
coastal communities; however, plans to restore Louisiana’s
wetlands still haven’t been sufficiently funded
by Congress, and the Army Corps has missed every
deadline regarding the development of plans and
projects to reverse the loss.
The vulnerability of these areas not only affects
Louisiana, it also threatens the nation. New Orleans
and Louisiana’s coastal communities are the
originators and guardians of some of our nation’s
most unique cultures. From jazz, to second-line,
rock and roll to funk, New Orleans has been at the
forefront of developing the sound of our country.
As musicians, entertainers and members of the music
industry, we are all in debt to the city of New
Orleans and the culture of
From an economic perspective, the Gulf Coast and
the ports of the lower Mississippi River are critical.
They supply three trillion dollars annually to the
U.S. economy, and are a gateway for products like
coffee, grain, seafood, and oil & gas. We must
implement large-scale plans to rebuild these wetlands
so that these industries and associated jobs they
provide will have the coastal lines of defense necessary
to protect their infrastructure and our nation’s
investment in the region’s hurricane recovery.
Plans to rebuild these areas include: sediment and
fresh water reintroductions from the Mississippi
river, constructive use of dredged materials (via
the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund), strategic closure
of destructive navigation and oil and gas canals,
and the rehabilitation of native vegetation. These
projects must be implemented with a deliberate pace
and diligent follow through.
Coastal experts estimate that we have less than
ten years to begin major efforts to rebuild these
areas before it will be too late. The scale and
urgency of the issue demands a national commitment
to prioritize the protection and restoration of
coastal Louisiana’s natural lines of defense.
Please lend your full support and leadership to
this coastal crisis.
So folks, please remember that
the troubles of New Orleans is not over. Please
show your support, and visit the sites listed above.
Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips
Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips
The mood picked up with the Flaming Lips. With
a stage set awash in orange, and the band entering
the stage through, well, a vagina, the set was born
and the party began. Wayne Coyne did his man in
the bubble thing, and fun was had by all. It was
pretty much a carnival. Musically the Lips are hard
to pinpoint, at one point psychedelic, at another
point gay disco. Near the end of the set, they played
a very poignant version of taps, and an utterly
heartbreaking version of “do you realize?”
Lenny Kravitz was the last act of the evening.
Not much in the way of complaints here. He did his
thing, all the hits were played, and the crowd got
what they paid for. I don’t know if a new
album is in the works, or if he decided to go out
on tour for the hell of it. The problem with Kravitz
is the same its always been: the tension between
an extremely talented musician and the influences
that threaten to overshadow his work.
Ands once again, hats off to the city of New Orleans.
See you at the next ritual.