The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience 2013

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Billy Squier closed out the night on the Flambeau stage solo with only his electric guitar. Casually stating "we have a lot of competition over there (from the EDM stage), so let's make some noise," Squire delivered a fantastic set of his hits. His sense of humor shined through when he mentioned that he missed "the day of the LP and the artwork on the album; you don't get shit like that from an iTunes download," and again when he told the sound man to "turn it up" as he performed "Lonely Is The Night," She's A Runner," "Learn How to Live," "Everybody Wants You" and "Too Daze Gone." When he introduced "The Pursuit of Happiness" from 1998's Happy Blue (J-Bird Records), he said, "Back in the late '90s, I was pretty disenchanted by how the music business was going." He could have easily been talking about the sound bleed from the competing stages. And what would a Billy Squier performance be without his biggest hit? Of course, Squier played "The Stroke." On this evening the performance of the song featured The Stooges Brass Band. "The Stroke" was sampled by Eminem, on "Berzerk" and Squire joked that "My buddy Eminem couldn't be here tonight, he's actually up in my town, doing another show (Eminem was in New York appearing on NBC's "Saturday Night Live") so we thought we'd do something more geographically appropriate."

Royal Teeth was another band whose performance in the intimate Toyota Soundwave tent was filled to the brim with dancing fans enjoying the semi-acoustic set. When he introduced songs from Wild (Dangerbird, 2013), Gary Larsen announced to the appreciative crowd that the band was planning on doing something a bit different. He said, "We're gonna strip it down a little bit, so it's a bit smoother. This is a song called 'Stick.'" Later in the set when he introduced the song that has gained the band the most notoriety (it's been featured in two TV commercials), he stated, "I think you may have heard this one here and there. It's called 'Wild'" Larson, Nora Patterson and the rest of the New Orleans-based indie-pop band's brand of buoyant, danceable rock had the crowd transfixed and singing along throughout its short set.

Sunday, November 2

Sunday's headliner and festival closer, the Cure, has been making happy music with sad lyrics since the '80s. Robert Smith and his band sounded amazing.

As the calendar has continued turning pages since the Cure burst on the scene in 1979, Robert Smith's dark spikey black hair that appeared to have been styled by General Electric has receded a bit and lost some of its dark sheen. On this Halloween weekend, Smith, dressed all in black, eyes smudged with dark eyeliner and his red lipstick, was the perfect specter of and quite possibly the last vestige of '80s alternative Goth rock. Not only did he sound the part, he looked it.

The Cure's two-hour set featured many of the classic hits that fans clamor for, such as "Just Like Heaven," "Fascination Street," "Shake Dog Shake," "Friday I'm In Love," "Lovesong," "Pictures of You," "Hot Hot Hot!!!" and "In Between Days" as well as deeper tracks like "Burn" from The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Atlantic Records, 1994)—the crowd shrieked with joy and utter elation when, after Smith announced, "we've never done this one before," the opening notes drifted across the field near the Ritual Stage.

As the night wore on, Smith (an underrated guitarist) and Reeves Gabrels (the Cure's touring guitarist) traded tasty, psychedelic-tinged licks back and forth while the bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O'Donnell and drummer Jason Cooper supplied the backbeat. The band's blend of moody, atmospheric, well-crafted and infectious rock sounds as fresh in 2013 as it did in the '80s, '90s and '00s. The audience obviously agreed, greeting each song with thunderous applause, while offering whistles and the occasional cat-call of, "We love you, Robert!" when a song ended.

After plowing through twenty-three songs, the main set ended with "Give Me It" and the band left the stage—but not for long. The night ended with a high-energy five-song encore mini-set could have been marketed as a live "greatest hits" EP. The encore featured: "Why Can't I Be You?," "Close To Me," "Let's Go to Bed," "The Lovecats" and "Boys Don't Cry."

Facebook was awash with gushing posts about the Cure both before and after the show. For many of those in attendance, it was their dream concert. For those who didn't get to see it, it should be noted that the Cure is still a top-notch must-see rock 'n' roll band.

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