2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

10:09 October 26, 2016
By: Staff

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Friday, Oct. 28


Le Plur Stage, 12:00-1:15 p.m.

South Louisiana duo Babygirl makes dance music, but their songs would be more appropriate for an underground Chicago house club than Electric Daisy Carnival. Bouffant Bouffant and Johnny V make music that draws on regional dance genres and trends of the past, while still packing enough thump to move today’s crowds. If you’re looking to flash back to a sweaty, not-quite-legal rave in your past, Babygirl has got you covered.


Active Bird Community

South Course Stage, 12:45-1:30

These Brooklyn sweethearts are indie to the core, making sweet, catchy pop tunes on a shoestring budget. Frontman Tom D’Agostino has one of those unassuming, pleasant voices that seems effortless ... until he launches into a pure, crystalline falsetto, like on “Pick Me Apart,” their single from this year. The song comes with a video clip that captures the group’s whimsy and nostalgia perfectly. Their album Pregame is available on Soundcloud.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

The Breton Sound

Pepsi Stage, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

The Breton Sound was a highlight of this year’s Jazz Fest, and has been a staple around New Orleans since 2010. They rock out unabashedly on record, with stacked-up guitar overdubs and vocal harmonies colliding over a rock-solid rhythm section. Their live show is no different, as guitarist Stephen Turner, formerly a member of prog-rock group Epic, gets a chance to demonstrate his chops on extended, wailing solos. It’s a breath of unironic fresh air.


Sonny Alven

Le Plur Stage, 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Norwegian wiz kid Sonny Alven is a standout from the Scandinavian electronic music scene. He earned his stripes after being tapped for official remixes for established dance juggernauts like Nause and Alesso. Alven’s style is sunny, tropical and ecstatic, a bold counterpoint to the sinister sounds dominating American EDM, and his live sets are transcendent. His remix of Tove Lo’s “Time Bomb” dropped in August and is a great introduction to Alven’s production.


Bear Hands

Altar Stage, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Brooklyn’s Bear Hands were college buddies with MGMT and have toured with them since, but their sound isn’t that similar at all. Bear Hands’ music is less painstakingly crafted and, despite being admirably executed, manages to feel a little more tossed off than MGMT’s, and consequently, a bit more fun. This year’s You’ll Pay For This showcases the group’s sense of humor and psychedelia in equal measure.


Cheat Codes

Le Plur Stage, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

Cheat Codes’ name could very well be a double entendre. The Los Angeles electronic band make hedonistic, genre-hopping dance floor fillers, and they aren’t bashful about it. Their biggest single so far is this year’s aptly titled “Sex,” featuring Kriss Kross Amsterdam, which samples Salt n’ Pepa. Be prepared to get down and leave the kids at home.



South Course Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Fat Possum Records started off by releasing unknown Mississippi blues recordings, but has since started signing throwback rock and roll acts. Among them is the scrappy Shreveport quartet Seratones, who churn out tight, concise gems with a garage-rock sound that can’t hide the soulful prowess of the instrumentalists. Singer A.J. Haynes’ gospel-trained vocals hold the whole thing together. Seratones’ debut album Get Gone is available now.



Pepsi Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Nathan Feuerstein has quietly built up a fan base in the still-developing Christian rap scene, self-releasing under his own name before switching to his initials for his Capitol CMG debut Mansion and follow-up Therapy Session, both of which topped the US Christian Music charts. Therapy Session also debuted at number one on the rap charts, an impressive feat demonstrating that spiritual hip hop can have an impact on the culture at large.


Lost Kings

Le Plur Stage, 3:30-4:15 p.m.

Rob and Nick of Lost Kings are signed to Sony’s Disruptor Management, recently responsible for launching the Chainsmokers assault on the Top 40, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Lost Kings were the next EDM act to cross over. They first caught buzz for their prog-house remixes, but have since carved out a lane making groovy modern disco tunes, like “Bad,” which features a fantastic vocal from Jessame.



Altar Stage, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Originally formed in New Orleans, Mutemath is an alternative rock band infamous for utilizing vintage instruments and amplifiers in their explosive, psychedelic pop sound. Lead singer Paul Meany will often play a keytar while jumping around onstage. Since its conception in 2003, the band has released four studio albums, the latter three all reaching the Top 10 in U.S. Rock and Alternative charts.



Le Plur Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Lunice Fermin Pierre II is a hip hop/dance music polymath, whose origins as a breakdancer are apparent in the innovative, syncopated rhythms of his beats. Now working as a DJ and producer, Lunice has had perhaps his greatest success as half of TNGHT, his duo with Hudson Mohawke. The pair co-produced Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves” and have been credited with shaping the sound of the now-pervasive trap genre.


