As the weather (hopefully) starts to cool down, New Orleans begins to get excited for the 20th anniversary of the wildly eclectic Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. Every year, thousands of people from various points on the map and different walks of life converge on the festival grounds for three days of music and Halloween-inspired revelry. This year’s lineup is one of the best and broadest in recent memory, so Where Y’at thought we should treat the fans to our top five picks for each day of the fest. In true Voodoo fashion, this list covers many genres and vibes, and there’s plenty here for everyone. Do that Voodoo that you do!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26
5. Elle King
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., WISNER STAGE
After her 2015 smash hit “Ex’s & Oh’s,” she was hailed as the next big thing. And for good reason. Now, she is finally releasing her new album, Shake the Spirit, and if the album is as infectious and enchanting as her famous debut, you’ll be hearing way more from her. In any case, be prepared for a show full of danceable tracks including “Shame” and the aforementioned major hit from a few years ago.
4. The Revivalists
5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
After years of gradually becoming local heroes, The Revivalists, with their funky, soul-fused rock, are getting a big showcase at a peak position on the opening day of the fest. I’ve now seen these guys three times, and each time, they draw you in in ways only NOLA music can. Gone are the days when the band was opening Jazz Fest and playing a small stage at Voodoo just five years ago. This year, they’ll be getting a prominent spot on the lineup. It’s sure to be a fun, carefree set for everyone who decides to sing and dance along with Ed Williams, David Shaw, Zack Feinberg, Rob Ingraham, George Gekas, Andrew Campanelli, and Michael Girardot.
3. Mumford & Sons
9:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
Much has been made of these post-bluegrass heroes from England, if you could even call them that. After an incredible first album and a few hiccups along the road, Mumford has become one of the best-known rock bands touring these days. Based on real-life adversity and humble beginnings, their songs are ones made of joy, regret, and soaring, meaningful vocals—all rolled into one. Expect plenty of hits, like the lovelorn “I Will Wait,” the rushed and intense “The Wolf,” and plenty more, as they close out the opening night of festivities. It’ll be great to hear Marcus Mumford and company belt out their songs to what’s likely to be one the biggest crowds of the weekend. Get there early if you want a good viewing spot.
2. A Perfect Circle
7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
In 2001, when Voodoo first went to the three-day format, A Perfect Circle, led by Billy Howerdel and the enigmatic Maynard James Keenan, essentially stole the show on the closing night of the festival. This time around, the outfit is coming off a long hiatus and an album that initially doesn’t quite pack the punch of previous efforts. It really is a grower of a record, though, and they have plenty of awesome music to sweep over the nighttime crowd of the festival. It’s sure to be a heavy, thoughtful, and entertaining set. If you haven’t seen them before, do so, and if you love them from way back, be sure to make it to the show. Either way, just go.
1. Rüfüs Du Sol
8:30-9:30 p.m., SOUTH COURSE STAGE
Electronic music can be a divisive genre, but in the case of Rüfüs Du Sol, most people seem to agree: In the last few years, the members of this band have garnered a reputation as one of the best, most forward-thinking acts. Made up of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt, the Australian trio has compelled audiences with high-quality dance tracks like the smash “Underwater,” which mellows at moments, creating a lush environment, yet still manages to tilt the chambers to a fully formed dance party. Their music isn’t one of those wait-for-the-drop moments that much of the EDM movement is based on—it’s actually entirely listenable and enjoyable from start to finish. I expect this audience to swoon over and love the entire set, and it’s likely to be a spectacle for the whole audience to enjoy.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27
5. Marilyn Manson
8:45 p.m.-9:45 p.m., WISNER STAGE
During the second day of the festival, one of the most interesting acts will emerge on stage. For years now, Manson has been gradually trying to alter his image as a controversy-for-controversy’s-sake artist, replacing that image through the more thoughtful albums that he has become known for recently. His last album, Heaven Upside Down, is his best record of the last 15 years, and he still has plenty of awe-inspiring tracks from the glory days of Antichrist Superstar and Holy Wood. I’m expecting a highly elaborate stage show with plenty of memorable songs from all his different musical elements. Should be interesting.
4. Janelle Monae
5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
Janelle is a wild mix of all types of urban music, but it’s more thoughtful and refined than 90 percent of what is coming out these days. She’s a weird mix of R&B, electronic swooning, and soul, but it works so well that the end result is undeniable. I’ve never seen her play before, so I’m just as excited as everyone else is, I’m sure. This show will likely be a dazzling moment for Monae to showcase her wildly artistic visions of what music should be: dangerous, thoughtful, and willing to push the limits.
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., WISNER STAGE
So far, this group of indie pop sensations from California only has one EP to their credit, but I haven’t stopped listening to it for months. It’s poignant and reminiscent of the days of younger years when all you wanted to do was be with your friends, contemplating love and hopelessness. It’s gorgeously layered, too, and with this momentum they’ve been building up with the Spring EP, I expect this band to pull off a sleeper victory set at the Voodoo festival. It’s gonna be memorable. So, don’t sleep on a band that, I’m willing to bet, will be the next big thing in a very short time.
7:30 p.m.-8:45 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
Without question one of the best bands of the last five years, Odesza will absolutely crush the stage once they descend to an adoring crowd on Saturday night. Their last album, 2017’s A Moment Apart, was a revelation of brilliance, and if you’ve seen the recent videos from Coachella and various other shows, you know that the stage show will likely be jaw-dropping and wondrous. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about the artistry they create, and this show has a good chance of being the set that most people at the festival will still be talking about long after everything is said and done.
1. Travis Scott
9:45 p.m.-11:00 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
Childish Gambino has been advised to continue recovery on his recent tour injury and will be forced to cancel his upcoming performance at the festival this weekend. In his place, Travis Scott will be bringing ASTROWORLD to New Orleans and headlining Voodoo Festival on Saturday, October 27.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., SOUTH COURSE STAGE
Without a doubt one of the most interesting bookings of the entire three days, Boston’s Lettuce will serve up easy-going funk in a way that few others are able to. It’s powerful and moving at moments, and the ingredients employed make it a worthy addition to what deserves to be a well-attended set. I’m very much looking forward to them, and if you’re a fan of chill, intricate funk music with sporadic vocals, this is an act you need to make sure you don’t miss.
4. Sunflower Beam
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., SOUTH COURSE STAGE
I saw this band earlier this year, and frankly, I felt bad that I hadn’t sought out their music earlier. The three-piece band, featuring Nick Kivlen on lead guitar and vocals, Jacob Faber on drums, and vocalist/bassist Julia Cumming, melds indie pop rock with a type of sensitivity that hasn’t been done this well in years. Its flowy and honest in its relationship perspectives, and it’s a great escape that all can relate to. It might not be everyone’s thing, but I think it’ll go over well on the Sunday of the fest.
4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., SOUTH COURSE STAGE
With only two albums under their belt, AJR has a little way to go in terms of consistent greatness. But the material I’ve heard thus far seems to point to a band poised to break big in the near feature. “Sober Up” is an honest yet hopeful track that tugs at the truth that we deal with in our formative years. It’s the perfect introduction point for this band, and if you’ve enjoyed this single, along with the other radio hit “Burn the House Down,” you’d be mistaken not to attend this set.
4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., WISNER STAGE
Another artist representing the state of Kentucky, Tinashe is considered as a girly-girl rapper with a silk voice, but that description is highly misleading. She’s honest about what she wants, both from her life and her music. You don’t expect a woman like this to be able to get as blunt and dirty as some of her male counterparts, but her unique brand of hip hop makes it clear that she can hang with the boys with virtually no effort. She’s released three really good albums that will get plenty of attention. If you want to move your body and lose yourself in a beat, I suggest you make it to see her on Sunday.
1. Arctic Monkeys
7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m., ALTAR STAGE
Easily the best band of the final day, England’s brand of rock and roll saviors, led by the brilliant Alex Turner, will once again showcase what they’re capable of as they close out the entire festival. After seeing them headline a few years ago on the second day of Voodoo, I finally understood what all the fuss was about, and I’m sure this time will be even more awesome. They have a recently released album that’s receiving mixed reviews from music fans, but it’s a good, albeit different, type of record for them. It’s fantastic, in my opinion. Add all the other rockers the band has in its arsenal, and this is guaranteed to be a compelling set from one of the most consistently great bands of the last decade or so.
Get ready to Voodoo, everyone!