Voodoo Experience 2014, Day One – Outkast, Twenty One Pilots, Bleachers + More
I know what you’re thinking after reading the headline: “Oh no, not another Outkast review.”
You’ve got my sympathy -- they toured the 2014 festival circuit so heavily that I managed to see them six times in total, each time with generally the same show, save for a few varied asides from Andre 3000 and Big Boi (depending on the locale). Yet Friday’s performance at New Orleans’ 16th annual Voodoo Experience -- the day one closer unless you were one of the few over at Booka Shade -- is worth noting as it was the final day of the iconic Atlanta duo's 20th anniversary reunion tour.
And as indicated by the message printed on Andre’s now recognizable jumpsuit this night -- “I don’t have anything else to say” -- it may very well have been their final show ever. Given that, it was slightly disappointing that there was no effort made -- aside from a mention that it was the 14th anniversary of 'Stankonia' to the day -- to make it particularly special. No dazzling production (they didn’t even have their centerpiece visual cube), no previously unplayed deep cuts, no cool costumes to celebrate Halloween (c’mon Andre!).
That’s not meant to discount the wild fun had by thousands of attendees during key tracks like set opener 'B.O.B,' staple dance numbers 'Hey Ya!' and 'Roses' and older bangers like 'So Fresh So Clean' and 'Ms. Jackson.' Still, it wasn’t the career-defining finale it should’ve been -- here’s to hoping they make a brief return for at least one incontestably brilliant blowout.
In light of that, among a first day lineup that was overall a bit lackluster compared to the three-day weekend’s upcoming fare, the day’s real highlights came much earlier.
After a couple of comfortable and predictable performances from Dallas rap duo Yung Nation and Lafayette indie rock locals Royal Teeth -- the former rhymed mostly about matters like being a “young pimp” and “eating shrimp” while the latter was snoozishly one-note -- Twenty One Pilots swooped in to save the day on the main stage.
The Columbus, Ohio-based duo alternates between piano-driven indie rock, punk, dub-reggae and rap, which makes them a bit hard to pinpoint musically. Yet all of that culminated into a high-energy show -- complete with several costume changes from ski masks, to aliens, to skeletons -- that had thousands of fans screaming and singing exuberantly. Add to that their acrobatic theatrics -- backflips by drummer Joshua Dun off the upright piano, mile-high jumps by vocalist Tyler Joseph and crowd-surf drumming sessions atop small plywood platforms -- and their show easily became a display worthy of headliner status.
Voodoo’s reputation for diversity was meanwhile fulfilled by highly dance-worthy indie pop forays from Nashville’s Wild Cub and fun. side-project Bleachers, which were followed by the fest’s first wave of heaviness in a rousing run by Chicago’s Rise Against.
“I wanna go home and tell people there’s a punk scene in New Orleans,” said wild-eyed frontman Tim McIlrath. After an hour of powerhouse tunes (including a few choice tunes from July’s 'The Black Market') that sparked circle pits aplenty from a heavily costumed crowd, the vocalist was no doubt able to do so.
Though ska mainstays Fishbone got the fans skanking and Melvins kicked up plenty of dust with their signature sludgy rock songs, the evening’s most intense mosh sessions cropped up during a main stage takeover by thrash metal moguls Slayer. Among crushing cuts like 'Disciple,' 'Chemical Warfare,' 'Raining Blood,' 'Dead Skin Mask' and 'Angel of Death,' the long-running quartet pulled off what would undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most Halloween-appropriate sets of the weekend, evil through and through. It was a spectacularly sinister day one sendoff for anyone else in the slightly-underwhelmed-by-Outkast boat.
As you wait for more from our adventures at Voodoo, enjoy our exclusive shots from day one below: