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.