Voodoo Experience Day 3

I can be lame at times, I know. So of course I didn’t manage to get out of the hotel until late on Sunday, as usual, missing The Pogues. I did get to see the end of Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they were all I hoped for: upbeat, peppy, playing mostly songs I knew, and playing to a full, appreciative tent.

And just as a side note, that very drunk Brett guy I met the night before? Sure enough, he was on the same street car to the festival as I, sitting with someone who may have been his girlfriend. Considering I was in line to get on the car, then stepped away for five minutes to grab something to eat, then got back in line a stop back and saw two other cars had already left the next stop up in that time, the chances of our being on that same car at the same time were amazingly slim. And despite trying to ignore him, darn it if he didn’t stop and take photos exactly where I was stopping and taking photos on the way in, thus proving we had something in common. As much as I wanted to say something to him acknowledging the previous night, I refrained, probably out of consideration of the woman with him. If I believed in a higher power, it’s incidents like this that let me know, that higher power has a wicked sense of humor, not appreciated much by us mere mortals.

I felt hungover until I got to the festival and started drinking some water, probably why it took me so long to get there. But since I hadn’t drunk previously, it turned out to be mere dehydration, and once I consumed a liter of water, I felt much better. But I also seem to be coming down with a cold at this point, so I was cold before the sun even set.

This is what I know: music festivals for me aren’t much fun if I’m uncomfortable. That could be I’m too cold, too hot, too tired, too exhausted, have a headache, I’m hungry, my feet hurt, or I really need to pee. Or even, I’m just not in the mood for music that day. Good things to know about myself, but chances are on a three day festival, that at least part of a day I will just not be that into it. Yesterday was one such day. I try hard to circumvent it, by bringing extra and warm clothes, water bottle, earplugs, hat, everything I can think of to take care of my well-being throughout an entire day. But sometimes it just isn’t enough. Especially when battling a drippy nose in addition.

One thing I really enjoy about large music festivals is there almost always is a regional acts tent or stage. These are usually local bands with a huge following, or up and coming bands that deserve a listen, or some such. It helps if you really like the sound of that particular region. That was the Preservation Hall tent at this festival. And although the music was lively, I just didn’t spend a lot of time there. There is only so much brass and drums I can take. For me, it would be like going to a bluegrass only tent. I appreciate the musicians and the music they make, it just isn’t my taste. I can listen to a song or two, but then I want to go listen to something else. I just like a really good, strong, smooth, full, in-tune vocalist too much for me to really like some bands.

And Sunday’s lineup also wasn’t the high point; again, for my personal tastes. I knew I would enjoy the Flaming Lips, but somehow I was surprised that they were not the final act. Lenny Kravitz closed the show over at those stages. It was fun to watch the Flaming Lips and their spectacle with balloons and confetti, and know that I would not be involved with the clean up. With less wind than on Treasure Island, the confetti drifted long and loftily before slowly descending everywhere. Besides, the confetti was landing mainly on the track in front of this stage, making it an easier clean up job than Treasure Island had been. And the Flaming Lips fans are rabid. It’s all about having a party together, with the balloons, lights, dancing costumed people on stage, random naked woman embracing Wayne, confetti, balloons, oh, and music! But when Wayne went into the same patter to introduce a song I had heard at their last show, I was disappointed. I wanted him to say something new, some sentiment I hadn’t heard before. I decided it was time to give my nice viewing space to someone more committed than I.

As I walked back along the track to the other stage, I found the perfect viewing spot: right in front of the other stage’s screen, where I could get super close and had an unobstructed view with plenty of space around me and no one walking through my picture frame. Others had the same idea, and spent their time swivelling their heads between the video screen and peering to see what else was happening on the real stage behind them.

Trombone Shorty and the Orleans Avenue were really making the crowd dance over on the SoCo stage, and I spent some time over there enjoying their music before the Meat Puppets started playing. See, I can enjoy New Orleans type music! They were just having a ball up there, and it was infectious fun.

When I walked into the tent where the Meat Puppets were playing, I had to check my schedule again, thinking this was not the sound I was expecting. It was slower, ballady, almost country. It was good, after I adjusted, but not what I thought the Meat Puppets were. After a few songs, they tore into a song that sounded more like what I remembered hearing on college radio stations, and the audience responded appropriately, all people my age or so. Part of my interest in seeing them was this: back in the 1980s when I remember hearing them for the first time, they were too loud, too obnoxious for my tastes then. Just like the Clash used to be for me, and Gang of Four, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry all once were to my ears. So I wanted to hear them to see if my tastes had changed for them too. But instead, their own tastes had changed over the years. Good for them, I think. Continue to grow and expand. They are not those same people anymore, as we the fans no longer are. Kind of like John Doe of X fame has, with his new band The Sadies. Totally different music direction, but still good music. Good musicians don’t die, they just change their sound.

I went back to Trombone Shorty, where I actually found a tree root high enough to sit on. Ahh, that was nice. I stayed until they closed the set, and then found a set of bleachers within hearing distance (and some visibility) of where Lenny Kravitz was to play.

I knew why MY feet were tired (something to do with walking too much the day before), but why was everyone else? I always wish festivals had more seating areas. Random seats that could withstand the weather that you can just plop on when at the stage you want, with other random cushions waiting at the next stage area. It was definitely Sunday, as I picked my way through blankets and unconcious bodies waiting for the bands to play. And when the bands did play, often people didn’t stand. That’s a clear sign of a Sunday at a festival.

A lot of people left after The Flaming Lips. I made my rounds one more time, listening to Robert Randolph and the Family Band, visiting what remaining local non-profit group tables there were still around, seeing some new vendors that hadn’t been in evidence previous days and saw some more different art on the way out. The mobile dj set up on a shopping cart, complete with lights and his own fog machine, always drew a crowd no matter where he was, and people on their way elsewhere would stop to boogie until a song they liked was over.

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Shopping Cart Discotheque

And then it was just time to leave. Nothing was holding me there, and I still had a chance of seeing some other bands at a downtown club, where it would be warm and I could find someplace to sit, which just sounded really nice at the time, and it was time to say goodbye to Voodoo 2009.

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Goodbye Voodoo!

From my comments, you might think that I didn’t enjoy myself. Taken as a whole, as an excuse to explore New Orleans, plus Halloween, plus Voodoo, I had an excellent time, did and saw and heard things that I am really glad I did, and would do it again. Maybe staying at a hotel closer to the venues I actually frequent would be helpful next time around, as I seem to spend most of my time on the other side of Canal Street from where I am staying. That would definitely save me time walking when it is late, giving me more time to enjoy other attractions. I still haven’t made it to Algiers, or the waterfront, or numerous other touristy places. And since it is nearly time to check out this morning, it looks like it may take yet another trip to New Orleans to get the basic tourist visit done.

Aw shucks, I’ll just have to come back!

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Iconic New Orleans

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