Why Cage The Elephant Blew Tool Away At Voodoo Fest

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Edited by Brett Buchanan

This past weekend, Alternative Nation had the opportunity to cover the Voodoo Festival. Voodoo Festival is on Halloween Weekend every year in New Orleans. It’s a three day festival featuring artists in genres like rock/alternative, EDM, and pop and hip hop.

First, I just have to acknowledge how incredible New Orleans is. Friday night before the festival, I went on a “vampire tour” in the French Quarter. We learned some history while seeing some interesting places, and then were sent off into the nightlife. This was my first time in the Big Easy, and I definitely plan on going back again.

The main artists I wanted to see were The Pretty Reckless, Cage The Elephant, and Tool. I got to City Park just in time to make it to the front of the Altar Stage to see The Pretty Reckless open up for the day. If you have not already seen my other articles on The Pretty Reckless, let’s just say I am a very big fan and was very excited to hear the new songs after having reviewed the band’s new album Who You Selling For.

Taylor Momsen’s scream during “Sweet Things” was chill inducing. She kept the crowd engaged throughout the set, asking us to sing along to “Make Me Wanna Die,” “Heaven Knows,” and “Going to Hell.” “Living in the Storm” was just recently added to TPR’s setlist, and it kept the energy level up during the set.

Near the end of the set, Momsen said, “I wanna see you fuckin’ bounce, man” and yelled for everyone to jump once the band broke out into the track, “Going to Hell.” Once the song was over, she ran off the stage and the rest of the band finished their jam session. A girl next to me contended that she could now die happy after seeing The Pretty Reckless live. After watching The Pretty Reckless perform, I saw a few people dressed as Slash and approached them, obviously. There was another great GNR moment on Sunday, when the band Bob Moses all dressed as members of Guns N’ Roses and called themselves “Guns N’ Moses.”

I stayed near the Altar stage to get close to the front for Cage The Elephant, so I had to wait out The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s set. They all imitated the appearance of John Lennon onstage and even tuned their voices to sound like them. They adapted a psychedelic sound, for obvious reasons, so it was a nice stray from the hard rock that had been played on the stage beforehand.

Cage The Elephant’s set absolutely blew me away. I had never seen them live, and had no idea how great they were live. They were extremely interactive with the audience. A true showman, frontman Matt Shultz worked the crowd as he ran back and forth across the speakers, with blood trickling from his mouth from a supposed skateboarding accident. It didn’t take long before his shirt was off and his skin was glistening with sweat from sprinting all over the place and dancing and jumping. He seems to have taken a great deal of inspiration from Mick Jagger, evident by the way he moves and sings.

The crowd at the front was around my age, which usually is not the case at shows I go to, which added to the fun. A few times, rhythm guitarist Brad Shultz would stand right at the edge of the crowd and played as everyone tried to grab him. During “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” he came and stood right in front of me. At the end of the set, Matt started crowd surfing before rolling back on stage to close. He rubbed himself with several garments on the stage and threw them into the audience, and then ran off, to end an incredible performance.

Tool were next, and let me just say that while Tool is obviously an extremely talented band, seeing them right after Cage The Elephant’s energetic performance did not exactly give me a great first live impression of them. Frontman Maynard James Keenan stood in the back by the drumset for most of Tool’s set, and danced around subtly, but did not make much of an attempt to engage with the crowd. The setlist felt stale, and the performance just lacked energy.

I guess I need to see Tool when it’s solely their show so there’s no other mood to compare it to, which could give me a completely different take on them as a live act. They have an extremely unique style and captivating visuals on the screens behind them.

I definitely plan to attend Voodoo Festival again in the future. There is so much to do at the festival other than the music: carnival rides, an enormous concession area, art structures, and even an interactive cemetery – you need to go for the whole weekend to get the full experience.

So if you’re looking for a fascinating crowd with great music and creepy Halloween vibes, definitely look into Voodoo for 2017.

Thank you to Fresh & Clean Media for the opportunity to attend.

