VOODOO 2011: A New Orleans Experience

“New Orleans.”  To mutter her name conjures up many thoughts and emotions. She is many things.

She is the place of friendly, flamboyant, blissful action.

She is her people — who work and play together — that fuel her spirit and perpetuate her mystery. 

New Orleans is food-a-plenty; her belly spills over with delicious delicacies of deliberately spicy delights. While her dishes are often imitated elsewhere, the true taste of New Orleans can be found in its quaint houses that have been converted to restaurants as well as in its roadside bistros. 

The people, the food, the atmosphere — yes, New Orleans is many things. But above all, New Orleans is music.

New Orleans rests in the clay silt of the Mississippi River, and genre-spanning grooves pierce the night, bouncing like a rhythmic heartbeat through the city. The city is the type of place that takes every opportunity to enjoy itself, and when the elements of people, food and music come together, celebrations abound.

NOLA is no stranger to the music festival. It can be argued that many of the nation’s most successful festivals have taken queue from a New Orleans recipe on how to cook up a good music-themed party. New Orleans’ own Voodoo Experience is no different.

Voodoo took a swatch from the large fabric of historic music festivals and created its own thing. Steve Rehage and organizers have managed to blend national headliners with local musical heroes in a cohesive harmony that has continued to please its fans since the festival’s 1999 inception.

With three full days on multiple stages, the scheduling of the festival during the last weekend of October leads to an unwritten undertone of Halloween mysticism.


Starting on Friday, The Experience had big shoes to fill based on the 2010 line up. It’s unfair to compare one year to another, since Voodoo’s momentum has revved stronger year after year. However, some naysayers claimed 2011’s lineup was more indicative of idling than pushing forward.

There were many special treats in store for the tricksters that descended upon the Voodoo Experience. Members of Morphine & Jeremy Lyons (consisting of Morphine member Jerome Deupree and co-founder Dana Colley) appeared on the Le Flambeau Preservation Hall Stage, and Ani Difranco played nearby on the stage sponsored by New Orleans’ all-star radio station, WWOZ.

With headliners such as sultry Band of Horses and electric My Chemical Romance, the festival had a magnificent kick-start to a wonderful weekend.

Soundgarden closed the first night, blasting off like a rocket ship during their marathon long set.


New Orleans was marked with comfortably cool and pleasant weather as it ushered in Saturday for the second day of the festival. The crowd seemed to be festive and happy as they welcomed New Orleans natives Soul Rebels and Treme Brass Bands to the stage. Any New Orleans festival would pretty much be incomplete without them.

Le Carnival: Bingo! Parlor, one of the smaller stages, saw record crowds on Saturday because of its lineup, especially during the showcase of New Orleans’ Bounce artists Vockah Redu and Cheeky Blakk.

In between all the music, many festival goers took breaks at the retro amusement park, situated in the space where a stage once stood. The enjoyment of fine cuisine took up the other spare times between performances.

Festival goers reveled to the sounds of Daedelus, Z-Trip and Girl Talk on the Red Bull-sponsored Le Plur Red Bulletin Stage, while others induced a crescendo frenzy at the Voodoo Stage where closers Mastodon, Snoop Dogg and Blink 182 performed.


“Time flies when you are having fun.”  That was the sentiment as Sunday rolled in. The Givers!, Dr. John, Fishbone and Cheap Trick all drew droves of festival goers to the smaller stages.

The Original Meters were also a huge attraction at the Le Flambeau WWOZ Stage, with Odd Future, TV on The Radio and The Raconteurs headlining the main stage and hence, closing out the festival.

The Voodoo Experience has a reputation for being a clean and well organized event, and this year’s festival seemed to go without a hitch — minus some of the negative actions of Odd Future, who physically took on a crew of photographers (dumping water on those in the photo pit and even punching one female photog), further cementing the outfit’s reputation.

By all accounts, the festival was once again, a resounding success.

In a place where you could find Soundgarden, Dumpstaphunk, Crawfish Nachos, Shrimp & Grits and carnival rides under the same roof, Voodoo continued to impress its followers maintaining an event curated for the festival connoisseur in search of something slightly different than the norm.

Its organizers remain committed to this ideal, and therefore, it should be quite the impressive to watch what the event strives for in the future.

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the festival by Andi Rice