Mayer Hawthorne

Pepsi Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Andrew Mayer Cohen is perhaps the preeminent practitioner of retro blue-eyed soul in America. The producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist may wear many hats offstage. But when performing, the shift focuses to his voice--a supple, nostalgia-inducing instrument, and his songs--well-crafted R&B numbers that call to mind Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and highlight his ace backing band.



South Course Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimbley were making tightly constructed, self-produced computer pop before it was cool, and their efforts in refining their sound caught the ear of Beyoncé, who included the Polachek-penned “No Angel” on her self-titled 2014 blockbuster. This January saw the release of their newest album, Moth.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


Altar Stage, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Known for their energetic stage presence and dynamic post-punk sound, Foals have defined themselves as one of the best live acts in the UK. Originally from Oxford, England, the group is internationally known, with their debut album peaking at number three in the UK pop charts, and their third record reaching the U.S. and Australian billboards.



Le Plur Stage, 5:45-6:45 p.m.

Los Angeles’ Slander is a collaboration between producer/DJs Derek Anderson and Scott Land, who have coined the term “heaven trap” to describe their music. The invented genre sounds like what you might imagine: ethereal, musically complex compositions with joyful, soaring chord progressions and ecstatic percussion, setting them apart from the crude simplicity of many other trap producers. Voodoo is their first stop back in America after a tour through Thailand, Australia, and other parts unknown.


Wild Belle

South Course Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Chicago’s Eliot and Natalie Bergman (siblings, not spouses) came together to form Wild Belle while both performing with an Afrobeat group. Originally a side project, Wild Belle grew into its own beast. The pair’s eclectic, globe-hopping style earned them a spot on similarly-minded Major Lazer’s Peace Is The Mission, and their album Isles was so named because each song resembles its own island.


Tory Lanez

Pepsi Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

One of many artists blurring the line between rap and R&B, Tory Lanez has found his own lane (if you will) by crafting songs that showcase his pristine, practiced croon, without betraying his allegiance to the streets of his native Toronto. He first hit the singles charts with the smooth slow-jam “Say It,” and his current smash, the dancehall-inflected “Luv,” is in heavy rotation on radio.


What So Not

Le Plur Stage, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Following a split with fellow Aussie producer Flume, Emoh Instead (a.k.a. Chris Emerson) turned What So Not into a solo project. He’s since collaborated with Bauer and George Maple on the beat for rapper Tkay Maidza’s “Ghost,” and released his Divide & Conquer EP in August of this year. Both are great examples of his shuddering, off-kilter sampling and deft keyboard work.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


Altar Stage, 7:30-8:45 p.m.

G-Eazy is a rapper from Oakland, California, who attended college in New Orleans at Loyola University. After college, he moved back to California, where he carved his niche in the Bay Area rap scene. In 2012 he released his first full-length album, Must Be Nice, which topped out at number three in the iTunes hip hop album chart. Since then, he has worked with countless figureheads in music, including Lil Wayne and Britney Spears, and released two more successful albums.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Porter Robinson

Le Plur Stage, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

A superhuman work ethic and an ear for unorthodox sonics have made Porter Robinson one of the biggest names in EDM. He caught the attention of Skrillex early on, releasing an EP as one of the first artists on the now-ubiquitous OWSLA label, and has dropped a pristine and consistent string of bangers ever since. He has recently begun working on new material for a follow-up to his debut Worlds.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Kevin Gates

Pepsi Stage, 8:45-9:45 p.m.

Baton Rouge’s Kevin Gates is among the most dynamic, lyrical, and confounding artists currently operating in Southern rap. Gates’ voice is among his biggest assets; he can be gravelly and menacing and achingly heartfelt within the same song. Rarely has a rapper been so well-equipped to handle his own hooks. His lyrics are equally diverse, with vivid narratives of street violence juxtaposed against references to Nicholas Sparks. His debut Islah went Platinum.



South Course Stage, 8:45-9:45 p.m.

Reignwolf, born Jordan Cook in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, serves up overdriven, amp-frying, shredding and passionate Jack White-esque vocals. It’s a crapshoot to predict whether he’ll perform as a one-man band, accompanying himself on a kick drum, or with his rhythm section, bassist David Rapaport and drummer Joseph Braley. Eiither way, Reignwolf’s live show is an electrifying blues-rock spectacle.



Le Plur Stage, 9:45-11:00 p.m.

A favorite at festivals for his punishing drops and artful drum programming, DJ and producer Carnage has been a powerful force in pushing forward the merger between dance music and Southern rap. Born in Guatemala, he honed his craft in California before finding his current sound, which pairs the beat-driven structure of EDM with vocals from A-list rappers like Rick Ross, Migos, and A$AP Ferg.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

The Weeknd

Altar Stage, 9:45-11:00 p.m.

