Voodoo Music Experience
October 29, 2005
PHOTOS BY GRISSEL GIULIANO
Check out the stand-alone reviews of The Bravery, Death From Above 1979, and Queens of The Stone Age. Here's a retrospective on the rest of the bands I caught:
MORNING 40 FEDERATION
I'm starting to think Morning 40 Federation is the ultimate party band for New Orleans. I didn't have to stay long(15 minutes) at their Voodoo set to see they had the crowd under arrest. Bodies shaking and heads flung to the sound of Morning 40's sleazy, rock mania. In their music the Forties have captured something primal, just like Quintron, and that's probably why so many like both. Rock out or sip beer on the stoop. What's the difference?
OH, GHOST, WE'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE
I'm past trying to figure out why people like local rap/rock band Ghost. The best that can be said for Ghost is that the musicians who back the three rappers are capable and, in the guitarist's case, gifted. But, it was clear the musicians weren't into it. The bassist, a stowaway from a death metal band, performed passion-less jump splits, like he was thinking, "I've gotta keep this looking exciting for the crowd." Onto the rhyming. It's mediocre(that's the compliment) before the choruses materialize, and it's not so much that the lyrical subject matter is banal. It's more that the rappers aren't convincing. Runnin' around the stage all overweight and winded? Who cares? At least the guy named Rooster doesn't have red hair any more. Stay away, people. Ghost, give it up.
THE SECRET MACHINES
I was happily surprised by these neo-psych indie rockers from Dallas. Never heard of them before, but did they ever rock! It was epic. Bonham drums+swirling electronics+Eno guitars+Mercury Rev+The Flaming Lips. Download them. Look out for them.
NEW YORK DOLLS
I really can't believe I missed The Stooges at 2003's Voodoo, but at least I caught the New York Dolls this year. It was fun, no-nonsense, gruff stuff. Piano-driven, bomastic, old-fashioned, "I'll rip your balls off" type rock. I wish bands were still threatening like this. The New York Dolls make me wish the old guard won't have to disappear. David Johannsen's face is just as leathery as Iggy Pop's.
NINE INCH NAILS
I wish I was a big Nine Inch Nails fan. I would have thought their Voodoo set was one of the best things, I bet. From the first note of "Head Like a Hole," lead singer/guitarist Trent Reznor and the rest of the band never let up. The light show was spectacular, and the sheer amount of darkness on stage at many points was creepy. Everything about the show was calculated. Nothing was left to chance. Three fast songs, a couple slow ones, then some more fast ones. Very orchestrated. The precision of his surroundings and band allowed Trent to focus hard. He gripped the mic with purpose, dragged it around, and slammed it down. Whaddaya know? There was a guy in front of the stage ready to set it upright. Reznor screamed hard and hit every cue and note. The music was too dark and slow to keep my attention at points, but let me say this: no matter what you think about NIN's music, if you were there, you know the band put on a highly enjoyable show. Some highlights were "March of the Pigs," "Closer," "Terrible Lie," and "Hurt."
I like NIN, but the best part of the concert, for me, was when poet Saul Williams walked onstage and started reading spoken word poetry over the band's music. Wow. That's a combination I would never have thought of. But, why not? Saul Williams is, if not the best, the most popular slam poet in America, so who better to be in New Orleans and talk about the hurricane after the fact? I wish I had a tape or a transcript of what he said. It was awesome, soul-stirring stuff. I recognized at least some of it as subjective truth.