The Pogues, Sunday 2:15 p.m.
Things seemed dire there for Shane MacGowan when in 1991 he was deemed too drunk and was drummed out of the the Pogues, but the band is back with their ragged, toothless captain back at the helm. Unlike the neo Celtic-punk bands that followed in their wake, there is no shtick to the Pogues; they rage and weep and cackle with absolute authority, embodying traditional Irish music while transcending it. In the possible event the reunited Pogues are a holy mess of a train wreck, they will be the grandest train wreck you are likely to see this year. If I may make a suggestion, get Susan Cowsill up there to belt out the female part on “Fairytale of New York.”
K’naan, Saturday 1:50 p.m.
There is no paucity of hardship tales in hip-hop, but few mean street stories are going to stack up to K’naan’s childhood in Mogadishu during the Somali Civil War, a point he has no problem making on his recent album Troubadour. On the single “If Rap Gets Jealous”, K’naan features an epic guitar solo from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett to underscore the fact that he’s about something bigger than hip-hop; he’s about illuminating the world’s direst situations that get lost in the media spectacle of modern America. The thing that separates his story from becoming a cloying Amnesty International handout is his frank humor and flares of rage that pop out of his whip-smart production.
Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Saturday 8 p.m.
Jello Biafra has worn a lot of hats over the years: iconic punk front-man, free-speech pariah, incendiary spoken-word artist, wild-card collaborator and torchbearer for the waning rebelliousness of punk. As a 50th birthday present to himself, he formed his latest group, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, coming back to the adrenalized surf punk of his glory years with the Dead Kennedys. Jello’s bark is still as dangerous as his lyrical bite; on the album the Audacity of Hype, set to be released the weekend of Voodoo, his vibrato sneer still cuts through the din of frenetic guitars and double-speaking politicians like it was still the Reagan era.
Mates of State, Saturday 2:50 p.m.
Sometimes I think the image of hipster marriage that occupies the design and eco-consciousness of scrubbed, mildly tattooed couples in advertisements are modeled after Mates of State. Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel make immediately loveable music together, music with complex craft and a sly intensity behind it. Their songs give off an interlocked sense of purpose that seems almost a Platonic manifestation of the word “marriage.” If I may make a dinner party analogy, indie rock decided to hold an ironic pot luck and these two showed up with the most amazing paella.
Kiss, Saturday 9 p.m.
Here is how I really think Voodoo is going to play out: an evil City Park scientist in charge of wedding planning is going to use mind control to shut down the festival because park officials are instead funneling the money that normally goes to elaborate Halloween nuptials into staging Kiss at Voodoo. The scientist implants a mind control device in the neck of Lenny Kravitz who then helps the scientist build an evil robot Gene Simmons that wreaks havoc by melting all the mango ice in the park with his fire-breathing powers. They lock the actual Kiss in their tour bus and a fullband evil robot Kiss is sent onstage to whip the crowd into a riotous frenzy which the scientist hopes will scare park officials into never hosting another Voodoo again. Just as all hell is about to break loose, actual Kiss escapes and vanquishes the robot doppelgangers in an epic super-power battle on the festival grounds—there is no word at press time as to whether Tommy Thayer will be fitted with Ace Frehley’s “laser eyes.” Actual Kiss continues to rock ‘n’ roll all night, reveals the scientist’s plan to the authorities, frees Lenny Kravitz from his spell, and Halloween is saved!