This weekend you could be carving pumpkins and handing out candy, or doing something much cooler by jumping in the car and heading to New Orleans for the 16th annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. Costumed freaks and music fans alike will be descending on the historic City Park for three days of music and entertainment from the likes of Foo Fighters, Outkast, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Pretty Lights, Slayer, Gogol Bordello, Death From Above 1979 and a whole bunch of other great acts.
If you've never been to New Orleans during Halloween time, you're missing out. The addition of a great festival to take your days away before taking to the city at night is even more reason to head to the Big Easy for a few days of good music, delicious grub and a bit of debauchery thrown in for good measure.
If that isn't enough, here are ten more reasons that should give you that final push out of the door come Halloween morning.
The City New Orleans has so much going for it that it puts other cities to shame. It's its own world in every sense of the phrase. They even have their own language. It's far from the party-first reputation it's received over the years and features so much beauty and culture that a few days in the city is far from enough to really get a sense of what it is. That's what will make you fall in love and keep you coming back year after year.
The Rock Voodoo has always been known to add a diverse mix of acts, but one thing that has been consistent since its inception in 1999 is a solid core of rock and roll. This year is no different, with a lineup featuring a who's who of guitar gods and head-bangers. Foo Fighters will close this year's festival, but before that comes a healthy dose of rock, metal and punk from the likes of Slayer, Arctic Monkeys, Manchester Orchestra, the Melvins, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Rise Against, Fuel and a bunch more.
The Cuisine Both at the festival and specifically in the city of New Orleans, world-renowned restaurants are around every corner. There's a reason so many of the greatest chefs call New Orleans home (Besh, Prudhomme, Lagasse), and it's not only the jazz. From Commander's Palace to the Acme Oyster House to Café Du Monde to Emeril's to Cochon to Jacques-Imo's to the Gumbo House to pretty much anywhere else you decide to spend your dollars, you can't go wrong in New Orleans.
Check out all the festival has to offer, or as they're calling it, Foodoo
The Dancing Voodoo was one of the early adoptees of EDM culture, adding a dance stage well before most festivals got hip to the scene. Over the years they've hosted everyone under the sun, and the dance stage -- aptly named Le Plur -- has continued to draw huge crowds. This year's card features some huge names in headliners Skrillex, Pretty Lights and Zedd. Also set to make the kiddos sweat it out are Flux Pavilion, Fedde Le Grand, Claude Vonstroke, Booka Shade, Pete Tong, Thomas Gold, Griz and too many more to count.
Bourbon Street If you've been to Bourbon Street, well, you can probably skip this paragraph. If not, please read on. Bourbon Street is a dangerous place to be on an empty stomach. Please eat before heading to the French Quarter, but after your stomach has been properly lined, welcome to the booze gauntlet.
People argue across the street who has cheaper and stronger drinks. What looks like a window is actually a bar. What looks like a back alley is a bar. What looks like a bar is a bar, but you could throw a stone and hit 27 more. It's a wonderful place, although sometimes you won't want to remember the events that happen there. So go ahead and drink up.
The Weird, Unique Culture Voodoo, with its carnival theme, has always featured bands that are a little left of center, but put on incredible live shows. Gogol Bordello will leave you wanting more, while Peelander-Z will make you feel like you're in a Japanese cartoon. Fishbone are always a bit quirky but hella fun, and Big Freedia -- well, you know what that entails. Quintron and Miss Pussycat put on the best puppet show you'll see in some time, while March Fourth Marching Band will be parading the grounds in their signature black and red costumes toting their incredible home-made instruments.
Otherwise, you've got Carmine P. Filthy and a Boy Named Ruth, Church with Unicorn Fukr & Innerlign, and St. Cecilia's Asylum Chorus. I can barely say half those names, but I promise their shows are not worth missing. No other festival offers such unique programming.
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You Can Drink Anywhere As someone who likes to partake, especially when on vacation, why not have the ability to walk down the street with a tallboy? Why not have a mid-day stroll through the Quarter palming a hurricane? You used to be able to drink while in a moving vehicle, but even New Orleans was like, "well, maybe that's not such a good idea." Still, though, it's a good place for a drunkard.
The Local Music The best part of Voodoo is its strong ties to the New Orleans jazz and funk scene. If there isn't something to your liking at any given time of the day, you can never go wrong with Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels or Bonerama. This year, they gave a main-stage spot to local hero Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue, who will hold it down before the Foos close things out Sunday night. The local scene is also represented with sets from Givers, Royal Teeth, Honey Island Swamp Band, Flow Tribe and Luxley, among others.
The Aftershows Whether it be one of the official Deja Voodoo aftershows featuring the likes of Galactic, Fishbone, Destructo, Big Sam's Funky Nation, the London Souls and the Revivalists, or one of the many other musical offerings -- just walk down Frenchman Street around midnight and you'll have plenty of options -- there will be no lack of music hitting your ears this weekend. I once arrived at an aftershow at 4 in the morning and there was still an entire set left to go. These guys are serious about their music, and you can be the lucky recipient of their passion.
The Houston Contingent I know we get a fair share of shows from these two bands, but Voodoo will be treated to a double dose of Houston when both the Tontons and the Suffers take the stage on Sunday. The Suffers will play in the early afternoon on the Flambeau stage, while the Tontons will play on the same stage later, with the unfortunate circumstance of going against the first hour of Dave Grohl and Co. Still, even against those odds, I'm sure they'll pull in a nice portion of festival-dwellers.
Bonus Reason: The Festival Voodoo is unlike any other festival in several ways. It's never crowded walking around, but always has good crowds for shows. There are plenty of areas to relax, good shopping, yummy food and just the right amount of everything else to get you away from the music for a while. The fall New Orleans weather is just right, with warm days and cool nights, never too hot or cold. They only book bands that bring their all to the live arena, and once you step foot on the ground that will be proven instantly. It's hard not to have a good time while at the festival, and there's a little something for everyone the entire weekend.
There's a reason this will be my ninth Voodoo in a row. I couldn't think of a better place to be. I can't wait for this weekend! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
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