ML @ The Voodoo Experience 2009, Review.

(Photo by Hannah Lipman)

View the full photo set here (Thanks Hannah & Joshua)

[Ed Note: Here is the grand recap of all the on-goings that happened this past weekend in New Orleans, as seen through the eyes of ML contributor Julie. Be sure to check out Julie’s twitter stream which had a bunch of nuggets from the festival. Also, if you would like to check out Eminem’s performance, I got word that it will be airing on Fuse as a part of the Best of Voodoo 2009 TV Special, tonight, November 6th @ 10PM EST (check the trailer here).]

Taking place during Halloween weekend in a city known as one of the greatest places in the country to don a costume, listen to music and get drunk, The Voodoo Experience 2009 inspired a lot of expectations. We’re talking Eminem, KISS on Halloween night, P. Funk, local artists that sound like nothing you’ve heard before, funky folk artists and talented craftspeople… and overall, Voodoo brought it. This festival required a stamina that most don’t because it was interrupted by some of the wildest Halloween parties in the nation. Voodoo, however, proved worthy of every ounce of effort it required to dance through each and every show.

The festival got off to a rough start with the chilliest storm New Orleans has seen all season. Mud, rain and kicking The Knux off stage didn’t make for the most promising opening day. Yet the festies got creative, borrowing trash bags from the grounds crews to make ponchos and huddling together at Justice to keep warm. With the help of a few beers and an other-worldly dance party/light show, the crowd managed to forget the cold and have a blast. Most people who lasted that long trudged through the ankle-deep mud to at least catch the first few songs from Eminem + D12 before heading out. Eminem’s decade of fame has taught him how to really wake a crowd up, showing a gory short film of a psychotic, asylum-bound, murderous Marshall Mathers. They threw in gunshot noises between songs, keeping the audience on their toes throughout Eminem’s energetic performance. When the audience finally dispersed, most people looked pumped for the next day’s shows.

Saturday’s lineup included The Black Lips, Mates of State, a cancelled K’naan show, Mutemath, Gogol Bordello, Parliament-Funkadelic and KISS. Few people showed up without a costume, and the crowd started drinking early. The festival had a friendly, frenetic vibe, people getting more and more excited as the day wore on. Strangers took pictures of and with one another, and the festival-goers traded tips on where to spend the evening between the countless after-parties, Halloween parties and Frenchmen Street.  Security wasn’t too tight, and most shows smelled strongly of pot, contributing to the audience’s already relaxed, comfortable vibe. K’naan’s cancelled show changed the locations of many artists slotted to perform around the same time, making for a confusing afternoon. Yet things got back on schedule by Mutemath.

Gogol Bordello got the festies dancing harder than any other show all weekend, save Justice. P. Funk, on the other hand, played for a relatively small, chill crowd on a quiet stage between folk art vendors’ tents. As they got funky, the majority of the festival-goers rushed toward the KISS stage, dancing through art installments on their way. The crowd was packed, and KISS was, in a word, insane. Pyrotechnics, Gene Simmons flying across the stage, an infomercial between songs to buy their new album — it’s available at WalMart, apparently Simmons has seen it there. Teens and college kids were busy texting their dads, blown away that rock ‘n’ roll used to rock this hard. Older women in leather jackets and KISS-style face paint sang every word of the KISS classics (though, as Simmons reminded us, just because something is a classic doesn’t make it an oldie). People walked out of City Park that day high from the music and drunk from the spectacle, ready for an even wilder show: the New Orleans Halloween scene.

The entire festival crowd seemed at least a little bit hungover Sunday. Relatively few people showed up before The Flaming Lips, but the Voodoo producers seem to have anticipated this. With an emptier schedule than any other day, Sunday’s big shows included The Pogues, Widespread Panic, The Flaming Lips and Lenny Kravitz. Yes, Lenny Kravitz. It was almost as if they wanted to clear the park before the final performance. Yet those who did leave before Lenny walked away with a most beautiful ending to an exhausting weekend. The almost too-mellow show saved itself by concluding with the sound of “Do You Realize?” playing under the full moon, tens of thousands strips of confetti floating in the dark sky like psychedelic stars, and an entire audience singing together “to make the good things last.”

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