The 2012 Voodoo Music Experience

We’re still dragging a bit after three 15 hour days at Voodoo Fest 2012.  The bed is looking awfully nice, but lots of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe combined with looping the Sex Pistols on Spotify at high volume got us through a marathon photo evaluation and editing session.  Click through any of the photos for a full gallery view. You’ll want to upgrade your Internet connection for this…no cheapo, bottom-tier stuff.  We’re about to tear it up:

Day 1: Friday, October 26, 2012:  Here are some of our favorite shows from Day 1.  For photos of other acts, have a look at the complete Voodoo gallery–there’s a slideshow at the end of this post.

Die Antwoord was our top priority at Voodoo Fest 2012.  When they played Voodoo in 2010, we had never heard of them and didn’t really know what to expect.  That show was amazing, but we also experienced some major camera failures and limped through with one of the Nikons shooting white frames for two out of three shots.  This time, no mirror lockup mechanism explosions, but we did nearly suffer retinal damage from the orange suits.  We still prefer the first album and the costumes from the 2010 show, but their Voodoo 2012 show was both fantastic and predictably unsubtle, opening with DJ Hi Tek threatening to F us up the A, followed by Yolandi posing for some masterful bird shots, and the inevitable swinging of certain large, tattooed (yes, people) body parts by Ninja.  Hard to leave after the first three, but the security guard was pretty direct.  Photos:

Die Antwoord

Little Freddie King is a veteran of Louisiana music festivals, playing Jazz Fest, Voodoo, the Blues and BBQ Fest, in addition to a very busy nightclub schedule, so while his discography is short (six albums over a 50+ year career), who needs the vinyl anyway?  To hear Little Freddie, just look in the music listings and ring up a cab.   The band is Little Freddie King on electric blues guitar,”Wacko” Wade on drums (and management), Anthony “Sheets” on bass, and Robert Louis diTullio, Jr. on harmonica.  Yes, we see this band all the time.  And no, we’re not tired of them–not in the least.  In fact, they’re playing at d.b.a. in a few days…

Little Freddie King

Every large festival brings at least one look-at-each-other-and-go-WOW moment–Cherri Bomb and some crazy Japanese rock bands at SXSW 2012, Red Baraat  at Jazz Fest 2011, and Pimps of Joytime at Voodoo 2012.  Based in Brooklyn but with New Orleans roots, the funk/soul/dance/pop (emphasis on the funk, in our opinion) band’s primary interest is “making people sweat”.  Mission accomplished, with a stage full of crazy (Brian J), attitude (everyone), and beautiful (percussionists!), but for these long gigs, we always pack extra anti-perspirant.

Pimps of Joytime

For anchor acts, all you can do is hope they aren’t sick of it all yet and just running through the motions for cash (or groupies). Everything we’ve heard recently points to Neil Young being far from tired of performing, but checking it out personally is our job.  There was huge buzz at Voodoo over Neil Young and he was a primary draw (with Metallica) for the older crowd at the Festival.  With a worried look in their eye, many a grizzled concert veteran asked, “OK, so you’re going to get some good photos of Neil, right?  I’ll check the website!”  Confirmation: Neil Young definitely isn’t tired of performing.  Even his 2.5 hour time slot didn’t seem to be enough, and undoubtedly he’d have still been playing when Metallica took the stage the next day, given the choice.

Neil Young

We finished the day with another marathon performer, Bootsy Collins, whom we last covered at Tipitinas (simultaneously perhaps the most expensive Tips show ever and one of the best ever–we were reeling at 3am and he just wouldn’t let us go home!).   While the Voodoo show didn’t have the intimacy of Tips, Bootsy brought all the funk Cincinnati has to offer, once again.  Anyone know where Bootsy shops? Gotta have the Hendrix shirt and we kinda like those pants, too.

Bootsy Collins

Day 2: Saturday, October 27, 2012:

We were barely through our morning coffee and Lee Bains III was already soaked through, and no wonder–stroke-inducing guitar intensity, shoulder rides for the other guitar player, unnatural acts between guitar and amps, and ultimately exactly what they promised (but in our words, not theirs):  wanker-free rock and roll.  Utterly refreshing, absolutely non-alternative (thanks, Lord of Rock for delivering us) and one of our favorite acts of the entire festival.   Like Pimps of Joytime, an unexpected treat and festival attitude changer.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires

Two treats in one day?    Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are a nine piece band composed mostly of family (Sister Sparrow and head-banging harmonica madman and brother, Jackson) and close friends. Impossible to say how she fits that voice in there or how they contain that energy level when they’re not playing, but not our problem.  Another must-see-live band and another of our favorite performances of the Festival.  Check ’em out.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds 

Even when Debauche is a bit sleepy (for chrissakes, organizers, this band probably just went to sleep an hour earlier–book the old people at 11:45am!), always worth seeing:


 Next up, some Austin-grown hip hop, Zeale, who is currently touring with AWOLNATION:


And then, as things get even weirder, Chicano Batman, superheros and self-professed blenders of bossa nova, samba, psychedelia, and surf-rock cumbia:

Chicano Batman

Quirky, 80s-inspired pop, with a fantastic vocalist:

The Features

 Electronica-infused, bass-heavy, sometimes-soulful pop:


Toots has been laying it down on vinyl since 1964’s “I’ll Never Grow Old”.  How many more times can we hear Funky Kingston, Pressure Drop, That’s My Number, and Bla Bla Bla?  A lot more.  Ska has a huge following in Montreal, one of our other favorite cities, but only a small number of bands play ska in New Orleans (thanks, Local Skank, for keeping it real), so please, Toots, drop in anytime!  (We’re listening to That’s My Number, jaw thrusting to the beat and trying not to do the crazy-legged sitting dance, as we type this.  “Turn out ya left pocket!”).

Toots and the Maytals

 Bittersweet indie rock stuff by way of Los Angeles, with a cult following (more “you will take photos, won’t you?  🙂  Yes, we will:

Silversun Pickups

And the energy returns.  If you’ve seen Anders or Johnny Sansone play, you know what to expect:  musicians tempting cardiac events, playing like they have neither physical nor musical limitations (and as for the latter, they don’t).  Both create an uncomfortable bliss for the viewer, sort of like watching  a movie like Pulp Fiction–should I be laughing at this?  Should I be cheering wildly and pumping my fists as these guys nearly stroke out?  Well, fuck, what choice do they give us?

Anders Osborne and “Jumpin'” Johnny Sansone

It’s Metallica.  If you missed it, sorry–buy a ticket next time.  If you were there, you already know.  It’s not as though Metallica is going to show up and put on some horrible, pussified wanker show.  It ROCKED (Yes, yes, caps are juvenile and a strong sign of a failure to attain literacy, but we’re seeking strong emotion here.  Besides, we didn’t use them in any other place in the coverage).  If we were 20 years older (ok, maybe 30), we would have pissed our pants with happiness and screamed for the nurse to attend us when Voodoo did a late booking for Metallica, because a month prior, the schedule was hardly a metalhead’s delight.  Instead, we just tore out C1 and C4 head bangin’.  That’s how we roll.  Metallica:  Our gumbo is your gumbo, MFs.  Visit anytime.


Day 3: Sunday, October 28, 2012:

We were super excited to see punk revival bands on the Voodoo ticket and the best of the best was Stephie and the White Sox.  Huge punk attitude, great vocals and a great band.  Yes, there’s no dancing in the photo pit at Voodoo, but it was awfully tempting.  We couldn’t stop grinning for about an hour after this set and we can’t wait to see more of Stephie:

Stephie and the White Sox

Locally grown contemporary pop with a wildly enthusiastic lead male singer and a gorgeous female lead.  By way of New Orleans and Lafayette, we give you Royal Teeth:

Royal Teeth

We’re fascinated with guitar/drum duo rock bands–we love the White Stripes and Black Keys, and we now add Black Box Revelation to that group.  Stripped down, raw, rock and and roll, played by two guys who clearly know each other’s moves.  The name is slightly unfortunate, in our opinion, because it’s bound to draw immediate comparisons to the other black/white duos just named, but forget the comparisons and just listen.  Our favorite Belgian garage rock band’s live show completely eclipses their current recordings–you simply have to find them live.

Black Box Revelation

Another punk revival band from New Orleans, with a small but dedicated fan club on Facebook.  White men can jump, as you will surely see below and we can’t wait to see Sexdog, Stephie and the Whitesox, et al at Jimmy’s!


The Models is a New Orleans punk band from the ’70s and ’80s that has kept up a great name and a great look, but came right out and said it from the stage: “We sucked during rehearsal.” The Models (along with Sexdog) is part of the re-revival of New Orleans punk, recently helped along by Jimmy Anselmo, owner of Jimmy’s Music Club, who hosted a reunion party about a year ago and now is reopening the iconic club.

The Models

Vintage Trouble

Coheed and Cambria are an American rock band from Nyack, NY (population < 7K–yes, we also had to look it up), formed in 1995.  We had a chance to catch them briefly, and photographically worship Claudio Sanchez’s hair.  For your viewing pleasure:

Coheed and Cambria

Nothing we read or heard about Tomahawk before Voodoo could prepare us for their live set. “Voodoo Music Experience” (rather than “Voodoo Fest”) seems pretentious at times—few bands deliver—but we truly experienced Tomahawk. Their giddy fury drew so many photographers to the photo pit we had to stand in line for two songs, and then could only shoot for a song and a half. We still managed to get a full serving. Yum, yum, mic-meal!


It’s Nas.  We bring you the pictures.  You look at them.  Deal?


To be completely frank, dubstep isn’t our thing.  It’s interesting once in a while, and we certainly know people that are mad about it (Hi, Aleks!) but we aren’t devoted fans and really don’t know WTF we’re talking about in this genre.  Thus our first inclination to skip Skrillex, because despite his following, it wasn’t clear we’d get any good shots and it was madly crowded.  After deciding to cover him despite these concerns, we’re still not dubstep-o-philes, but have a new appreciation for the massive intensity of his shows.  We’ve seen some amazingly loud bands, with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Motorhead topping that list by a mile.  Remembering clutching our ear protection for dear life in Montreal as Jon Spencer’s band laid down volume that induced the security guards to “fly” beer cans, etc. in the sound pressure wave generated by the speaker stacks.  And Lemmy playing at ear-bleeding volume and then asking the crowd if they wanted it louder (internally:  “no, please”.  Crowd:  “fuck yeah!”  Oh no.).  Skrillex joins our elite club by generating bass pressure that literally left us unable to breathe in the photo pit.  Security already had us pushed way back from the stage to avoid the subs (and the fire…), but even at 20+ feet from the stage, panic attack-inducing sound pressure.  And Skrillex standing atop the table, in a glowing skeleton suit, cranking up the crowd.  Absolutely unforgettable. If you do like dubstep, you’d probably be one stupid f*ck to miss Skrillex’s live show.  But what do we know?


Jack White reappears at Voodoo Fest, this time as simply Jack instead of with the Raconteurs.  We could simply cut and paste our thoughts about the Metallica show here–it’s Jack White.  He always rocks, in any configuration.  This time was no different.  Have a look at the photos, recall, or lustfully regret not being at Voodoo, then head straight to his page, groupie-fy yourself, and catch him live.

Jack White

The complete gallery from Voodoo Fest 2012 is available here–click through the slideshow to reach the gallery link:

See you at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA!


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