Voodoo Day 1 Review

City Park

October 28, 2006

I'd like to get big-time gripes out the way. Where were the trash cans at Voodoo? Each time I crossed a field to use one it was overfilled. Also, is there anything we can do about the mud in the future? No? Okay, but can we at least get more lights out there at night? I should have thought ahead, but I wore pants cause it was cold and since I couldn't see my feet, I stepped right in a mud puddle. Yum.

All in all Voodoo was a big success this year. I had a magnificent time. City Park is easily the best place they've held the festival. It's hilly, mannered, quaint, and naturally seperated. I remember staring into the pond next to a huge oak while listening to Broken Social Scene and feeling calm. I couldn't have had that moment at Marconi Meadows or at the Fly.

The first band I saw Saturday was locals the Good Guys, a dark metal and lounge hybrid. Like Sinatra meets Mike Patton, accompanied by sexually overt lyrics that'll make you blush and giggle. I enjoyed them but for the first time realized that one of the reasons I like them so much is because their brand of weirdness is rare in New Orleans.

Next up were locals Mute Math. How have I not known of these guys before? They were so good. They're on Warner Bros. and currently touring the country. They played anthemic songs full of pop hooks and electro break-ins and breakdowns. They sounded like Police mixed with U2 but with a harder edge and an affinity for computer blips. They know their "Amnesiac."

Lead singer Paul Meany had a soaring, reggae-inflected Sting-like voice and a passion and energy that was inspiring. I believed every word. Veins threatened to pop out of his neck, and more than once he jumped slow-motion like off of the top of a Marshall stack. Meany played a keytar and a homemade electronic tube with no frets. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys were computer engineers on the side.

I got lunch afterwards. It was BBQ beef on a bun for $5. Rip off.

I thank my friend Erik Corriveaux for telling me to check out Brit Jamie Lidell next. Lidell was the day's dark horse riding up. Lidell was a one man band that used a homemade console to layer his vocals and trigger certain samples. At first Lidell seemed mild-mannered, but I should have known better considering his silver glitter pants. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and a towel around his neck the whole set.

Much of Lidell's music came from layering his vocals on top of each other. One vocal might be the rhythm, while the other was the melody, and the other was the real vocal. I've seen other performers stutter-step over looping technology, but Lidell recorded his parts with precision and confidence like he had done it a million times before. Once he had all the vocals layered, he improvised over them and took away and gave as he saw fit. I soon realized that, because of his improvisation, if I got his album it wouldn't live up to his performance.

Lidell's voice was amazing. He could beat-box effortlessly or belt out a soul number like he was black. He won over the crowd pretty quick with his talent and the obvious joy he took in his craft.

I saw Broken Social Scene at ACL in 2004, but I don't remember them being as good as they were Saturday, even if the ACL crowd was more welcoming. I love that BSS go for it every song. They reach for that soaring, epic musical epiphany every song, and they know the concept of climax well. They weren't as "indie" as even I remembered them. They were actually pretty accessible and classic rock-influenced, as much as band with horns and a violinist can be.

Next I moved over to the second stage to see Brazilian Girls, who I saw at SXSW in 2005. This time was much better. At SXSW they were being divas. The female lead singer, Sciubba, was being incendiary, while the male bassist threatened the sound man countless times. I'm not sure how Brazilian Girls have gotten lumped into the rock scene, but it's nice to have them, anyway. They're more dark electronic trance than rock. There are no guitars involved. Just synths, samples, live and pre-programmed drums and the afformentioned.

The mechanical yet colorful drumming, along with Sciubba's voice, anchored the band. Sciubba, who was wearing a skirt that showed off her legs, was the set's visual focus point. Her face was covered in a white cloth mask, and after one song she painted red lipstick over her lips. After another she took black and painted in eyes. It was creepy but weirdly (sexy?) at the same time. Freaks.

Then the day got slow. I started to take it easier and branch out to food and beer. The next group I saw was the Drive By Truckers. If only their music sounded a little bit darker, they'd be one of my favorite bands. The lyrics are already dark, and because they're such great storytellers, it's easy to forget that they can rock a song into the ground. This Alabama six piece loves their four to five minute songs. The main strength of the band will always be that they have three great songwriters and guitarists. I appreciated their rendition of "Louisiana," but it felt like a dead horse was being beaten. So many artists talked about the hurricane and how it was such an honor to play and that Bush was a bastard, blah, blah, blah. Thanks for the sentiment, but it's not fun to be reminded of the hurricane at every turn. I get enough of that every day, and I was looking for an escape at Voodoo. That's why I hate crappy songs like Cowboy Mouth's "The Avenue" that were written about the hurricane. Thank you, Cowboy Mouth, you saviors of New Orleans! What would we do without your trite, mediocre, and obvious commentary?! Pat yourselves on the back, because it's obvious you care about the city so much. That song reeks of opportunism. Look at all the people run out to buy Cowboy Mouth records because they want a piece of their sincerity. More money, more money! Excuse me if I don't buy into their "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" or "Hallelujah." I don't think the band's pow wow antics come from a sincere place. Cowboy Mouth are great showmen but nothing more than that. Their schmaltzy posing is lame and fake.

I saw a little bit of Blue October before I headed over to the Chili Peppers. I liked Blue October. I'm a sucker for U2 and Pearl Jam-influenced stadium rock.

I gotta say that the Chili Peppers were a disappointment. I don't own the new album, and they must have played at least eight songs from it. I was expecting more material from BSSM and earlier, but the best I got was "Me and My Friends," "BSSM," and a few others. You know what would have been awesome? "Behind the Sun." Anyway, the band was tight, and it was awesome hearing Frusciante and Flea's supreme musical talent, but all in all, it didn't seem like a special show for them. I remembered Frusciante was great, but I forgot how formidable a bass player Flea was until he flew into a solo. There is no question why these guys are so famous. They operate at a higher level than the rest. They're not just some funk band that got lucky. Frusciante is a beautiful artist and should be regarded as such.

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