  • Joe Costigan

    Nice write up. Cage The Elephant is probably one of the most under-appreciated bands in modern rock. They have been around in the mainstream for like 8 years and have put out some really good records but never hit it “big” unfortunately. I guess that is more of an indictment on the state of rock radio more than anything else but that is a different subject for a different day.

  • Lettuce Prime

    So…did Cage blow Tool away, or didn’t they? At the end it nearly sounds like the author is rethinking her title.

  • Joe

    MJK always stands in the back. Danny Carey hits the drums a bit hard for him to be in front. MJK also has an issue with bright lights so he usually isn’t well lit. Tool shows back in the day had a bit more theatrics but Tool is all about amazing music. Have seen Tool over 30 times and have seen cage the elephant as well.

  • Jeff Mauney

    The writer obviously knows nothing about Tool…

  • mrpete987

    So, it sounds like this writer values band member-audience interaction most highly.

    Well, Tool is the WRONG show for that…

    • Frankie

      It sounds like the writer found that member-audience interaction makes a show fun and memorable and that Tool’s refusal to do anything more than minimally and politely engage with their die-hard fans, coming from a huge Tool fan who has seen them twice before, knows every word to every song, met Maynard, and is also a 5’2” female and couldn’t see a fucking thing the entire concert, is pretty goddamn annoying.

      • mrpete987

        Oh, I’m a huge fan here, too. And it’s always been annoying, ha! But they’re stubborn like that, especially MJK. I’ve seen them four times, and the first time I saw them, during one of their first dates in support of Lateralus, Maynard didn’t speak a WORD that wasn’t a lyric until right before the final number, he said “good night”.

        Bringing a whole new meaning to letting the music “speak for itself”, ha ha!

        But that is what it’s all about with them, anyways. The writer seemed borderline lost about Tool, anyway, like “Hey, what’s wrong with Maynard, he’s hanging out behind the drum kit, that’s odd…”

  • phusion00

    Ugh are you kidding me…
    “Frontman Maynard James Keenan stood in the back by the drumset for most of Tool’s set, and danced around subtly, but did not make much of an attempt to engage with the crowd. The setlist felt stale, and the performance just lacked energy.”

    YEs, but what about the F’ING MUSIC!?!? I’ve seen Tool TEN TIMES since 2002 and I’ve had nothing short of a religious experience each time. Music is subjective and obviously you’re a big fan of these mainstream bands that couldn’t hold a candle to Tool and have been around 1/4 of the time :/

    • UltraAK

      oh but Cage the Elephant was soooooo much better…..LMFAO – yeah right…

    • LMC

      HEAR! HEAR!

  • UltraAK

    Just youtubed Cage….wow do they suck

  • Joshua Hallenbeck

    Cage the Elephant blows Tool away huh? Hrmmmm.

    It is jaw-dropping that any fan of music, let alone someone writing about it, would ever place Cage the Elephant in front of Tool an any conversation.

    It is also painfully obvious that the writer has not taken the time to listen enough to make comparisons.

    I listen to Cage as an aside, something to fill the air occasionally. Tool is another experience in and of itself.

  • Craig Becker

    This is why you can’t sEe somebody as amazing as tool first at a music festival.

  • Christopher Wendle

    Lol your subjective opinion means nothing. A Taylor Swift fan would say Taylor blew tool away. It’s a subjective opinion.

  • Sally M

    If you want a religious experience through music watch Tool live. If you want showmanship go watch britney spears. I guess it’s all relative to what you’re into, but not who acts the COOLEST ONSTAGE or does neat tricks.

  • Corndog

    Elitist much?

  • Scribble Scribe

    While I was unable to attend Voodoo this yr, I was lucky enough to experience Tool headline Voodoo Fest ’01, during the Lateralus tour. To this day it remains the best Voodoo Festival headlining or pre headlining opener performance I have ever experienced, & I’ve been to quite a few: Stone Temple Pilots in ’00; The White Stripes / A Perfect Circle / Queens of the Stone Age, on the same night & stage in ’03; Muse / Weezer in ’10 were all amazing, one night Voodoo Experiences I have been to, & still regret not having been able to catch NIN either time they headlined. Lennon Claypool Delirium should’ve opened for Tool.