For the better part of two decades, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience has brought thousands of music fans to New Orleans for a spooky fun festival every Halloween weekend. What began as a regional event has evolved into a full-fledged destination for concertgoers, and this year's lineup only reinforces the event's reputation. The annual festival brings a little something for everyone in its 2017 roster, making for an enticing weekend trip for Houstonians. Rap fans will be treated to sets from Kendrick Lamar, RL Grime and Post Malone. Rock fans get to see the Foo Fighters, The Killers, Prophets of Rage, Brand New and LCD Soundsystem, among others.
In total, the festival boasts more than 70 bands across four stages. Attendees also get access to the Mortuary Haunted Mansion, one of the Crescent City's favorite haunts. Three-day general admission tickets are just $155 (before convenience fees), and single-day tickets are only $70-$80, depending on the date. Coupled with the cost of getting to NOLA and finding a hotel, the Voodoo Experience ain’t cheap, but it won’t break the bank either. For Houstonians looking to whet their musical palates before Day For Night in December, it’s a fantastic option. MATTHEW KEEVER
Voodoo Fest may be yet another music festival coming off the C3 assembly line, but it gets a lot of credit for its full-on commitment to the NOLA-inspired "voodoo" experience. The festival embraces an aesthetic of the carnivalesque: There's a cemetery replete with a Ferris wheel and face-painting, oversized bodega prayer candles and scandalously costumed attendees as far as the eye can see. That kind of bayou-style libertinism is sure to make for a memorable Halloween weekend, music notwithstanding. Yet Voodoo Fest has a lineup that's worth driving for. A finely curated sample rounds out the festival's undercard: There's the deep, classic soul of Durand Jones and the Indications, the brooding punk of Mannequin Pussy and the careful electronic craftsmanship of TOKiMONSTA. The headliners, too, aren't anything to sneeze at. Anointed rap titan Kendrick Lamar won't disappoint, nor will the syrupy vocals of R&B ingénue Kehlani or the hardscrabble guitar of rock and roll veterans Foo Fighters. All that for a three-day price tag of only $155 makes Voodoo Fest a pretty safe bet. And even if it turns out to be a bust, you can still spend your weekend in New Orleans, a city that is equal parts haunting and beautiful. Gas up, y'all — you've got Halloween plans. KATIE SULLIVAN
Is Voodoo Fest worth the drive? The real question you need to ask yourself is if New Orleans is worth the drive...and the answer is not only “Yes,” but “Hell, Yes!” Whether this is your first time in The Big Easy or your hundredth, that magic will shine bright, making this not only a trip, but an adventure. The festival itself is one of the favorites of the year to both seasoned festival attendees and the media outlets covering them. All fests are an opportunity to dress up and go wild, but in the build-up to Halloween night, Voodoo pushes the excitement to the max. Not only do the fans play dress-up, but many of the bands do as well. Our very own The Suffers dressed up as a bloody-nosed Andrew W.K. when they played the fest two years ago. Imagine headliner Kendrick Lamar hitting the stage as zombie Michael Jackson, or the Foo Fighters playing their set in full KISS makeup. Not saying it will happen, but in New Orleans, anything goes. And to top it off, Houston's very own DJ Gracie Chavez is making her major music festival debut on Saturday. She's also the opening act for Ghostland Observatory at House of Blues – New Orleans this Thursday in a festival pre-show. Expect big things from her and the rest of the Bombón Houston crew in 2018. MARCO TORRES
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Depth is all well and good when it comes to a festival, as it certainly marks a time to catch a ton of quality bands in one space over the span of a weekend. But when it comes down to it, a festival is only as good as its headliners. And, man, does Voodoo Fest have some major headliners this year. Kendrick Lamar, arguably the hottest hip-hop star in the game today, kicks off the festivities on Friday night. Foo Fighters, a band that always delivers live, closes things out on Saturday night. And the Killers, a band whose bombastic and grandiose style always produces an entertaining live show, wrap up the festival on Sunday night. Throw in other top-tier acts, like LCD Soundsystem, Dillon Francis and The Head and the Heart, and you have one of the best festivals within driving distance of Houston. It’s also among the most affordable; you can score three-day passes for around $125. Plus, it’s Halloween weekend in New Orleans, which means post-festival activities will be livelier than usual. Not to mention the Saints host the Bears on Sunday at noon. Check out some football, hop an Uber and close out the festival. What’s not to love? CLINT HALE
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One good reason to travel to Voodoo Fest is to continue the momentum ACL Festival visitors created by packing Zilker Park after the October 1 attack on Route 91 Harvest concertgoers in Las Vegas. Unafraid and undeterred, they proved that music fans won't cower to terror. Speaking of ACL, if you were unable to attend the 2017 installment, many of its acts will perform at Voodoo this weekend including headliners The Killers. Others headed to New Orleans from Austin include Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness, The Black Angels and Benjamin Booker. Two other acts, both highly recommended based on their ACL sets, are Mondo Cozmo and Whitney. The former is an indie rock act with a passionate front man whose Springsteen- and Dylan-influenced music has spiritual undertones; the latter is a Chicago-based group with poetic lyrics whose early work has evoked comparisons to Paul Simon, Bon Iver and Girls. One thing Voodoo will have that was sorely missing from ACL this year is a Houston music presence, thanks to our own DJ Gracie Chavez, who will undoubtedly have Nawlins moving and, as she promises on her Facebook page, will be "representin @bombonhouston all the way from #screwston." JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
To buy tickets and for more information on Voodoo Fest, visit voodoofestival.com.