Over the weekend The Voodoo Music + Arts Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with amazing performances from Janelle Monáe, Big Thief, Tom Misch, Mumford & Sons, the Arctic Monkeys and more. One of the things that I really dig about Voodoo is that like most of the truly well established festivals, it has its own vibe and feel. The wonderful strangeness of Halloween in New Orleans has completely saturated the festival’s whole being. It leads to joyous moments like Lizzo and her crew decked out as the Sailor Scouts or a group of locals all dressed up a Galatoire’s waiters, complete with name tags and aprons. There is so much creativity on display that it is hard not to get swept up in it. Despite a muddy start, this year was no different. A few words about some of my favorite performances below.
Adrianne Lenker and company took to the South Course stage with the sun bearing down on them Saturday afternoon and proceed to pour in an absolutely outstanding set. Lenker continues to develop as a performer and her confidence overwhelmed the small stage. There were several moments where the band pushed against the edges of their songs and found the space to jam with each other. There was definitely a Crazy Horse feeling to the proceedings with Lenker and her mates pushing her songs to the limit.
Janelle Monáe is an overwhelming force. Her performance was polished and perfectly choreographed for the Altar stage. The tracks from her new record Dirty Computer sound great live. It is unfortunate that she was cut off with just a couple of minutes left in her closing number. Despite the early exit this was clearly the most spectacular show of the weekend. Monáe’s work was constantly accentuated by the dancers and costumes and never overwhelmed by them.
After growing his name and talent on Soundcloud over the past few years, Tom Misch as been on a meteoric rise since the release of his debut album Geography in April. I have to say that personally this was the Voodoo set I was most interested in seeing this year. I love the sound that Misch has developed and the trend back toward experimenting with traditional R&B elements that is emerging in the UK now. Misch sounded great and the audience was absolutely rapt for his set.
On Sunday night, the Arctic Monkeys closed out the festival and their fall tour with an outstanding performance on the Altar stage. Despite the gap between the piano driven sound of their most recent record and dance rock start the show had an excellent cohesion that gave the assembled fan everything they were looking for. Alex Turner’s songwriting abilities are so varied and so intricate that their performances often feel like an assemblage of small narrative journeys that fit together just so.
To Do This Week
Tonight you can catch All Them Witches at One Eyed Jacks. Tomorrow, the Snails are at Republic and Keith Urban drops into the Smoothie King Center. Saturday, local heavy metal ensemble Cane Hill are at Gasa. Tuesday, simple minds are at the Saenger and Maitri visits Gasa.
To Listen This Week
- Great new track from Cake via Youtube
- Thom Yorke plays a track from his Suspiria Soundtrack on the piano via Youtube
- Carole King has recorded a new version of “One” via CoS