Live Review

Voodoo Experience 2010 (Day One)

When they call this festival an Experience, they aren’t kidding…

When they call this festival an Experience, they aren’t kidding. It’s a fun fair, a carnival and a music festival all rolled into one. Local vendors line the park, the tents where the bands play are spread out over the idyllic site that is City Park. People are roaming around in the sun in their costumes, Halloween inspired and not, thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The first performer to play the main stage is AM, a native New Orleanian who now lives in LA. His breezy seemingly 70’s inspired rock is obviously influenced by the city he grew up in. His layers are complex in the same way Jazz tends to be, overlapping each other and playing with the sound that the audience hears. And his voice does in fact sound like Beck’s, just as his press release promises. Though we only catch the last two songs, a severe disappointment due to late arrival, those two songs are sunshiny and delightful.

After AM, Innerpartysystem perform at the Billboard tent, and though it’s still early in the afternoon there’s a serious crowd waiting for them, all in neon face paint and weird headbands with ears on them just ready to start the danceparty. They work incredibly hard, pushing an unbelievable amount of energy into their synthesizers and keyboards. The insistent nature of their music is certainly helped by the experience of a live drummer; it adds almost a danger to the recorded character of the sound.

By now, the festival has given us 70’s rock and dance music. As we make our way back to the main stage, the first few notes of ‘Bad Romance’ ring out. Big Sam’s Funky Nation, playing in the Preservation Hall Tent, are doing the Brass Band version of Lady Gaga. It’s pretty incredible to hear such a deviation from the original song. After that, they break into ‘When The Saint’s Go Marching In’, to the delight of the crowd. Cries of ‘Who Dat’ come from the stage and audience alike.

After a blast of good old New Orleans Brass, Dead Confederate take to the main stage. Their combination of grunge and psychedelic rock allows the audience to bask in the sun on the grass, with the heavy guitar riffs and Hardy Morris’ very pretty voice becoming a dark meditation.

Nearly immediately after Dead Confederate (the main stage times are staggered really well), Jonsi starts to play. You can absolutely hear from where he hails. There are certainly elements of Sigur Ros in his music, but it doesn’t overshadow that it’s entirely his. Xylophones, ancient looking pianos and something that looks like record player decorate the stage giving the feeling of sitting in someone’s very large, open air living room. The instruments layer on top of each other, surrounding you with a bubble of music that is full of joy. This juxtaposition is amazing and nearly in direct opposition with Dead Confederate right before.

Frontwomen rock, they really rock. Maybe its because they are taking on a classically male role and infusing it with a particular form of sexuality, or maybe they are just some bad ass chicks. Either way, Emily Haines of Metric really fills that role. The Canadian band jump onstage, full of energy and ready to rock. They are formidable musicians, play incredibly tightly and certainly and obviously love what they do. They are thoroughly awesome to watch.

After Metric, there’s a direct conflict: Weezer on one of the main stages vs Hot Chip headlining the Billboard tent. Honestly, it’s a little strange to see Hot Chip playing such a relatively small venue, being used to seeing them draw insane numbers in the UK. The crowd at the tent is pretty big and the band really makes everyone move, pulsing to the music. As always, they are epic performers, drawing the audience in with a certain level of awkwardness to their smooth sounds. It’s a funny combination but one that works exceedingly well.

Then there are the headliners. In a battle of Weezer vs Muse (one that Rivers seemingly tries to generate), it’s a neck and neck competition. Both are incredibly dynamic performers, the shows are incredible. Both styles of performance are very telling of the kind of bands they are.

Muse’s show is awe inspiring: the light show, the video behind them - so unbelievably thought provoking and interesting. Not to mention the incredible musicianship of Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard. Even though they have never played in this city, the crowd is enormous. People are transfixed by Bellamy’s disco ball suit and the way they rule the stage. No matter how compelling they are however, there is a level of aloofness to their act; a remove from the audience that lends an air of polished professionalism.

Muse are nearly the diametric opposite of Weezer. Rivers Cuomo bounces onstage like some strange combination of a grandfather and a teenage boy. He is overexcited and makes the crowd overexcited as well. We are all like teenagers again, even the seasoned photographers in the pit - especially so when Rivers jumps onto the speakers up front. He then does the same to those in the front of the crowd, before running up and down the barriers and into the light booth to play with the cameras projecting the show onto gigantic screens. Rivers makes the crowd so happy, people are beaming, and he is a maniac in the best possible way. If there was a competition for craziest motherfucker up front, it would be Rivers Cuomo. And they all love it; the band looks like they, after 18 years, are still having fun like they were just starting out.

When attending a festival as press, you tend to forget that they are really quite wonderful; they are relaxing and fun. When they are planned right there is a good amount of time between sets. On a beautiful day, you can sit on the grass, have a beer and maybe a cigarette and listen to all kinds of music; brass bands, heavy rock, classic indie pop, dance music… It reminds you that all things, even the ones that might be bad for you (alcohol, tobacco, loud music) are, in small bursts, in fact soothing to the soul.

Tags: Weezer, Features

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY