Voodoo Fest 2013

Voodoo is one of our favorite festivals–and we hope it will continue to be–but logistical issues, some related to the new layout, really marred our experience and that of a number of other attendees that we spoke with this year.  The lineup was great and we caught several outstanding shows, but the musicians can only do so much, and the rest lies in the hands of the organizers.  We offer our criticism in the hopes that these issues can be addressed before Voodoo 2014, and that Voodoo can recapture its greatness.  Bad stuff out of the way first, then on to the good stuff and the reason we attend at all, the music:

  • The new layout caused horrible bleed between the stages–unless you stood right in front of a stage (and sometimes, not even then), you were blasted with overlapping sound stages, and the experience was far from pleasant.  Standing in line to get food, or hanging in the middle of the layout was like standing in the middle of a neighborhood street where every neighbor had her windows open, speakers pointed outward, blasting you with her music of the day.
  • The Le Plur stage is a mess.  While it’s true that dubstep and other electronica benefit from high volume, the entire festival shouldn’t be sacrificed to a single stage.  The art market tents and displays were literally shaking apart and it was impossible to have a conversation with the vendors.  Exacerbating this issue is some fundamental misunderstanding of acoustics–the bass from the Le Plur stage is unidirectional, and blankets the entire area, while high frequencies get filtered by obstructions. The result is a constant BWWWWWRR BWWWWWWWWWWRR BWWWWWWWWR out of line of sight with the stage, and its not dance-inducing (no, we didn’t dance a single time to the BWWWR-madness, though in fairness, we saw some try). So, not danceable, but very Excedrin-able. We talked to dozens (hundreds?) of people who were complaining about this.  Seriously–turn the volume down on this stage.
  • The new photo pit policies are, in our opinion, a bit odd.  High ISO Music has covered Voodoo Festival in detail for years, and yet we were denied access to the main stage’s photo pit.  The same thing happened to a number of other photographers who had covered Voodoo extensively in the past.  It’s not all about us, and we realize that with limited space, not every venue will get to cover every festival (of course, we do usually get approved when we ask).  But seeing “photographers” with full access to the main stage, shooting with a point-and-shoot camera or an iPAD stretches credibility.  Seriously, what is anyone going to get out of that?   A related issue is that many venues, ours included, which offer extremely detailed photographic coverage of festivals don’t use “stock” shots provided by the festival–for reasons of our own.  The point here is that hey, it’s less photo editing for us–but you, our readers, lose out, because there just aren’t going to be any shots of the headliners in our coverage, because we weren’t allowed to shoot them.

But of course there’s still a lot of awesome to report.  We caught the Nine Inch Nails and Cure shows as spectators, cameras stowed.  What’s to say?  Trent Reznor’s stage show, vocals, the audio, all razor sharp–one of the tightest shows we’ve seen in a long time. The Cure sounded exactly like they always have–close your eyes, and you’re listening to a Cure’s greatest hits album.  Open them, and Robert Smith has aged, but miraculously, his voice hasn’t.  Speaking of hits, where are the bad Cure songs?  Like Prince, Robert Smith seems to have a magic chest full of hits and aside from a very early recording of  a cover of Foxy Lady, not a single bad Cure song comes to mind.  That’s legacy, folks.

More on our favorite acts below:

Those Darlins is a mostly all-girl (they lost the female bass player sometime back) garage and country-infused rock and roll band from Nashville that we really enjoyed, who’ve toured with the Black Keys.  Check ’em out and note that their music is available via their own record label, Oh Wow Dang Records.

 

Those Darlins at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

Those Darlins at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Those Darlins at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

Those Darlins at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

We weren’t familiar with Allen Stone, but the “hype” about his voice and his potential role as the savior of soul were spreading at the festival, and so we caught his act with some skepticism tight in hand, which…he completely obliterated, the moment he stepped on stage.  Amazing energy (can we have some?), an incredible voice, and a stage presence like, well, he might as well just move on stage, he’s so comfortable performing.  This is a guy to watch:

 

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

Allen Stone at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 1. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Another unfamiliar band that now tops our favorites: He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, from Los Angeles, CA.  The brother and sister are Rachel and Rob Kolar (vocals and guitar, respectively), backed by Lauren Brown, the only tap dancing drummer we can recall seeing recently, and Oliver Newell on bass, and Ryan Richter on slide guitar.

 

He's My Brother, She's My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

He's My Brother, She's My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

He's My Brother, She's My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 2. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Ruby Amanfu, a Grammy Award-winning vocalist and songwriter who frequently plays with Jack White (another High ISO Music favorite), is a photojournalist’s (and live music lover’s) dream.  Crank her up on Spotify and we’ll fill in the rest of the details, visually, below.  A thousand looks, every one of them loaded with heart-melting buckshot (and shutter melting; with the greatest reluctance, we, and our 300mm, departed after 3 songs, with only a little nudging from security).

 

Ruby Amanfu at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

Ruby Amanfu at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Ruby Amanfu at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

Ruby Amanfu at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

We certainly don’t like to beat on Dr. John (and don’t worry, for the Voodoo 2013 show, we won’t be), but his show at Jazz Fest 2013 was very disappointing.  The crowd at Jazz Fest showed up to see the Night Tripper, and well, he just wasn’t there.  Dr. John made some changes between Jazz Fest and his Voodoo 2013 performance, and the Night Tripper has re-entered the building.  Backed by an all-star lineup, including Nicholas Payton, George Porter, Jr., Dr. John’s show at Jazz Fest was just jaw-droppingly fantastic. Still listening to it in our heads, in fact.

Dr. John at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

Dr. John at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

 

Dr. John at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

Dr. John at Voodoo Fest 2013 in New Orleans, LA on Day 3. (HIGH ISO Music)

See you at Voodoo Fest 2014, at a safe distance from Le Plur.

 

 

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