by Alex Melnick
arts & life editor
After finishing the Voodoo Experience roughly around 4 in the morning on Nov. 4, I stumbled into my dorm room, barely avoiding passing out from exhaustion on the floor. I turned to my friend who went with me and croaked out: “Was it worth it?” We just grinned at each other. Six hours of driving, several attempts to call a taxi cab in MidCity, New Orleans, and a few nervous breakdowns later, we were home and honestly sure of only one thing: (which was incredibly impressive since we were not even sure of our own names at that point) The Voodoo Experience in New Orleans City Park was worth it.
The Voodoo Experience, for those who have not read previous installments of the Purple & White, is a music festival that takes place in New Orleans during Halloween weekend. It is a crazy kaleidoscope of costumes and fair rides that probably shouldn’t be legal but is anyway, alongside the debauchery of Bourbon Street and the sheer exuberance of the performers on tap. Whenever one goes to New Orleans, it feels like a party, and Voodoo is no exception.
After what seemed like an endless car ride, we finally arrived to Voodoo. My friend and I awkwardly changed into our costumes in his car in the “parking lot,” which was really an empty field that a nice woman warned would soon be beset by towing trucks (You were wrong, lady.). We power-walked to the crowded City Park entrance. My costume is not pictured in this article because for all three days it was various renditions of “journalist who is cold and very upset by it.”
Voodoo featured a lot of cool artwork, and tasty fair food, but of course the real attraction was the music. Since we had arrived late, we were only able to see three bands: Slayer, the Melvins and Outkast.
Despite the fact that I will probably never be able to distinguish a Slayer song on my own, the thrash metal show was exciting. I spent most of it alternatively staring at Tomas Diaz’s amazing beard, and thinking about metal’s performance of masculinity, and being honestly enthralled by the excellent musicianship and crazy pipes on these old guys. My friend spent most of his time in the pit getting the wind knocked out of him. I think he had a good time too.
After Slayer, I needed to take a laydown. I am not a woman of refined tastes, and so I wanted to do nothing more than take a laydown listening to the Melvins. I regretted nothing, but the drunken horde of people stumbling away from the grungy punk band, apparently did. Most of the crowd left when they started playing. No matter, I pressed on and am happy to report that lead singer Buzz Osborne is just as terrifying and disquieting as he was when the band started in 1983, and that you still want to take a shower after listening to the Melvin’s droning punk/metal hybrid songs. I’m confused what demographic Voodoo was targeting by booking EDM acts on the same bill as bands like the Melvins and Slayer, but I’m really pleased they did
Andre 3000’s jacket for the festival read “I have nothing else to say,” and I agree. I saw Outkast. They opened with “B.O.B.” It was awesome. I have nothing else to say, other than that I wish Andre 3000 and Big Boi invited me on stage to shake it like a polaroid picture, the way they invited several audience members throughout the show. Alas, the crowd was huge and there was no way I could catch Big Boi’s attention. At some point, as we watched some naked women dance on stage during “GhettoMusick,” my friend leaned over and whispered, “ I feel like that guy over there,” indicating an awkward VIP pass holder who had strayed too close to the stage and was now weirdly dancing at the edge. We were that guy. And he was us. And by that I mean I realized that most people only know two or three Outkast songs, and that as soon as those songs have been played, everything is kind of awkward.
My friend and I made the executive decision to not attend Voodoo on Saturday, because we wanted to explore New Orleans together. We triumphantly returned to Voodoo Sunday afternoon, and by “triumphantly,” I mean whimpering, sore, covered in new bruises and kinda smelly. It’s okay through—we really fit in with the rest of the crowd, who were also fading fast and toddling from stage to stage holding their backs with their costumes all but in shreds.
I’m stuck at the emotional age of 14, so I still think Gogol Bordello’s world traveling nomadic punk aesthetic is cool. This band was a favorite at the festival, and without a doubt my favorite part of its set was when lead singer Eugene Hutz ripped off his shirt and poured a bottle of wine all over the audience. The crowd had such a friendly vibe, and it was a dream come true to hear everyone chanting the off-kilter drinking chants the college would prefer us not to publish. It rallied my spirits for what came next: A three-hour Foo Fighters set. (Dave Grohl, you are not human.)
Foo Fighters set was everlong (I made this pun approximately 100 times during the set.) but , it was worth it. It’s not every day you get to see the Foo Fighters in the flesh, even if there was about a mile separating us from the stage. The Foo Fighters really remind me of my family and my early adolescence, so the entire show had a homey feeling and was full of insane moments—like the band covering David Bowie’s and Queen’s “Under Pressure,” and that final, magical moment where the band ended the set with “Everlong,” and the crowd went wild.
I stood for longer in my life than I ever have before this weekend. It was worth it. Voodoo 2015, anybody?