At the age of 26, The Weeknd, or more appropriately, Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye, has accomplished things most people will never get to experience. To put it mildly, The Weekend has come a long way since breaking into the scene in 2011 with a series of mixtapes that would eventually be a compilation referred to as The Trilogy (House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence being the mixtapes).

Named after leaving school on a Friday and never returning, Tesfaye has managed to bring himself to a high level of notoriety while also maintaining his brilliant level of output. Starting with his early records, he’s delved slowly, sensually into a precarious position in modern hip hop, if you’d call it that. His music is as slow and sexually confident as Sade or other R&B artists, but he still maintains solid street cred among his peers. He’s easier to get into than Kanye, while staying leaps and bounds above other artists in the wide-ranging genre. Straight up, The Weeknd is the modern day get-down-make-love music that people everywhere have been hoping for, and that’s no easy feat.

Early tracks such as “House of Ballons/Glass Table Girls” from The Trilogy catches the ear of the listener with music that’s upbeat yet dark and throbbing, in the way you want dirty club music to be. From an early entry into the game, you get the impression that the man behind the infamous hair and the silky smooth voice had a very clear idea of what his goals were. The Trilogy is dense and quite formidable in terms of a listening experience. Even on his early recordings, the songs meander and go in directions you never expect. That, and the fact that the songs are all quite lengthy, make it difficult to jump right in. But after you get used to it, you find yourself excited to hear the next mystery unfold for your listening pleasure.

Like any indie musician, The Weeknd wanted his music to be heard, so early records/mixtapes were released for free. And then, obviously, we know where that road led. I mean, his first tour date was at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which can make or break any buzz you have based on the performance. Thankfully, the reviews were mostly positive and The Weeknd could keep on unfolding. His music reminds me of a wild mix between modern hip hop, dark pop and even hints of moderate industrial synth pop, which enables you to never be let down nor aware of what the next track will sound like.

By the time the mixtapes were a clear success, he had already gained more traction for his unique brand of sexually tense music than most independent artists do their entire career. Moving on from the indie circuit though, Tesfaye broke into “Big Record Land” with his official debut studio album Kiss Land. Another big success for the man behind the stage name, the record managed to bring in more influences than previously, while still maintaining the overall aesthetic of his work as The Weeknd. I mean, how many artists in the hip hop genre think to use a sample from Portishead as a background for their own song? Even further, how many can do it and have it not sound like crap? Only one, apparently.

Following Kiss, however, things got very interesting. Unless you’re reading about him for the first time ever, you should be aware of the mega success of his record released in 2015 called Beauty Behind the Madness. Led by standout tracks like “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face”, Beauty was a colossal success in the eyes of everyone who could already see the writing on the wall. In the absence of Frank Ocean, the determined, powerful music of The Weeknd has become the sexual desire, take-your-clothes-off music of the summer.

“The Hills” in particular is the song that practically pulls the clothes off the listener and welcomes them to a world of slow, methodical rhythms that beg to be kissed and touched. It was the breakout song of the summer, and it’s not hard to see why. If slow tempo, thoughtful, explicit jams are your, uh, jam, plan on finding an attractive person to attend the show with. Voodoo has never seen anything this intimate on the main stage before, so don’t miss it.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Saturday, Oct. 29

Carmine P. Filthy

Le Plur Stage, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Though he currently resides in our fair city, Carmine P. Filthy is the ultimate journeyman disc jockey. He grew up in Miami’s underground drum n’ bass scene and started performing as a DJ at age 17, before diving into the house scene in Chicago, navigating New York’s club circuit, and finally settling down South. He’s a fixture and a crowd favorite at Voodoo Fest.


Kidd Love

Le Plur Stage, 1:00-2:00 p.m.

A New Orleans native, Kidd Love has been dusting off old records and turning them into magic since age 12. He’s a turntablist in the classic sense, scratching and flipping records in the style of classic DJs like Jazzy Jeff and Jam Master Jay. Kidd Love has taken his skills to several international turntable and DJ competitions.


Sexual Thunder

Pepsi Stage, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

The New Orleans-based “future funk” band Sexual Thunder does not shy away from freakiness. The group, whose latest release is an EP entitled Cheek Sweat (The Best Cheek Yet), blend psych-rock jamming with airtight grooves, accompanied by a lascivious style of lyricism indebted to Prince and Rick James.



South Course Stage, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

Stockholm singer-songwriter LÉON is preparing to release her as-yet-untitled debut album in 2017, following 2015’s Treasure EP. She collaborates exclusively with producer Agrin Rahmani, who layers warm keyboards under her voice on some tracks and leaves it appealingly isolated on others.


