Festivals are an especially fun setting to people watch, but Voodoo always manages to take that experience up a notch…or five. Since the three-day affair falls on or near Halloween, spirited attendees turn out in some kind of costume, making the moment feel closer to a Fellini film than the typical characters who spring up at festivals wearing flower crowns and gold lamé hot pants.
Bands get into the spirit, too. Shakey Graves and his band dressed up like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while Cage the Elephant’s Matthew Shultz sported fangs and looked as though he’d recently been feasting on an artery or two. The Claypool Lennon Delirium dressed up in top hats and groovy garb, but I’m still not entirely certain it wasn’t their everyday wear.
Shakey Graves at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
Music-wise, it was a day more for rock than yesterday’s venture into hip-hop. Oddly, the earlier sets felt especially heavy considering the sun was beating down on the arriving crowd. Stoner blues stalwarts All Them Witches and garage quartet Bully (both from Nashville) could have easily played later in the afternoon for their sheer bombast, delivering heady performances that eclipsed later acts.
That the early bands felt premature probably had something to do with the weather. Even though we’re in the last few days of October, it felt closer to May; the temperature was on everyone’s mind, especially performers facing directly into the sun, so, in other words, three quarters of all bands playing the festival. The hydration stations, where attendees could refill water bottles, were absolutely packed, each line stretching some thirty-some people deep. And that was before the crowds really started to spill in.
Bully at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
Saint Motel had a gleaming moment of dreamy indie rock that started when the band’s lead singer, A/J Jackson, walked onstage wearing a gorgeously decorated purple cape. Their set quickly gathered a hearty crowd. Unfortunately, the stage Saint Motel played had been plagued with minor sound issues on Friday, which carried over to Saturday. A thin whine disrupted what was arguably one of the better sets of the weekend.
Saint Motel at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
London chill-pop duo Oh Wonder offered one of the sweeter moments of the day, facilitated by members Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. After asking where Kaitlyn was in their crowd, Vander Gucht said, “Your boyfriend has something to ask you.” It marked the second proposal of the weekend (the first having taken place at G-Eazy’s set the day previous). Cheers abounded and the group segued into their luminous single, “Landslide.”
The Claypool Lennon Delirium at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
The award for trippiest and most appropriate Voodoo performance goes to The Claypool Lennon Delirium. The men entered the stage as if they’d stepped out of some steampunk runway. Supergroups may rest on their laurels, but the new project from Les Claypool and Sean Lennon put on one hell of a show and helped transition the festival into the night’s more explosive moments, which included Cage the Elephant and Tool.
No one told Cage the Elephant’s lead singer Matt Shultz he need stick to the stage, and so he roamed back and forth, embodying a modern Mick Jagger with his frenetic dance moves, and winning the award for most performative performance.
Cage the Elephant at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
Tool closed out the night and made us all the more anxious for a hypothetical album, following a decade of legal limbo since last album 10,000 Days in 2006. Where in the past Maynard James Keenan has faced away from audiences, he instead got in the Halloween spirit and took the stage wearing a costume made up of what looked to be militaristic black riot gear. He even wished everybody a happy All Saint’s Day weekend.
Tool at The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Day Two
The band made their way through classics like “The Grudge” and “Forty Six & 2,” exploding into heavy extended versions that kept most of the crowd glued. One of the night’s more surreal moments came when I stopped by Brew Dat, the craft beer hall, and found a cadre of baseball fans watching the World Series while Tool played in the background. Voodoo, it seems, has a little something for everybody, and sometimes two things at once.