North Carolina's Delta Rae played quite early in the day on one of the smaller stages (the WWOZ Bud Light tent) at the 2012 Voodoo Experience. What a difference a year makes. This year, the band graduated to the main Ritual Stage. Signed to Sire Records by the label's co-founder Seymour Stein (whose pedigree includes guiding the careers of the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Pretenders, Madonna
, and the Smiths), Delta Rae is a band to watch during 2014. The six-member band's mix of blues, country, gospel and southern pop-rock is compelling and invigorating. The band's set included excellent versions of "Burning In Carolina," "The Morning Comes," "Bottom of The River," "Unlike Any Other" and the surprising but wonderful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain."
Indie darlings, Cults (comprised of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion) took the Ritual Stage on Saturday afternoon. No longer a couple, their new CD Static (Columbia Records, 2013) was written after and inspired by the demise of the duo's relationship. Dressed all in black, as if to appropriately mourn their lost love, Follin was a gothic-clad powerhouse. Not ones to participate in much stage movement or jumping around, the group's use of spliced colorful video gave the performance the right feel and helped Follin and Oblivion command the big stage.
New Orleans-based the Breton Sound play alternative rock the way it was originally intended. Its music is vibrant and has a joy that is almost punky. "Alternative" is the current "name" given to this particular rock genre. That just doesn't do the musical form justice. Alternative rock is good old fashioned rock 'n' roll. It's not '50s rock, it's not '60s rock, it's certainly not the rock of the '70s, it's not '80s rock, but it is an amalgamation of the rock form those eras. Some might call it garage band music. Regardless of the label applied, it's happy, driving and fun. That's the type of music that the Breton Sound plays. Its performance on the Flambeau Stage was nothing short of amazing. Featuring Stephen Turner on lead guitar, Brian Pretus on rhythm guitar, and John Bourgeois on drums, the set's highlights included "Standing On The Edge of The World" from Maps (Independent, 2013), a new song called "Walking Backwards" and the cover of The Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" which segued into "Iko, Iko."
Just before 6:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, the Gaslight Anthem appeared on the Ritual Stage. The New Jersey rockers delivered a strong set of straightforward, high energy rock 'n' roll. Bruce Springsteen is a fan and has joined the band onstage on more than one occasion. With the kind of talent evidenced by the star-power of its celebrity fan, it's no wonder that the group went from the independent Side One Dummy label (the label that released the band's breakthrough 2008 The '59 Sound to Mercury Records (the label that released 2012's Handwritten.
LP's intimate and acoustic performance at the Toyota Soundwave Tent was highlighted by "Into The Wild" with its "somebody left the gate open" lyric (instantly recognizable due to the national exposure in the Citibank commercial). The Los Angeles-based, Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter has been described as part Joan Jett, part Feist, part Patti Smith. The medium sized tent was filled shoulder to shoulder with dancing fans enjoying her intimate set.
Ruby Amanfu has a big voice. She's another up-an-coming artist who is sure to make a bigger splash in the next year or so. Amanfu, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, caused quite a few revelers to stop and take notice as she performed on the Flambeau stage in the early evening. Her set of rootsy tales of love, heartbreak and woe simmered and burned. Her set was highlighted by: "When My Man Comes Home," "Love Out Loud," "Bluff" and "Unbreakable." The amazing cover of the Rodriguez (of Searching For Sugarman fame) song "I Wonder" was a welcome surprise.