The Tulane Hullabaloo

The Arcade’s Voodoo Recap

Laura Rostad, Sam Ergina, and Tyler Mead

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Last weekend thousands of music lovers and festivalgoers gathered in City Park to attend the annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.

Per tradition, the three-day music festival artfully blended together nationally renowned musicians with local all-stars to create a Halloween spectacular.

Any sort of dress code was deemed arbitrary, as fans sported combinations of sensational Halloween costumes and eccentric festival attire. Voodoo brought together characters from all walks of life, including the Pink Power Ranger, a giant Teddy Bear and a faceless Grim Reaper. In fact, not only was The Arcade lucky enough to find Waldo, but we actually stumbled upon an entire clan of Waldos. Apparently Waldo only travels in packs at musical festivals.

The “anything goes” philosophy of costuming only enhanced the overall carefree atmosphere of the festival.

Voodoo featured several art installations, including the iconic glowing “Voodoo” sign atop a centrally located hill of the festival grounds. As attendees approached the entrance, they were greeted by an enormous red metal rose structure, which temporarily resides in City Park as part of the international art biennial Prospect 3.

The festival also featured a towering, multi-layered cone structure that invited people to enter and explore it. Other art instillations included a massive spider, a climbable bird-like creature and a gigantic metal face with constantly changing facial expressions. All of the art installations took on a different tone at nighttime, when each structures’ distinctive lights illuminated the darkness.

Food vendors ranged from Cajun classics such as red beans and rice to traditional Mexican tacos and tamales and trendy Vietnamese Pho. The carnival themed area entertained festivalgoers with a Ferris wheel among other rides and games, as well as food stands selling arepas, soft pretzels and smoothies.

From the bands and the costumes to the art and the food, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience was certainly an entertaining spectacle.

The Voodoo Experience started out strong. The first day had some of the biggest acts, as well as some acts that are gaining momentum in the journey to mainstream fame.

Twenty One Pilots performed at the main stage, Ritual, at 4:30 p.m. which created a line snaking away from the entrance to the festival for a mile. The band is a duo consisting of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. The two bounced around the stage in skeleton costumes and performed with a sound as good as its studio-recorded versions. It put on an incredible performance, singing songs from its album, Vessel, while Joseph climbed the rafters in the middle of the crowd and Dun played on a drum set held up by the audience.

The next big up-and-comer was Action Bronson at 7 p.m., the ex-chef from Queens, New York. Bronson performed songs from several mixtapes and albums, intermittently cutting off his DJ and joking around with the crowd. A particular highlight was Bronson “taking the crowd through the 80’s”, rapping over samples of 80’s pop tunes and walking around in the audience while performing. He winded down the show with some brand-new tracks from his phone as the bulk of the crowd slowly moved to Zedd.

Zedd performed at 8:30 p.m. at the Electronic stage, Le Plur. He came on wearing a Skrillex wig and played his most famous tracks including “Clarity”, “Stay the Night” and “Break Free” as well as some new remixes. The stage was packed with confetti canons, lasers and changing images as Zedd kept the crowd’s energy alive for two hyped-up hours, showing no signs of slowing down.

The finale was the newly reassembled Outkast at 9:20 p.m. at Ritual. Big Boi and Andre 3000 entertained the crowd with wigs and played some tracks most of the audience knew in between the iconic songs such as “Roses”, “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya”, which included some audience participation including Andre 3000 bringing a few girls up to the stage to shake it like polaroid pictures.

Voodoo Music Festival absolutely hit its climax on day two, and it got weird. We’re talking leather jackets, Jesus, and crying weird, in the best way possible.

One of the coolest aspects of Voodoo this year was seeing it from very beginning to end. There’s something incredibly tranquil about a near empty outdoor venue, even when Naughty Professor was tearing it up on the Carnival stage.

Loyola’s own funk band earned their Voodoo stripes easily. The entire grounds could hear the blast of Naughty Professor’s horns. One of the biggest benefits for them performing at noon was no one else was competing for attention. They created the backdrop for the start to Voodoo, and their unique brand of funk was the perfect kick off to an awesome day of music and art.

The first band to hit the Ritual stage was Flow Tribe. Flow Tribe already has an amazing mix of funk and R&B, but what really made them shine were their covers. The theme song from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” was nestled in the middle of their set, and the audience absolutely lost it. Everyone loves Will Smith, and everyone screamed the words of the 90’s anthem, it was beautiful. They closed with a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” which fit surprisingly well with the rest of their set, yet still being jarring enough to be a twist ending.

One of the biggest surprises came from the Seattle based band, Barcelona. The west coast triad was struggling to be heard at Flambeau stage when Death from Above began blaring their head banger anthems, but the band flourished on the smaller stage. Their music fell more on the relaxed side of Voodoo’s spectrum, but a beautiful vocal performance coupled with excellent music composition definitely cemented them a spot as one of Voodoo’s best performances.

Ms. Lauryn Hill was the next to hit Ritual stage, but it can’t be ignored that she arrived 40 minutes late to her own show. Her stage presence was truly awe inspiring, and she brought her A-game to her performance, but there were some issues. The first was the mysterious circumstances surround her lateness. One of the spokesmen for Voodoo explained she was late, without giving a reason, and made everything sound like it was fine. When Lauryn Hill hit the stage however, she was visibly crying, and had to pull the mic away numerous times to compose herself. Her set was cut to about 20 minutes, but she later played the rest of her set on Flambaeu, and by all accounts crushed it.

Voodoo day two had so many highs, that it almost had to be expected someone would crash and burn. 30 Seconds to Mars filled that place. Jared Leto was off to a bad start when he entered the stage in a Jesus costume, which was amazingly not his most self-indulgent act of the night. The band only ended up performing about three of their songs, which mostly blended together as background noise. Over an hour of the show was dedicated to Leto yelling, “woah” then pointing his microphone at the audience who would then repeat the word “woah.” This was frequently interrupted by Leto telling audience members to jump, or put their hands up, but fell flat due to a sheer lack of content. To the bands credit, they do know how to do over the top. Confetti canons, giant balloons, and about 50 fans hit the stage at some point, but all the theatrics in the world can’t make up for a sub-par performance.

Then lightning in a leather jacket struck. The Arctic Monkeys hit Ritual with guns blazing, and began their set with the hit single “Do I Wanna Know,” setting the tone for the rest of their performance. The contrast between The Arctic Monkeys and 30 Seconds to Mars was astounding. Instead of the audience receiving orders to get into the music, the audience swelled with each chorus. Front man Alex Turner radiates cool, and only rarely took a break from singing to set up songs like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” with phrases like, “I believe it was Nietzsche who first said.” The Arctic Monkeys were not only the headline, but the unquestionably best performance of the day.

Voodoo truly exemplified its description as not a music festival, but an “experience,” with interactive sculptures around the grounds, amusement park rides such as a rollercoaster and a Ferris wheel and an enormous array of food options. On top of that it was a beautiful, cool weekend, spent worshipping the music.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
The Arcade’s Voodoo Recap