Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Voodoo Experience Day 2

November 1, 2009

A visit to a city for a music festival is incomplete for me without a lot of walking and sightseeing. And getting lost. And seeing things at late night hours that probably most people don’t.

The day started off normal enough, with me taking the street car into downtown New Orleans to Canal Street, the obvious beginning of the tourist district. I had finally looked at a map and found where Bourbon Street was, and decided to walk down it. Not my idea of fun. Already at 2 pm, there were hordes of people stumbling about, being gawking tourists. Many were drunk. I prefer Royal Street, the next block over, filled with art galleries and antique stores and interesting window displays. Bourbon Street is filled with bars, what did I expect?

I continued walking down Royal straight through the French Quarter until I was in the Marigny, to check out a cafe called The Orange Couch I had seen open late on Thursday night. It looked out of place, the interior that I glimpsed post modern sleek in an area of old tightly clustered shotgun houses. I was not disappointed. The barista was from Zimbabwe, patrons sitting outside had British accents and seemed to be talking movie business, while inside was art on the walls and others studying and surfing the net. I had an espresso shake with Tin Roof ice cream. Yum.

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The Orange Couch Cafe

I asked the barista for directions on how to get from there to City Park, where Voodoo Experience takes place. “It’s a bit of a walk,” she noted. “Any further than walking all the way back to Canal and taking the street car from there?”I asked.  “Not really,” was the response. “Besides, if you take Esplanade, it’s shady!” So that’s what I did. A new street to explore!

Truth be told, the first walk was 2.3 miles, and the next walk was 3.5 miles, so it was further. I know that in Los Angeles I have to be careful when talking about walking distances with others, since hardly anyone walks, the perspective is skewed that all walking distances are too far, but I was surprised that New Orleans suffers from it too. It’s such a walk friendly place, and the very distinctive neighborhoods are close together, so it’s quickly varied.

I made it to City Park, and finally found a paper schedule, much more helpful than Friday when I had no idea who was playing when once I got there. There is definitely more art this year at the festival than last year, fun, interactive art. Like this one:

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I could hear Gogol Bordello playing when I walked in, but I realized that I had left my numerous pairs of earplugs back at the hotel and needed to take care of that first before going anywhere near a stage, particularly for a band that likes to play it loud. The good people at Toyota, besides giving me a free screenprinted festival poster, bandana and flashing LED dog tag for greater night time visibility, also gave me a pair of free earplugs. Thanks to the First Aid tent for telling me where to get this important schwag! I also had just missed Rotary Downs, a band I had hoped to hear live. Oh well, I had fun on my walk though, seeing a new neighborhood. I even saw a church for sale, with its adjoining rectory, and will give them a call to find out for how much. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to own their own church? I know I always have….

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Church for Sale: My Next Home?

I went and sat on the track in front of the stage where Jane’s Addiction was setting up to play, while listening to Wolfmother on the adjoining stage. Already I was getting cold, could feel a draft that would not go away creeping up my lower back. All layers on, I was still cold, even with a lack of rain this time. Then again, I wasn’t dancing like I had been the previous night. It all got better when the crowd came over to watch Jane, and I started warming up then. Russell and Mitchell introduced themselves to me, Russell a winner of free tickets from a local radio station, and happy to be there. He said he sat down near me because I had an air of calm about me, and he was coming down and needed that safety. There was a distinct physical empty area around me, for some unknown reason, as the crowds wanted to get closer to the stage in front of me, and I was at the edge of the paved track so it was probably squishy behind me. He was surprised I had come to the festival by myself, and all the way from LA.

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Jane's Addiction

Perry made comments about raising a toast to death, in honor of it being Halloween, and compared New Orleans to Jesus, since it refuses to die and rises from the dead. He was dressed as a superhero, and seemed to enjoy flouncing about the stage with a cape. They played songs I knew and didn’t know, as Russell was equally ignorant but enjoying himself, and finally I left, to go see Jello Biafra and George Clinton. (Two separate stages, not together!) I always forget I just don’t like Perry’s singing voice. I can only take a few songs. He seemed to be having fun though. Especially with the scantily clad females on stage (Man! They must have been freezing, as the wind blew their skirts up repeatedly.)

It also gave me an opportunity to see more of the art, especially the pieces designed for night viewing.

