Monday, November 11, 2013

Voodoo 2013 - Pearl Jam, NIN, Paramore, Billy Squier, Gaslight Anthem, New Found Glory, etc

A few quick thoughts on 2013 Voodoo Experience which took place in New Orleans at City Park from November 1 to 3.

First stop is usually the Toyota tent to once again fill in a fake name and email address in order to score the current year's free silk screen poster. You can get a bandana too, but I passed on that.

The Food.  The seafood bread bowl is something I always love, but I have to say, something was lacking this year, but I did find another vendor who was selling crabcakes covered with crawfish sauce which was friggin delicious.  Don't worry seafood bowl...I'll give you another shot next year...and crawfish sauce you know I'll be back for a taste...

Pearl Jam - Headlining Friday Night

Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints came out with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and introduced the band.  Gleason is diagnosed with ALS.  Many in attendance (including McCready) were wearing the Team Gleason shirts on sale all weekend (There was also a raffle for an amazing 1965 Mustang to support the charity).  Steve evidently has great taste in music as I spotted him the next day at the Carnival stage to catch the Reignwolf set.  I won't cover the Reignwolf set in this post - that absolute highlight of the weekend will get it's own post shortly.  Check out the Team Gleason website here.

This was about my 25th time seeing Pearl Jam since 1992.  I've never seen a bad Pearl Jam show and I've been to some of the legendary ones.  This one for me was not one of the greats, but an average Pearl Jam show is still a damn good show and Eddie was in fine voice.

The band was a tight well oiled machine and the aforementioned McCready lived up to his Guitar was just that the setlist seemed very fractured and did not have the natural connective flow of the great shows I've seen.

Perhaps it was the festival setting that led to a very early album hits filled set which most of the crowd loved. All the singles from "Ten" (Alive, Jeremy, Even Flow and Black) plus Animal, Go, Daughter (With Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" tag) and Rearviewmirror from "Vs." 
Some of these I love and a bunch I wish I would never have to hear again at a PJ show, so maybe it was a bit of the curse of seeing them so many times that didn't have me enjoying this haphazard jukebox feel of a set.
We did get a great "Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns" to open the admittedly very strong encore set.  If only the main set flowed as well as the encore set, then this would have been an epic show instead of just a good one.

After the show we hightailed it to The Parish at House of Blues to see the Reignwolf aftershow of which we could use the word epic freely.  Read about that here.

Let's talk a little about the new setup of the festival. In two words "It sucks."

In the past when entering the festival grounds behind the Art Museum at City Park, you would pass through the gates into the beautiful oval path framed by trees with hanging moss.  The up to seven stages would be at intervals off the path and in general you could sit in front of one stage without hearing much of any other.

This year, that oval path was blocked off and we were lead into a big open field with only four stages.  There are sinkholes all over the place and at night very few lights.  Layout wise, the unique and special feel of the festival is gone.

There has always been an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) presence at Voodoo, but this year they upped the ante, or more accurately, I should say volume.  If you love EDM, don't worry if you go to one of the other three stages to check out anohter act, It was so loud, you can clearly hear it at every other stage, often even when the bands are playing.  Numerous acts brought this up while on stage.

I think one of the biggest changes for the worse was the removal of the Preservation Hall stage.  That was so unique to Voodoo and while they did have a few bands that normally would play have played on that stage appear this year on other stages, it was always good to know if you came to Voodoo, that you could, at any time, hear some real Jazz and Blues.

I tend to wonder if next year Voodoo will just become an EDM fest.  Time will tell.

I will say one positive change about Voodoo this year - the addition of two small craft beer pavillions.  It was always disappointing to have such wonderful choice of food, but only about three beer choices.  This small local beer presence was definitely appreciated.

Now back to the music...

While pondering the above and and relaxing after Reignwolf's set I enjoyed some funnel cake with with apple deliciousness on top while watching New Found Glory.  I took me back in time to some of the mid to late 90's Warped Tours I'd been too.

Didn't do any rides this year, but I have to admit I kinda dig the little carnival section and the atmosphere it brings.  I should have done the Ferris Wheel again during Nine Inch Nails.  Always fun to get that overview of the crowd during the headline sets - but it was DAMN CHILLY...reminder for next year - no matter how warm/hot it is when you head to the park during the day - bring hoodie!

Lots o' wacky costumes but not as many as in the Past as Halloween fell on the Thursday prior to the fest..  Next year the opening night is Halloween so just about everyone will be doing up the costumes.  Halloween in New Orleans always a hoot!  I recommend it to all at least once.

Gaslight Anthem.  Oddly like Pearl Jam in that they've been much better the past times I've seen them, but still a solid set and a great rock band.

Walked around a bit and then went back to the main stage to check out Paramore who put on an engergetic set.  Some catchy tunes, but overall not really my cup of tea, but enjoyable and people (especially the younger gals) dug 'em immensely.  I do like Hayley Williams' cross between Leeloo from Fifth Element meets Pris from Blade Runner look.

Billy Squier was on the stage next to the main one and I was excited to see him as part of the lineup announcement.  There's not a lot of straight up classic rock at Voodoo and I haven't seen him since his surprise opening set for Bon Jovi's end of tour show at Giant's Stadium in NJ in 1989.

He was scheduled to start 15 min before Nine Inch Nails and play an hour set. I do have to say Voodoo had the bands on a very punctual schedule.  So we headed over about 8:30 to catch 15 min of Billy when he came on at 8:45 before jumping over to the Main Stage right next to it to catch Nine Inch Nails (scheduled to start at 9:00) and then maybe jump back and forth.  Billy was 12 min late which was a bummer and we decided to start walking over to the main stage.

Then Billy walks out with electric guitar, but it was the first time I noticed there was no backing band set up on stage...Billy was gonna stroke us solo??  What the fuck?  His rockin tunes need a full band backing...this was not looking good...but let's see what he's got.

Then Billy starts strumming the "Lonely Is The Night" riff and it sounds good...okay cool...and then proceeds to basically use it as a live sound check stopping after every line just as the audience was ready to rock asking his sound guy to set the levels.

It's a fucking guitar and hard is it to get the levels right?  Especially when you're about 15 min late and there was at least 30 minutes before that with no one playing on that stage.

Then when he gets to the point where the whole band should kick in and the song really rocks.  He ends it...yes, like basically 1 minute into the song.

At this point Nine Inch Nails was about to start...I was bummed.  We left and returned later to hopefully hear a hit or two and instead walked up hearing Billy talk about how in the late 90's he became disillusioned with the music biz and was going to play some song he wrote then.

Look, I get it...he has more than the early hits, but this was a one hour gig headlining a festival stage.  This is not your hardcore audience who wants to hear deep cuts and how do you not get a backing band? You're in New Orleans for crissakes - I'm sure he could have gotten an ace backing band for free.  When you're doing your two hour club gig for your hardcore fans then take the time to mix it up with your late 90's stuff.  This should have been a fun rockin kickass set, instead Billy Squier was the biggest disappointment of Voodoo when I think he could have been one of those surprise sets everyone would have talked about.

I will say he looked and sounded good and if he gets two or three guys behind him I'd go see him in a second, but I guess that's not what he's into these days.

Nine Inch Nails.  Hometown Heroes at this point.  I've seen them about 10 times since 1991 and while always good, this was a revived rock n roll animal (RIP Lou Reed) on this night. "March of the Pigs" was the highlight for me.  Video I shot of it is here and below are some photos I took.

Great way to end the night and there you go with some memories of 2013 Voodoo.

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