NEW ORLEANS – Music festivals’ worth, as I’ve often reiterated, are determined by the headliners. Depth is all well and good, but in the end, those who close out the fest often dictate the success – or lack thereof – of said festival. As much was evident by New Orleans’ annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, aka Voodoo Fest, which took place over the pre-Halloween weekend.
Kendrick Lamar, arguably the hottest rapper in the game today, kicked things off on Friday. Foo Fighters, perhaps the most noteworthy mainstream rock band of the past 20 years (sorry, Green Day) on Saturday. And The Killers, whose grandiose and bombastic show is unrivaled, closing things down on Sunday night. That’s how a festival is done.
The Killers, as I’ve stated ad nauseum, are my favorite band. And while I like their catalog just fine, my impression of them – after several concerts – was always influenced most by their live show. Brandon Flowers and crew didn’t disappoint at Voodoo Fest, ripping thru a 90-minute set that featured all the hits.
In fact, extra props to The Killers for not playing too many tracks from their new album, Wonderful Wonderful. While a good record for sure, some bands tend to over-rely on new material when playing to a festival crowd that, quite honestly, came to hear the hits. Aside from “The Man” and “Run For Cover,” The Killers didn’t play any tracks from their latest album, instead relying on past hits like “Mr. Brightside,” “Read My Mind,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” and the show-closing “When You Were Young.” It marked one hell of a way to close out a festival that deserved such a send-off.
There’s not much else that needs to be said about the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and crew are almost classic rockers at this point, a band with a near-universal approval rating. So it made sense that the Godfathers of the mainstream-rock scene closed out Saturday night with a rocking 90-minute set that featured the hits for which the band has come to be known. Rumors have surfaced in recent years that Grohl and his bandmates may be looking to take a break from the grind of touring and recording; here’s hoping those rumors prove false.
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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the festival on Friday to catch Kendrick Lamar do his thing. Though, in speaking with numerous folks who did, Kung-Fu Kenny delivered as he previously has at such festivals as ACL and Day for Night.
Sets from Brand New, The Head and the Heart and Cold War Kids only furthered Voodoo Fest’s rep as one of the hottest festivals on the scene. But, in the end, the headliners tell the tale of where a festival stands on the musical landscape. As Voodoo Fest proved all so well, it’s stature in the marketplace is more than secure.
The Festival: Props to Voodoo Fest for featuring some nice little intricacies that made it special to New Orleans. There was the on-site “cemetery” and “morgue,” whereupon festivalgoers could walk around and take pictures by gravestones and the like. The Ferris wheel was a nice touch as well. In all, the porta-potty lines moved with ease, the beer lines moved and the food court was solid. A great outing from the folks that also put on Austin City Limits Music Festival.
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The Crowd: Nice mix of folks. Old. Young. Hipster. Families. A nice array of festivalgoers, which made for one hell of a weekend.
Throwback Jerseys: Man, they were out in force. A quick summation of the throwbacks in the crowd included, but certainly wasn’t limited to, the following: a LaDainian Tomlinson Jets jersey; Bill Laimbeer Pistons gear;
and old-school Astros jerseys, mostly Bagwell and Biggio. Speaking of which…
Astros Alert: Fortunately, Voodoo Fest featured televisions in the craft beer tent, which was nice, considering the Texans and Astros played in some important games over the weekend. How fitting it was that just as the festival closed out Sunday night, Yuli Gurriel clocked a three-run homer to tie things up. We were kicked out shortly thereafter, but it sent the pro-Houston crowd out in a fever pitch.
Special Props: I’ve had some negative things to say about Dallas’ own Post Malone in the recent past, which didn’t exactly please Post or his fans. That said, props to him for paying tribute to those fallen in the Las Vegas music-festival shooting. Great moment right there.