The Pretty Reckless

Altar Stage, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Taylor Momsen’s hard-rock quartet topped the charts with the pitch-black anthem “Heaven Knows” off their 2014 album Going to Hell, lending legitimacy to the Gossip Girl star’s “side project.” Now, the group will hit Voodoo Fest as they gear up to release their highly-anticipated third record, Who You Selling For, on October 21.


All Them Witches

Pepsi Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

For all their psychedelic guitar heroics and unabashed riffing, there’s still a bit of twang to this Nashville quartet’s tunes. All Them Witches find the missing link between stoner metal and Delta blues and crank up the distortion. Guitarist Ben McLeod and organ player Allan Van Cleave battle it out for supremacy on some tunes, while on others, the group falls back, accurately capturing the spaciness of classic Southern rock.


Saint Motel

South Course Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Los Angeles quartet Saint Motel make jangly, melodious pop inflected with 60’s psych rock. Their My Type EP landed them an international hit with the title track, an idiosyncratic little love song which went platinum in Italy and hit the top 10 on the US Alternative Rock chart. They’re touring to build up some buzz for their major label debut, Saintmotelevision, due out October 16 on Elektra.


Cakes Da Killa

Le Plur Stage, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

Born Rashard Bradshaw, Cakes Da Killa spits ingeniously filthy couplets, often at a breakneck tempo. To be fair, that might just be to keep up with the instrumentals he raps over, which combine the energetic, clap-heavy beats of his native New Jersey’s club scene with the anarchic bass mayhem of modern street rap.


Nothing But Thieves

Altar Stage, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

These blokes hail all the way from Southend-On-Sea in Essex, England. Their slickly produced modern rock pairs polished electronics with massive choruses delivered in frontman Conor Mason’s Thom Yorke-esque wail. They released their self-titled RCA debut in the U.S. this February.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Black Tiger Sex Machine

Le Plur Stage, 3:30-4:15 p.m.

Canada’s answer to Daft Punk, the three members of Black Tiger Sex Machine pound out dark, rhythmic electro and dubstep in custom tiger helmets, equipped with LEDs triggered to correspond to their unique light show. Their show combines sample pads, keyboards, and live mixing for a performance that extends far beyond a basic DJ set.


Oh Wonder

South Course, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

A male-female pop duo who started off recording DIY, Oh Wonder constructs sparkling, careful pop from minimal elements They evoke a more pleasant version of the XX, with the same hushed immediacy but a slightly less clinical sound.



Le Plur Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

This electronic duo met by chance in Hong Kong, then again on the flight back to their native language. This serendipity produced Snakehips, and the duo quickly earned a name with their carefully-crafted, subtle reworks of tracks by the Weeknd and Banks. Their biggest single is “All My Friends,” an unusually ambivalent look at partying that reflects the duo’s moody take on R&B.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


Pepsi Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Alicia Bognanno started Bully after working under Nirvana producer Steve Albini in Chicago. The grunge influences shows on 2015’s Feels Like, their critically lauded debut album, on which Bognanno shreds her vocal cords over classic, crunchy fuzz pedal guitar antics, with lyrics whose caustic take on modern angst contrasts with the sweetness of the melodies they’re paired with.


The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Altar Stage. 5:30-6:30 p.m.

When two legends of music serendipitously meet and decide to make a record for fun, it’s hard to anticipate anything other than a masterpiece. Luckily, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon have not disappointed with their “old-school” approach to a psychedelic, prog rock album. Tackling themes of outer space, sexual deviancy and more, The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s debut record, Monolith of Phobos, is a huge success with fans everywhere and the two have been on tour together as one since its release.


DJ Mustard

Le Plur Stage, 5:45-6:45 p.m.

No sound has dominated the airwaves more in recent years than the efficient, bouncy “ratchet music” of California’s DJ Mustard. Since landing early hits with YG and Tyga, Mustard has moved on to collaborate with Chris Brown, 2 Chainz, and countless others, rapidly expanding from hip hop into R&B and pop. Rihanna’s hit “Needed Me” is a huge step forward in his sound, pairing pulsating, obscured samples with mechanical drums programming.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Melanie Martinez

Pepsi Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

A striking, diminutive crooner with a creepy sense of humor and a Cruella DeVille-inspired look, Melanie Martinez turned a stint on The Voice in 2012 into a deal with Atlantic Records and an ambitious, dark debut with 2015’s Cry Baby. The concept album explored alcoholism, infidelity and murder through the eyes of a child, over tasteful, minimal downtempo.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Shakey Graves

South Course Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Shakey Graves seems like a transplant from another era: his voice, alternately coarse and sweet; his guitar playing, agile and bluesy; his songs, thoroughly lived-in. He performs as a one-man band, accompanying himself on a foot-operated kick drum and tambourine. For the length of his sets, any further instrumentation would seem superfluous.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Alison Wonderland

Le Plur Stage, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

EDM has been accused of lacking musicality, but Australian singer/producer Alison Wonderland brings the techniques she learned during her training as a classical cellist to bear on her tracks. Take the 2015 epic “U Don’t Know,” for instance, where she paired a vocal from the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne with tribal percussion and rubbery bass. She’s since performed at Coachella and earned praise from Diplo, among others.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Cage the Elephant

Altar Stage, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

These Kentucky kids transplanted to London, England, to release their first album in 2008. Now, they’re widely known throughout the U.S. and the UK with four hit records. Drawing early influence from iconic post-punk groups such as Nirvana and the Pixies, Cage the Elephant has recently found their own musical style, with the release of their third album Melophobia.



Le Plur, 8:15-9:15 p.m.

Jeff Abel, Canadian producer and DJ known distinctly as Excision, is a rising name dubstep genre. He has worked with multiple figureheads of the scene as well, such as Datsik and Bassnectar. In his career, he has had a heavy hand in popularizing the aggressive side of electronic music.



Pepsi Stage, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Ghost initially rose to popularity in their home country of Sweden through eccentric stage presence and highly-praised metal albums. The enigmatic group is led by vocalist Papa Emeritus III, and the backing band members are simply known as “Nameless Ghouls.” They all wear identity-obscuring costumes onstage and have never publicly given their names.



South Course Stage, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

From Isla Vista, California, Rebelution will bring their chill vibes to New Orleans. This reggae rock group came together at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2004, and have been keeping fans relaxed and at ease with five albums since their debut in 2007. The band combines reggae, pop and rock with a splash of electronic/dub flare. Their upbeat melodies and lyrics work equally well at parties and in more laid-back settings.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


Altar Stage, 9:30-11:00 p.m.

If you’ve ever seen Danny Carey, Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Maynard James Keenan perform under the Tool moniker, you know that the show is high on spectacle, as well as a craftsmanship that stands leagues above other music created in the realm of hard rock. In the beginning, though, Chancellor hadn’t joined, and it wasn’t until Ænima was released in 1996 that the band solidly transcended the mundane rock radio of the time. In a time where Metallica had gone short-haired and soft and Korn was becoming the next big thing, Tool had managed to join Nine inch Nails in a distinct class of heavier music that was as thoughtful as it was introspective. Their musicianship grew by leaps and bounds throughout the solid running time of 78 minutes.

Over and over again, the band has managed to create visually appealing music in a way that’s different from most others. Videos, although slow to come out and usually involving animatronics or big-scale animations or puppetry, don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with the themes of the songs. Instead, they provide a different side to this highly meticulous band. I won’t go headlong into the ideas and themes showed, but they often center on dark themes of isolation, reemerging from those same places, and reigniting the ideas of prosperity.

Musically, however, the band covers vast terrain. Opiate and Undertow veer more toward immediate anger, hurt and resentment. That element changes gradually throughout the band's catalog. This foursome isn’t bound by any one way of thinking and that message bleeds easily out into the music created. For every song about being abandoned and hurt, there are songs about realizing your true potential and overcoming boundless terrain. This message is felt in a big way on their landmark album Lateralus. Ask any Tool fan and they’ll likely tell you it’s the band’s masterpiece. These people aren’t lying to you.

Lateralus isn’t just the next step in a series of complicated time signatures and heavy riffs. Songs like “Ticks and Leeches” boil with intensity and force like the Tool of old, but there’s a layer of understanding throughout the album that resonates with the idea of celebrating “the chance to be alive and breathing”. Track after track on Lateralus nails down a colorful aura in a landscape of perpetual darkness. It’s enlightening on a level that many albums, especially those by rock-oriented, heavier bands, can’t even come close to reaching. The title track isn’t just a great song. It’s overwhelming in a way that Tool hadn’t ever been before. Sure we’ve gotten the 15-minute long “Third Eye”, songs about people talking crap and Keenan mocking fans, but Lateralus, as a track and an album, rises out of the ashes and easily stands as one of the band's best works.

It was at this point where the band’s scope of stageshow immensely improved. They had elaborate productions on previous tours, but the spectacle presented as part of the Lateralus tour is still one of the most visually appealing shows I’ve ever witnessed, and I would know. You see, I’m a hardcore Tool fan. At this point, I’ve seen them some 22 times. That’s not a misprint either. I wish it were, to be honest, but the power of the music is something that brings great joy and happiness to me every time I listen, or witness the energy put forth by the band live.

As a unit, they work tirelessly to create music that not only hits chords inside of their rabid fanbase, but equally as important, music that fills its inventors with positivity and the knowledge that they worked through problems by creating cathartic music.

