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Monday, October 31, 2011

Voodoo 2011: reflections on the weekend Experience

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Another Halloween weekend comes to a close, as does its Voodoo Experience counterpart, a fertile playground of really high young people, their chaperones, great musical moments, "sexy" costumes and bathroom lines stretching into infinity.

I thank Voodoo for the extra Port-o-Lets brought in for Sunday, though I tricked my body into waiting until I got home.

At the closing night of Day One, pre- and post-grunge icon Soundgarden, amid glowing stage fog and doom-y laser lights, performed a wrecking ball-sized setlist of hits from '90s mammoths Badmotorfinger, Superunkown and Down on the Upside — from "Rusty Cage" to "Pretty Noose," which singer Chris Cornell (looking very Jesus-y, or circa '91) prefaced with a tale about being pulled over and busted for pot by Louisiana DEA agents in the '90s. "F— those assholes," he concluded. Really the only difference from the Soundgarden of '91-'96 is now everyone has a beard (except drummer Matt Cameron, who under his Pearl Jam contract must not overshadow Eddie Vedder's facial hair). The crowd roared along to "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman," and the sound mix amped up Kim Thayil's wailing guitar solos and bassist Ben Shepherd's growling, thunderous riffs.

So, Saturday...

Did anyone try any of those free shampoo samples? I saw plenty on the ground, and I'm sure they made a satisfying splat sound when stomped on.

Mastadon won over many headbanging teens near the front of the stage, but a rough and bass-heavy sound mix left the remainder of the hundreds gritting their teeth. Those Viking beards sure look nice on camera, however.

Maybe the best part of the bounce "azztravaganza" at the Bingo! stage was watching bulky costumes shake it — a Wild Thing in dead center wobbling in dance-approval to Vockah Redu, for example.

Punk legends X, which appear to have won the unofficial best Voodoo performance award, barreled through Los Angeles and performed one of the loudest, most explosive sets on the grounds that weekend. Meanwhile, Kreayshawn (and White Girl Mob co-hort V-Nasty) pranced onstage, finishing with viral hit "Gucci Gucci," causing a crowd-wide seizure sing-along to its best line, "I got the swag and it's pumping out my ovaries." The set that preceded it, however: a lot of stone-cold straight faces in the crowd. Girl Talk followed, turning all of City Park into an outdoor house party, with pyrotechnics and a million Billboard hits, blended into an ADD pop culture boombox. Also: audience-provided PSAs at Le Plur include "MDMA is in the building."

Snoop Dogg, with live band and a Marques Colston jersey, brought out friends from the No Limit family (his one-time label) and thoroughly proclaimed his love for marijuana.

... and Sunday:

Mannie Fresh stepped from behind his DJ deck because, he says, Voodoo asked him to DJ but he wanted to rap. And rap he did. His opening spins mirrored Girl Talk's song choices (Ludacris and DJ Jubilee, among them), but then he remained on the mic, to an appreciative crowd.

Dr. John strolled through a mid-tempo, intensely funky set, with guests Leo Nocentelli, Cyril Neville, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Irma Thomas all joining for a song each (except for Irma, with two, because she's Irma).

Ray Davies arrived late (excruciating sound check), played briefly (and with a burst of energy), and awkwardly engaged the crowd with call-and-response "Heeeeeey oh!"s between (and during) every other song on his set list, which went from solo cuts and '70s Kinks tracks to extended jams of "All Day and All of the Night" and "You Really Got Me." Davies, seemingly unaware he fronted one of the all-time greatest rock bands, still puts all his stock in those very early singles. He also related a story about the use of "Nothin' in this World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl," a song he wrote when he was 18 to a cheatin' woman hoping to win her back, and how a certain film used it without paying him (did he mean Rushmore?).

Odd Future made everyone really mad. I'm not sure what everyone was expecting. I mean, it's Odd Future, featuring a guy who, when confronted (on the Internet) about his "misogynistic and homophobic" lyrics, replied with this.

The Meters and Cheap Trick battled for the real estate (and time slots) shared by the WWOZ and Bingo! stages, with frequent sound bleeding from latter to the former's stage area. Cheap Trick's introduction — a collage of references to the band from The Simpsons to Fast Times at Ridgemont High — finished with a female-voiced, flight attendant-addressed "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please welcomes to the stage the greatest f—ing rock band you've ever seen." While Ray Davies spoke kindly of his friend Alex Chilton before performing "Till the End of the Day" (which he performed with Chilton on See My Friends), Cheap Trick made no mention of Chilton or Big Star before their cover of that band's "On the Street," featured on That '70s Show. But the band delivered a stadium-sized set. Seriously huge. But apparently lip-synched. But not!, says the band's manager and sound engineer.

The Meters — or, The Original Meters — packed the WWOZ stage, with Bonerama and Cyril Neville making guest appearances. Drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and keys wizard Art Neville both had hoarse voices, but the band remained tight (especially George Porter Jr.'s bass), with extended cuts and a spot-on "Hey Pocky Way." A few loose set breaks between songs drowned some of the energy, but a beaming Ray Davies (watching from stage right) looked thrilled to witness the reunion.

Closing out the main stage, The Raconteurs lit up Twitter with proclamations confirming Jack White's God/sex symbol status. The band slithered, grumbled, shook and rattled. City Park then cleared, revealing a wonderland of garbage, foot-long Hurricane cups, twinkling art pieces and carnival rides, and the din of honking taxis.

I missed a lot, but hey, happy Halloween.

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