The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, is scheduled to reign over Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
on Halloween, but Friday featured a friendlier face headlining on the Altar stage. Florence Welch of British indie rockers Florence and the Machine was in the Halloween spirit with her face painted white with darkened eyes — which seemed Day of the Dead-ish. Her band members and backup singers also painted their faces. But her magenta power suit with long jacket made her look more like the president of darkness — at least at times, as when she teased the audience about needing "human sacrifices" before singing "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)."
Most of her demands were much friendlier. Near the end of her set, she turned "Dog Days Are Over" into a love-in — inviting couples to embrace each other, touch each other's faces and shed an article of clothing. Welch then ripped off her shirt and, wearing just a bra for a top, ran into the audience and down a 40 yard path to the sound booth, where an audience member tossed her his shirt. I don't know if he thought that was going to be a trade, but she turned around, headed back to the stage and disappeared with it.
In an energetic performance, Welch spent much of the set roaming the wide main stage and running offstage into the audience, at times donning peoples hats (are returning them). The 80-minute set was highlighted by her emotionally powerful versions of "What Kind of Man" and "Spectrum (Say My Name)." She sang half the songs on 2015 release How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
, including the title track, which she said she wrote while on tour in the United States. The band also did "Delilah," "Queen of Peace," "Ship to Wreck" and "Shake It Out." She reached back to earlier albums for "What the Water Gave Me" off 2011's Ceremonials
and "Drumming Song" off 2009's Lungs
Florence and the Machine travels with a harp, which sat on stage and was used sparingly. But there was an orchestral vibe to the Altar stage's last two acts. A large ensemble full of multi-instrumentalists, Modest Mouse turned in an entertaining performance, alternating between mellower tunes and thrashing anthems that featured founder and lead singer Isaac Brock pressing the body of his guitar against his face as he screamed into it and raked the strings. But much of the set was more measured, and he broke out his banjo — joined by Lisa Molinaro on violin and a small horn section — for "King Rat."
The band played material ranging from "Lampshades on Fire" off 2015's Strangers to Ourselves
to "Missed the Boat" off 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Sank
to "Float On" off 2004's Good News for People Who Like Bad News