The band’s last record, 2006’s 10,000 Days, is another reminder of how slow and thoughtful the band is at creating meaningful music. Overall, the record isn’t as intensely strong as the two previous efforts, but it’s no less interesting and fun to navigate through. The record also sees the band opening in a manner they hadn’t before, especially in the lyrical department. Named as a reference to the mother of Keenan who suffered for three decades to a disease that ultimately took her life, the album is poignant in ways the band had never been before, but it’s also eye-opening to see how they continue to evolve in their respected crafts. Take a song like “Right in Two”. It’s the last full song on the album (an outro follows it). It’s an incredible track to say the least, and it brilliantly brings the album to a close as Keenan’s voice echoes and soars over the instrumental aspects. It’s goosebump-inspiring in many ways, but Keenan’s voice is the force that makes the song remarkable.

Simply put, this is a band that knows exactly what to do in both visual areas and musical terrains. They’re a landmark of music, and if you have the chance to see this mind-blowing experience at this month’s Voodoo fest, I highly suggest you do.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Die Antwoord

Le Plur Stage, 9:30-11:00 p.m.

It’s been six years since the South African “rap-rave” group, Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for “The Answer”), visited New Orleans and tore up the stage up Voodoo Fest. Releasing their first album for free online, they began as an internet sensation with their bizarre and shocking videos, glorifying all of society’s misfits, and writhing between the duality of authority/conformation and anarchy/creativity. Shortly thereafter, they attracted international attention and found themselves signed to the powerhouse label, Interscope Records, and catapulted onto the large-scale festival scene. Unfortunately, the band’s love affair with the big-time music industry didn’t last long and they quickly parted and created their own label, citing their unwillingness to neuter their content to appeal to a wider pop audience. They’re determined to make it on their own terms, even going so far as to spurn collaboration requests from Lady Gaga and many other top stars in favor of working with old friends and locals in their South African hometown.  

Eight years, four albums and numerous world tours later, critics still argue over whether they’re authentic or an act, but the fact remains, the music is powerful and provocative. They have a unique look and sound that’s an assimilation of the diverse cultures from which they’ve been raised. In their material, no icon is safe. No beat is off-limits. No subject is taboo. They’ve got a worldwide, cult-like following that celebrates the spurning of convention and their almost comedic, simultaneous homage and parody of rap, pop and social culture. Die Antwoord are certainly not the first to try and turn pop culture inside out and expose its ugly insides, but they do it in a way that crosses deep, dogmatic oceans.

This year they are back with a new album, Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid, and a new video single, “Banana Brain”. Their three-piece setup includes “God” (formerly known as DJ Hi Tek) doing the beats, and “Ninja” and “Yolandi Visser” up front. There’s nothing like Die Antwoord’s sound, a dynamic concentration of rapid-fire rap from Ninja behind God’s EDM beats and topped off with Yolandi’s ethereal, baby-like whispers. For an intense introduction into what they’re about, be sure to visit their YouTube channel and watch their cinema-like video sequences. The band routinely collaborates with visual artists to develop their style.  


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Sunday, Oct. 30

Unicorn Fukr

Le Plur Stage, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

New Orleans’ Erik Browne co-owns Versed Recordings and produces monthly dubstep and bass music shows around the city, and somehow still finds time to DJ and produce techno and house music as Unicorn Fukr. He’ll end a run of shows that started in St. Louis at Voodoo Fest.


Herb Christopher

Le Plur Stage, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Born in New Orleans but currently based out of Baton Rouge, Herb Christopher is a luminary in the Southern dance scene whose Dirty Disco and KOMPRESSION parties attract techno and house heads en masse. His carefully curated, passionate sets fluidly weave between bangers without ever missing a beat.


The Shelters

Altar Stage, 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Los Angeles quartet The Shelters update 60’s and 70’s guitar rock for the new millennium. Their mixture of Byrds-esque jangle pop and riff-heavy anthems caught the attention of one Tom Petty, who invited the group into his home studio where they contributed to his latest album. Petty co-produced their self-titled debut this year.


The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

Pepsi Stage, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

This rootsy group hails from North Carolina and began by covering a mixture of old African-American gospel and Appalachian folk tunes. They soon landed on an innovative sound that pays homage to both traditions while crafting unique originals. They’re pretty authentic in their methods, as well: they recorded their debut, Heavenly Fire, crowded around a single microphone.


Little Scream

South Course Stage, 12:45-1:30 p.m.

Laurel Sprengelmeyer was born in Iowa, but Little Scream was born in Montreal, where Sprengelmeyer found artistic common ground with artists like Arcade Fire and the National. Her music is a primal kind of art-folk and her live show is energetic to match. She released Cult Following, her sophomore LP, this year.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Altar Stage, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

This ragtag band of fantastic instrumentalists brings their traditional New Orleans-style jazz to venues around the world more than 150 days out of the year. The group takes its name from the historic French Quarter venue where jazz flourished through the segregated 60s and where they often still perform. In recent years, the group has frequently acted as Elvis Costello’s backing band.



Le Plur Stage, 1:45-2:30 p.m.

New Jersey DJ and producer 4B is only 23 and has already collaborated with dance luminaries like Flosstradamus, while releasing tracks on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records and Diplo’s label Mad Decent. His music has brought Jersey Club, the fast paced, staccato style of breakbeat, into the mainstream, leading Diplo to call him “the new king of kicks.”

Sir the Baptist

Pepsi Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Williams James Stokes’ debut as Sir the Baptist was called Preacher’s Kid for a good reason: Stokes grew up in Chicago as the son of a baptist preacher and activist. His music, which he calls “urban hymns,” mixes hip hop’s rhythms with the cadences of gospel. He also puts out a message that, while not forcing religion on listeners, aims to bring positivity to a genre that often focuses on the negative.


Bob Moses

South Course Stage, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Bob Moses is really two people: Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance. The duo’s music is best enjoyed live: they’ve appeared everywhere from Coachella to Bonnaroo. Bob Moses’ blend of emotive, alt rock vocals and blockbuster electronics makes them a favorite among the millennial festival crowd. They reissued their album Days Gone By this August.



Le Plur Stage, 2:45-3:30 p.m.

Miami bass music producer Lookas’ single “Game Over” has racked up over 1.3 million Soundcloud plays. It’s pretty typical of his sound. Rather than the slow build and drop structure of most dance tracks, Lookas’s tracks go full throttle from the get-go, with supercharged synth lines colliding with crushing, nü-metal guitars and sharp drum programming.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Anderson.Paak & The Free Nationals

Altar Stage, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Anderson.Paak is hard to categorize. He produces, drums and raps with equal aplomb, but it’s his incredible, raspy-yet-smooth singing voice that’s brought him the most acclaim as of late. He was heavily featured on Dr. Dre’s Compton and named to XXL’s Freshman Class. The Free Nationals are his crack back-up band that specializes in jazzy, soulful versions of the tracks on his records, including this year’s breakout Malibu


Party Favor

Le Plur Stage, 3:45-4:45 p.m.

Trap music now rivals house as the favorite at EDM festivals. Blending the booming 808 bass of Southern rap with EDM style synth lines, topped off with vocals from artists like Gucci Mane and Rich the Kid, Party Favor’s recent Party and Destroy EP went to number two on iTunes’ album chart, showing just how powerful the nascent genre has become.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


Pepsi Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Maynard James Keenan, who fronts Tool, will also be bringing along his other group to Voodoo Fest. He’s the only permanent member, making Puscifer essentially a solo project, but his top-notch band brings the genre-bending, sexually charged material off albums like 2015’s Money Shot to life.


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

South Course Stage, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

This 67-year-old soul singer has lived a life as rough as his monster of a voice, the audio equivalent of honey dripping down sandpaper. His breakthrough finally came when, after years of homelessness, odd jobs and the occasional gig, he was discovered by beloved retro label Daptone. At the time he was performing as Black Velvet; now, he fronts the Extraordinaires under his own God-given name. His latest, Changes, came out this year.



Le Plur Stage, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

There aren’t many acts out there as devoted to their shtick as Snails. The Maryland group, consisting of Sandy Snailbelow, Snailliam, and Sammy Snail, among others, dress in elaborate costumes and claim to live in a shoebox. That does nothing to detract from their music, a danceable blend of 311-style reggae rock, ska, and post-punk. Their rotating cast of characters includes members of Future Islands, Lower Dens and more.


Band of Horses

Altar Stage, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Ben Bridwell’s pristine, reverb-soaked vocals are this group’s signature element on record. But when playing live, they transform into a barnstorming guitar rock act with solos to spare. This year saw the release of their fifth album, Why Are You OK, but they’ll perform classics from their earlier records, including 2010’s Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms.



Le Plur, 6:15-7:15 p.m.

Born in Slovenia but currently residing in Brooklyn, this DJ and producer makes music some describe as “chillhop.” Jazzy samples and live instrumentation are paired with hard-knocking drum loops, making for a blissful festival experience. This is a great option for taking a moment to relax in between the high-energy sets of other beat-driven acts at Voodoo.


Beats Antique

Pepsi Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Formed in 2007, this group blends funk, world fusion music, and EDM into a potent brew that’s made them a festival favorite in recent years. Their stage show combines live percussion and vocals with heavy programmed drums and samples, and the emphasis is always on keeping the crowd moving (member Zoe Jakes is a belly dancer as well as a producer).


2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews


South Course Stage, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

These instrumental gearheads hail from Santa Cruz by way of Atlanta, and describe their sound as “post-rock dance music.” That’s not far off base. Their sound combines the technical mastery and extended grooves of jam bands with the rock-steady, crowd-pleasing beats of EDM, and they have a killer light show to match.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

Arcade Fire

Altar Stage, 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Arcade Fire stands as one of the more prominent indie rock bands of the 2000’s. Hands down. With Win Butler, his brother Will and wife Regine, they’ve carved out a unique space in the music world. Since their first album, Funeral, released in 2004, the Butlers, Regine and company have produced (at this point) four extremely solid records, all venturing into different and more expanding territories then the last. But, let’s start at the beginning.

With Funeral, the band embarked on a journey that comprised itself of songs about regret, torment and brutal honesty that stood as a breath of fresh air in the alternative music scene. I still remember the purchase of that record like it was yesterday. I had heard the lead single “Rebellion (Lies)”, but I was still unprepared for the sound which they released. The best and most uplifting track of the record, “Wake Up”, soars to new heights of openness in a field of uncertainty and trepidation at figuring out their place in the world.

Over and over again, those same feelings creep into the music created under the banner of the band. Take an album like their third, aptly titled The Suburbs. This is the record that not only got them an Album of the Year Grammy, but also entered them comfortably into the legitimate mainstream. They went from being a band music snobs worshipped to being on primetime television, beating various others in the process of becoming a solid force of good in the music industry. We’ll get back to that record, though, in a second.

The music created has evolved over time, with each record keeping the spirit of the band intact, but also showing how effortlessly they seem to adapt from one project to another. A great representation of that transformation is their second album, Neon Bible. With Butler’s low, truthful voice at the helm, the band could expand their sound to a myriad of environments. And even though Bible doesn’t always hit the highs of its predecessor, it’s a logical step in their career. That record, quite a bit darker than Funeral, perfectly sets the scene for the experience. Tracks like the closer, “My Body is a Cage”, frown upon the world and open your eyes to the pains of everyday living. This is done so well, I think, because the band brilliantly recorded the album in a church they converted into a studio.

But then, somehow this brilliant band from Montreal came back a few years later with what I consider to be their masterpiece. The Suburbs not only expanded their sound again, but also firmly placed itself in the heart of anyone who’s ever felt stuck in the sprawling, mundane world of a teenager. Growing up, feeling like you don’t belong … this record falls squarely into your mind and heart. Much of the success of the record lies in the themes presented, but you can’t overlook the fact that this is a band that’s both very serious about their craft and has the knowledge to put the ideas forward in a way that doesn’t feel stale or overdone.  

The music they present is honest, powerful and utterly cathartic in a manner that many bands simply can’t produce. As it stands now, Suburbs is the height of their excellence (in my opinion), but that doesn’t mean the band stopped creating and pushing themselves to new terrains. As an artist, the worst thing you can do is to repeat yourself, and with their fourth album, Reflektor, they took on a whole different set of ideas and created the record most unlike their previous releases.

Reflektor comes from the same body that the last records inhabited, but there’s something new and exciting throughout. It’s more danceable at times, with the synth playing a more integral part in the process. With sections recorded in Jamaica and our city of New Orleans, these aspects are critical to the album and show the band as extremely willing to go outside of their comfort zone. They create something new and original in a sea of monotonous drifting ideals.

Performing at this year’s Voodoo Fest for the first time, Arcade Fire will present a show that’s high on energy and honesty, as well as craftsmanship and spirit which propels the band and the surrounding audience into a state of thoughtful fun hard to find elsewhere. If you’ve seen them before, you know they deliver, but never expect exactly the same show. As of late, they’ve been throwing in Bowie songs in honor of not only one of the most important musicians of all time, but also a huge proponent and fan of the band all the way back to their first recordings. Try it out. You might end up loving them and becoming obsessed like I did all those years ago. Take a chance, and don’t be afraid to “Wake Up” to a world full of awesome, deeply personal records that are as thoughtful as they are inspiring.

2016 Voodoo Arts + Music Experience Artist Previews

The Chainsmokers

Le Plur Stage, 7:30-9:00 p.m.

This DJ duo recently topped the charts with “Closer,” their third double platinum single this year, which featured pop chanteuse Halsey on vocals and was performed at the Video Music Awards. They’ve softened their sound since sarcastic breakthrough single “Selfie,” but their live sets are still packed with wall-to-wall bangers, and even their mellower tracks come equipped with crowd-moving drops.

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