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I was inside the Preservation Hall Tent eating some Paneer Saag when a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller was re-enacted with zombie dancers. I was worried about how I would know when KISS took the stage, when I heard fireworks go off. They must be on stage then!

As for KISS Nation, since this wasn’t a KISS only show, I guess that explained the lack of solidarity I was expecting. Also, I wasn’t very close to the front of the stage, where I expect that ilk was. However, I did get a great show from a youngster, dressed as Gene Simmons, who was there with his not as impressively detailed costumed parents. And if I had any doubts about whether the costume was his idea or not, I watched him strum his guitar in unison with a solo, perfectly timed. Long live KISS, already full of fans in the current generation!

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Adoring Fan

At 10, I left, not for lack of interest in KISS, but I had other plans for the evening. It was time to head to St. Bernard Parish, to the Hi-Ho Lounge for Debauche, Happy Talk and Zydepunks. I missed Debauche, who apparently took the stage when I was leaving Voodoo. Debauche was who I wanted to see for their tag line under a flyer picture of heavily winter dressed Tsarist Russians complete with rifles was “Russian Mafia Band.” It made me intrigued.

I of course got lost on the way. There was a narrow body of water that I couldn’t cross, and then I started thinking about the fact I didn’t remember crossing any body of water to get to the Saturn Bar, just down the street from this bar, so perhaps I was too far over already. I was finding a familar street name every fifth street or so, which meant the diagonal I was used to down in Marigny had some additional filler streets in the area I was. Which direction did I need to go? What diagonal was I on? I found myself under a freeway, and saw a Lowe’s home supply store, so I knew I was near some major area. And I could see that McDonald’s I was pretty sure I had passed to the Saturn Bar Thursday night, but I just couldn’t get to it how I was going. As the area grew increasingly structurely barren, with an occasional house guarded by dogs, I finally got on a street that I knew ran parallel to one that intersected the street I wanted. When I finally popped out onto St. Claude, I was a mere two blocks from the address I was looking for!

When I got to the door, I asked who was up, and apologized for being late, and they were shocked I had walked all the way from City Park. Despite the detour and being turned around, I don’t think I still would have made even the last song of Debauche, if I had turned down the street I now see on a map would have gotten me there sooner. Sure, it was at least 4 miles of walking. Okay, so maybe a cab would have been better. But I got to see more of the city, the pretty and derelict neighborhoods in addition to the underutilized area under the freeway by that Lowe’s. Saw a house for sale for 50k, or best offer, for sale by owner. Since it is still posted, I’m guessing it could be had for less than 50k. And facing a small canal, so no neighbors across the street, just the kind of area I love. I was there on a street called Florida when I heard and turned around to see multiple fireworks go off. KISS must have finished their show, I figured.

The bands at the Hi-Ho were great, but I chose to get stuck near the bathrooms, what with that being the only easily protected place to stash my backpack with its poster sticking out. I changed my clothes in the readily available men’s room, took off my glasses and put on my mask, which elicited numerous conversations. I kept forgetting my proboscis was so long, and would frequently hit people with it. Fortunately, since it was latex, no harm to anyone was done. I did have to take it off to engage in conversations. That was an interesting evening, and resultant drunken conversations with very drunk men. One accused me of purposely standing there by the men’s room to solicit attention. No, just the beer kegs were a nice dry surface to put my bag on. Oh, the bands were lively and infectious and encouraged drinking. I could hear them just fine, even if I couldn’t see the whole stage.

And off to walk home, through the madness and mayhem of the Marigny and French Quarters, where the crowds just took over the streets, sometimes with the help of the police, but often not. I hadn’t drunk a drop, but felt drunk just trying to navigate the crowds and their unpredictable movements. I doubt a ballerina pirouetting through the crowd would have done much better. When I got to the area of Bourbon Street where the police had cars with bright lights flashing, I grew dizzy from the constant light/dark contrast! How do amazingly drunk people handle it? Even the police mounted horses I saw were nervous, twitching and flicking in distress.

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Bourbon Street for Halloween 2009

I loved the cars parked on the sidewalks, forcing the pedestrians onto the street, because there are clear signs in the French Quarter stating not to do that. But I guess Halloween is an exception, as I expect Mardi Gras and New Year’s are too.

I was right about how fun it would be to be in New Orleans for Halloween. The energy of everyone was enlivening, and made me forget my tired feet. I had a smile on my face on the walk home.

I took a slight detour on the way home, but at least I knew where I was, just running parallel on Magazine Street to St. Charles where my hotel is to see where the trendy shopping area started. Very close to where I am staying, apparently. I found an excellent looking burrito place, and will probably visit for lunch on Monday, my last day here. I am already scheduled for a bus tour of the city, deciding to be the traditional tourist on my last day, so I can see what I have left to explore on my next visit!

Time now to go attend the last day of Voodoo. The Pogues, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Meat Puppets and Flaming Lips are on my to-do today. No walking, only public transit this time to rest my poor feet (yes, even I can overdo walking, as it turns out yesterday was at least 13.7 miles of walking according to google maps). Perhaps I will see Brett from the Bronx again at the Flaming Lips, the band he mentioned he was here to see, the gentleman I met last night who gave me a hickey on my cheek while waiting for the restroom. Is he a gentleman if he bit my cheek? As he said, anything is possible in New Orleans.

Halloween Opportunities

October 31, 2009

These pictures were taken while I was in San Francisco.

Here’s one hardware store’s take on the festivities. Who says hardware stores can’t embrace the spirit too? By the way, this hardware store apparently was voted most popular by San Francisco residents. If the window displays are any indication, it certainly looks like a fun place to go and browse hardware stuff. Who says you can’t bring whimsy to anything, anything at all?

Cole's Hardware Store Gets into the Halloween Spirit

Cole's Hardware Store Flying with Halloween

And if pressed as to how to dress for Halloween, San Francisco residents have it easy. Any Giants fan wearing its team’s colors can not be accused of ignoring Halloween. Go orange and black!

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SF Giants Merchandise Store, always in the Halloween Spirit











And if that were not enough, here is a feature I stumbled across called Your Morning Adorable. This picture features Meerkats, always a crowd pleaser. How can you go wrong with Meerkats and a pumpkin? Of course it will be cute! Look at those savage beasts ripping pumpkin guts out! How cute!!!! Let’s not think what they would do if they got ahold of you flat on your back, defenseless to a horde of hungry meerkats….

Meerkats <3 Pumpkins

Have a Happy Halloween, filled with fun and guts, humor and horror!


October 30, 2009

I am presently in New Orleans for the Voodoo Experience. This year it happens during Halloween weekend, and I thought, what better place to be than in New Orleans for Halloween, a city that definitely never needs an excuse to dress up in costume, nor any reason at all to party.

And the headliner for Halloween? KISS, the penultimate dress up costumed band.

But already, last night, Thursday night, I have accomplished that which I came to this city for. I went to a dive bar where the drinks are so cheap, I couldn’t resist getting a few, staying well within my budget, and heard a band play I had accidentally thought I would get to see at their CD release party at a bar I had been to last year. Alas, I mis-read the schedule, but when I got into town, saw they were playing at The Saturn Bar, mere blocks from the place I had mistakenly thought I would see them. The band, I, Octopus, fits into my favorite genre of Post-Rock Instrumental, and were excellent. I even bought their CD and am now listening to them as I type this.

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I, Octopus

But the other two bands I saw before they played were excellent too. They were The AcropoLions and The Dives. I am sorry to say that I left as the fourth band took to playing, Sista Otis, but having only gotten a few hours of sleep in the previous 48 hour span with a 3 mile walk back to my hotel, I thought it best to leave. I know, against my policy of staying for all bands because you never know what new gem you will find, but I was really tired.

I say this is what I came to accomplish, and it is true. I got to rub shoulders with the locals, hear local bands, walk and breathe the local area, take lots of photos, have fun! And the total cost? $8 cover charge, $14.50 for the drinks, including tip, and $5 for the CD of the band I wanted to hear live. Plus I got to hear 2 and a half other bands in the bargain, and get hit on by a drunk person who I had no idea what language he was speaking. What a great night! Let’s forget about the Voodoo Fest ticket, plane fare, the hotel price and any meals I consume here, and just call it a bargain. As it is. A unique, once in a lifetime experience is always priceless, isn’t it? The Voodoo Experience and Halloween are just added bonuses.

And walking out of a drug store at 3 in the morning, with something to eat because I was starving, and having my glasses fog up because of the difference in humidity from air conditioned store to the outdoors at the end of October just made me laugh. Only growing up with winter time in upstate New York had me experience the fogging of the glasses before, and I just wasn’t expecting the humidity to still be so high here in the bayou, when it is nearly November.

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Condensation Due to Humidity in the Bayou

There is so much to enjoy about New Orleans, and even though I can’t enjoy its famous cuisine, being seafood heavy not amenable for a vegetarian, I get to enjoy it on my terms. I walk back, taking pictures of random things, scare the numerous cats out for strolls, get whistled and talked to by random males of all types, and avoid the lurching tourist drunks also returning home. This is a city full of life, full of decay, and is entirely exquisitely intoxicating in its contradictions. This is what I came to New Orleans to explore more, and can easily see myself coming back for years to come.

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Abandoned Church, Oozing Gothic Intrigue

Two More to Go

October 9, 2009

I am starting to mentally get ready for the remaining two music festivals on my plate for the year. And no, I did not go to rainy Austin City Limits of last weekend. Rain definitely seems to be the theme for the majority of music festivals I attended this year. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue! 

Next weekend (October 17 & 18) is Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco.

I will be volunteering there, which should be great, at a little two stage festival, no possibility of missing the bands. What a great place to get a volunteering gig! I still have to work out the details of getting to the festival once in SF via public transit (limited parking allowed on the island, which actually has a really cool and varied history involving visions as a transportation hub with airport/marina and realities as World’s Fair site and military installation), what is the actual address of where it is that I will be staying, and finally, making arrangements to get back to LA. That’s what the next week will consist of, making sure those details get handled. But I am definitely looking forward to the lineup. I am looking forward to hearing Murs, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Passion Pit again, Grizzly Bear again, Beirut, MSTRKRFT, The Decembrists yet again, Girl Talk always, and finally, The Flaming Lips. That’s about half the lineup, so I should be happy, no matter what. The other half are just bands I’m not familiar with yet. But I’m looking forward to it.

Fortunately, the festival that closes out the season has all its details handled, since I went to the same fest last year, and already know the lay of the land. I’m actually not as thrilled about the lineup, but bought the ticket to see two bands in particular, and to experience Halloween in New Orleans. I can’t think of a city more conducive to dressing up as a character and no one thinking a thing of it. (Besides Black Rock City.) Yes, I’m talking about VOODOO Experience, in beautiful NOLA. I have ticket, plane fare, hotel, and know where to go buy the three day pass to get around on the street cars. Just add meals and I am all set. In fact, I even get a paycheck before I leave, so I will have some spending money to take in the sights, say a swamp tour. Or the Botanical Gardens. Or actually visiting the Art Museum that the festival grounds sit next to.

The two bands I am eager to see? Kiss and Eminem. Yes, you read that right. Sure, I’ll enjoy The Knux, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, The Pogues, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Meat Puppets, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, MarchFourth Marching Band, The Flaming Lips again and whomever else I stumble across, but Eminem and Kiss were the bands that had me buy the extremely inexpensive 3 day pass. I am neither a Kiss nor an Eminem fan, not fan enough to ever buy a ticket to their own shows or even buy their albums, but Kiss on Halloween? In New Orleans? C’mon. I just expect it to be a very memorable experience, if only how colorful I expect the actual fans to be. And Eminem just makes me laugh, some of his song lyrics and even his persona. I actually own an album of each of these artists. But I’m not what I would call a fan. Really. Just curious enough to see their live shows, given the opportunity.

And, I come with plans for disguises. I wouldn’t call them costumes, just alterations of my existence. The first is I found one of my masks. I can’t wear it for very long, since it is latex and makes everything around it moist, and steams up my glasses. But here’s an old photo of me wearing it, actually taken on a Halloween years past.

The Long Beak Mask

The Long Beak Mask

Sorry for the crappy quality, it’s actually a scanned 35mm photograph, digitized. My old antique Japanese 35mm camera there, RIP.

I just went to Robinson’s Beautilities on Venice in Mar Vista, an LA landmark, and bought a wig. Long, black, straight hair. For some reason, I’ve never yearned to be a blonde, but a black-haired, green eyed woman has interested me. So now I have a mask, and a wig. I intend to dig out some old contacts I have, get my eyes used to them again, so I can ditch the fogging eyeglasses.

And what would be really cool would be to do this sort of simple makeup, and have that be the whole thing:

However, Fever Ray‘s Karin Dreijer Andersson has professional make up artists, and more importantly, someone else to do this to her, so I don’t think I’ll quite be able to manage it. But it would be awesome! Imagine walking anywhere in a city with that face.

So, as you can see, there is much to plan, the all important what to pack, and the actual what am I allowed to pack? What to wear, and what parts of a costume should I take with me?

And I’ve started hunting for things to do while in New Orleans, and one of the dive bar/off the beaten path venues I found is hosting a CD release party of a band that sounds interesting: I, Octopus. I hope to go check them out while there.

Voodoo Experience – The 10th Ritual and other news

April 16, 2009

Voodoo Experience tickets went on sale today, through Ticketmaster. (How do I know this? Because a little bird twittered it to me. As you can see, the website is not so useful in that department.) This year’s fest will be during the Halloween weekend. In New Orleans. Great excuse to play dress up. Daylight Savings time also ends that Sunday, so don’t forget to factor that in when arriving for your favorite band, and realizing it isn’t the time you thought it was. Oh, but what with our cell phones all talking to the satellites, constantly updating the time for the time zone you are in, and no one wearing watches or using alarm clocks other than their cell phones, that never would happen anymore, right?

The most awesome part of the tickets being on sale? There are no extra charges. You heard me right. It’s through Ticketmaster, but the ticket is an extremely reasonable and affordable $103 and nothing more (unless you add on some way of getting the tickets other than US Mail delivery). No additional Ticketmaster charges after the announced ticket price. 3 days of music, one very cheap ticket. And an excuse to party in New Orleans. During Halloween. A city that never needs an excuse to throw a party or play dress up, and whose drinking laws are a mystery to me, other than any time, any place seems to be de riguer. Come join the fun!

Also, tickets of San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival went on sale yesterday, but only if you happen to have a Visa card to charge it on. Otherwise, you have to wait until Sunday, April 19th at 10 am PST to get your chance to purchase. But I will be either eating breakfast or just getting in my car  to park, trek and get through security to see Mexican Institute of Sound playing at 12:45 at Coachella, thinks I. Coachella’s set lists are now up, yes indeedy! I had best get those tickets now, while I am thinking about it.  Though the currently listed eager beaver price of $199.50 is what is posted, this is classic Ticketmaster in action, and really, there is an additional $22.50 “convenience charge,” and a $4.50 “order processing fee,” for a grand total of $229.40 for a single ticket. Yay, Ticketmaster! Glad to know you’ve covered your salaries. Glad to know you have the extra cash to not be downsizing any time soon, right? Not so glad to have helped.

Let’s have Mexican Institute of Sound takes us out… Time to really be packing for Coachella, not merely thinking about packing. For me, a non-lyrics listener, singers in Spanish occur for me exactly the same as those in English – another instrument is playing to be listened to, nothing more. And with the demise of Indie 103.1 off the airwaves, and its replacement a more traditional Spanish speaking station (better match for the LA demographics,) tell me why is there no station in LA playing Spanish speaking dance music/alternatives like this? It’s fun, it’s infectious, it’s gotta beat!

Voodoo Fest

February 26, 2009

The big announcement is Voodoo Experience down in New Orleans will be held over the Halloween Weekend this year.

The Tenth Ritual - Voodoo Experience 2008

The Tenth Ritual - Voodoo Experience 2008

Guess that means Vegoose won’t be happening again, is my guess. Vegoose was a music festival that took place in Las Vegas as close to the Halloween Weekend as possible. A three stage festival, with celebrity impersonators, wedding chapel and encouragement to wear costumes, Vegas embraced music festival, done its way. It was organized by the same folk as do Bonnaroo, complete with the trademark ferris wheel, and did not take place this last year.

With Voodoo moving to Halloween, and costumes and parties already in the mindset of those who visit New Orleans as tourists, I think there will be no competition of where to go that weekend, for music fans. Kinda won’t even matter if the line up isn’t so great, what do you think, if everyone is already freely uninhibited and drunk, as the grown up version of Halloween really is an excuse for….