2015 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience: Fun in The Wind, Mud & Rain

Mike Perciaccante By

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2015 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
City Park
New Orleans, LA
October 30-November 1, 2015

Each year the city of New Orleans melds its mythology, mysticism, religious practices and musical history with the traditions of Halloween when it hosts The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. The three-day festival, formerly known as The Voodoo Music Experience, given the moniker of the Ritual by some folks, and most-often referred to as Voodoo or Voodoo Fest, is held in New Orleans' City Park. During the past sixteen years, the Ritual has hosted over 2,000 performers and approximately a million fans. The festival is always scheduled on the weekend closest to Halloween. Many times, Voodoo Fest actually encompasses the holiday. That was true for this year's festival as it was scheduled for Friday, October 30th through Sunday, November 1st. That was not to be as Mother Nature had a different agenda. A tornado watch encompassing New Orleans as well as surrounding areas of southeast Louisiana was announced Saturday morning. Though the tornado never touched down, the weather "occurrence" lasted through the afternoon. The rains which started with sporadic drizzles and light storms early on Saturday, ramped up with a late afternoon thunderstorm of almost epic proportions, forcing many festival-goers to seek shelter and miss some of the headliners while others who braved the elements became mud-people as City Park morphed into something of a swamp. Sunday was a complete and total wash-out. The heavy rainstorm lingered overnight and during the morning, forcing the festival's organizer, Live Nation, to cancel the entire day's festivities due to very unsafe conditions.

Because of its diverse artist roster (the musical line-up features performers from almost every genre of music imaginable: jazz, blues, rock, funk, fusion, prog-rock, jamband, hip-hop, pop, EDM, worldbeat and heavy metal), Voodoo is clearly the best yearly concert experience in New Orleans. While the festival's motto is "Worship the Music," it is more than just a musical celebration. It also features world class food, art and many interactive opportunities scattered throughout the City Park festival grounds.

The festival features numerous stages. The largest, the Altar, is the main stage. The Carnival Stage hosts a mélange of older and upcoming acts that fit into numerous different genres. The Le Plur Stage is home to most of the EDM acts, while the Flambeau Stage is home to many of the hot up-and-comers as well as established rock, pop, blues, country and jazz acts with large followings. Lastly, the Toyota Music Den is a small tent that is home to acoustic and intimate performances by acts who have played full sets on one of the main stages earlier in the day. Each stage features fantastic performances that leave the audience deliriously happy.

The announced lineup was stellar. Voodoo 2015 headliners included: Florence & The Machine, Modest Mouse, Flow Tribe, Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, Jason Isbell, The Joy Formidable, Metric, Jack Ü, Santigold, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Ozzy Osbourne (featuring Tom Morello, Slash and Geezer Butler), Ryan Bingham, Clutch, Joywave, Peaches, The Suffers, Gerard Way, Yelawolf, Jane's Addiction, Dan Dyer, Clutch, Georgio Moroder, Steve Angello, Lettuce and The Struts. Unfortunately, deadmau5, Dumpstafunk, The Zac Brown Band, Third Eye Blind, Slighly Stoopid, The Cult, Eric Prydz, Chance The Rapper, Fishbone, The Ludlow Thieves and Quickie Mart, among others, were scheduled for Sunday and rained-out.

Day 1: Friday, October 30th

Before the rain and the mud it was just Voodoo. Voodoo has always been part festival, part art exposition, part costume party, part amusement park (with fantastic rides) and part musical voyage. Festival goers engaged in retail therapy (purchasing band memorabilia, festival T-shirts, CDs, artwork, posters, and various wares from the vendors littered across the grounds), sampled local foods as well as other exotic culinary delights, rode the Ferris Wheel and other rides and toured the art installations. And then there was the music. It wasn't hard to find, but one had to wade through a plethora of crowd members dressed as pirates, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, doctors, Playboy Bunnies, clowns, cats, strippers, gorillas, doctors, sexy nurses, priests, nuns (pregnant and otherwise), policemen and firemen, robots, zombies, cowboys, fairy princesses, cheerleaders, construction workers, hippies, butterflies, genies, witches, bums, rabbits, rabbis, cows, unicorns, and Indians (both Mardi Gras and American). Friday's musical performances were highlighted by...

Flow Tribe: Local heroes Flow Tribe were fittingly chosen as the first act to grace the festival's main stage. Appearing on the Altar Stage on Friday at precisely 2:25pm (a strange start time, but one chosen to allow festival-goers an opportunity to make their way across the grounds to see the act of their choice), the members of Flow Tribe were dressed as pimps wearing bright neon pastel colored suits. The band announced itself with a simple, "What's up Voodoo Fest? Are you all ready to party New Orleans?!!" The crowd cheered and the funk was flowing.

The six piece band offered a high-energy musical gumbo of funk, jazz, reggae, rock, Latin, hip-hop and blues to an adoring audience. For the locals in the crowd it was party time with many audience members not only bopping and dancing to the grooves, but singing along with K.C. O'Rorke (vocals, trumpet), Chad Penot (bass, vocals), John Michael Early (harmonica, vocals, keyboard, washboard), Bryan Santos (guitar, timbales), Mario Palmisano (guitar) and Russel Olschner (drums). As its groove-based funky beats wafted across the festival grounds, Flow Tribe made new fans and friends as the faithful were joined by other revelers who quickly joined in the celebration.

The eclectic set was punctuated by funky versions of "Hungry For You," "Good Time Girl," "Walk Like An Animal" as well as fan favorites from the band's Painkiller (Independent, 2014), Alligator White (Independent, 2014) and At Capacity (Independent, 2013) releases.

The Joy Formidable: This Welsh band delivered a set of pure energy and clearly knows how to have fun. Appearing on the main stage (in this case the Altar stage) fairly early on the first day of a festival is usually a difficult slot—especially if the performer isn't a local act. In many cases, lots of folks haven't arrived yet. Those who have are milling about trying to get food or find friends.
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