Due to growing pains, there were some issues. In addition to the sound bleed (Nicholas Payton took to Twitter, writing that he and other members of Dr. John's band couldn't hear each other onstage because of the noise coming from the other stages. The VIP area was over-expanded and took a large portion of the viewing area away from the masses (the true fans) essentially taking up the entire right side of the audience area. This led to Eddie Vedder (who notoriously thumbs his nose at the entitled elite) calling it the "jacuzzi section or whatever the fuck that is over there." There were numerous glitches with the scanning system for the multi-day electronic wristband tickets. This was partially due to the fact that the staff at the gates appeared to be under-trained. In essence, this was a new festival with new management and a new staff. Some were downright rude. The "Merch Church" was run by a new vendor. Running out of t-shirts in a popular size less than four hours into Day 1 is not a good way to start. This was especially upsetting because during the daytime hours on the first day of the festival, the crowd was sparse.
Because of the reduction in the number of stage, it appeared that there were fewer local New Orleans and Louisiana acts on the bill this year. Many acts that in the past graced the now-deleted stages appeared to have been deleted as well. Where were John Boutte
, the Soul Rebels, Galactic
, the Treme Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins
, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Bonerama
, John Gros, the 101 Runners, Shamarr Allen
, Cowboy Mouth, the Pfister Sisters, the New Orleans Nightingales, Anders Osborne, any member of the Neville Brothers
, Debauche, the Lost Bayou Ramblers and so many others?
While some of the things that made Voodoo special year-in and year-out have, it appears, been lost in sand of time, some of the festival's charm remained. Though less in numbers than in past years (in part due to this year's festival immediately following Halloween), many revelers arrived at City Park dressed in Halloween costumes. Some were clever. Some were provocative. Some were elaborate. Some fit into all three categories. Some were downright confusing. There were fun and interesting art installations (though outside of the big Voodoo Head, they were harder to find). The Ferris Wheel and other carnival rides were, as always, fun. The Toyota Soundwave Tent is a brilliant way to see some of the festival's most intriguing acts in an intimate setting. And the food...it was wonderful. The main food court area (featuring local cuisine and all sorts of barbecue fare) was more than just a food court. It was created to be the center of townforming a square in the middle of the festival site. In addition, there were a few other food and drink vendors located throughout the festival grounds.
Obviously, with new management, new grounds, new configuration, fewer stages, the first festival of the new era was going to be the test drive. Now that Steven Rehage and Live Nation know what worked, what didn't and what disappointed the faithful, the opportunity is there to make changes. They're needed.
The music, however, is how a festival should be judged (mostly). And on a musical note the 15th Voodoo Music + Arts Experience was a rousing success, blending high profile national and local musical acts (current chart-toppers, musical legends, emerging acts, and local heroes) representing many different genres into a three-day festival where the fans can and did "worship the music." Photo Credit
All photos: Christine Connallon
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon