Your correspondent is always down for a music festival, but let’s be real here: Voodoo’s lineup this year is weiiiiird. OffBeat celebrates eclectic, idiosyncratic music taste as much as anyone, but c’mon. Is anyone excited for more than, like, three of these acts? Skepticism is the mode heading in here.
Of course, music festivals are not all about the music. We may not have a single genre of music to rally around. And we don’t have the drug cornucopia you’d find at a bigger festival to lubricate matters. All we got is a beautiful weekend in New Orleans, a completely random assortment of bands, and the will to get weird.
Overrepresented demographics at Voodoo Experience 2012
-Hippie/hipsters, all face paint and cutoff jeans — there are hardly any indie bands or jam bands on the schedule this year, so the lesson here is that these kids will show up to any festival.
-Girls in risqué outfits/costumes
-Marijuana-smoking parents with lawn chairs
-Bros, usually with at least three of the following: baseball caps, sunglasses, no shirt, cheesy tattoos in cursive, plastic cup in hand.
Underrepresented demographics at Voodoo Experience 2012
-People of color
I wander around upon arriving and eventually wind up watching Infantree play for a couple hundred people. The songwriting was passable, but the instrumental breaks were surprisingly awesome, evoking a harder-rocking Fleet Foxes. The crowd is fairly unenthusiastic, though in our defense it is 5 p.m. on the first day of a music festival.
I wander onward and stumble upon some abrasive bubblegum electronica, being produced by a couple of skinny blondes twisting knobs & throwing their hands in the air. They’re called NERVO, my schedule tells me. Your correspondent is entirely apprehensive with regard to the appeal of laptop shows, especially at music festivals. I mean, shit, they’re just twisting knobs and yelling. Most people are just sitting in the grass, perhaps waiting for Die Antwoord — about half of those standing up are enthusiastically throwing their hands in the air at every opportunity (every five seconds). Your correspondent is admittedly not the target audience here, but it seems reasonable to say that something is off. Your correspondent is so dismayed by this shitshow that he is compelled to indulge in a gigantic daiquiri. Plus Die Antwoord is coming up, and I refuse to be sober for that.
“Ostensibly, Die Antwoord is weird. As far as you or I can tell — with our normal (and/or normally-hip) lifestyles — they are a pair of entertainers that are fucked up, strange and/or wholly personify ‘the Other.’ But on a layer one degree deeper — a subtext that has as much to do with irony as it does LARPing — the duo has simply mastered Branding in the 2012/hashtag sense of the term.”
The truth of the matter is I just don’t get it. The band kicked things off with a rap that went something like: “DJ R-Def will fuck you in the ass / DJ R-Def will fuck you in the ass / DJ R-Def will fuck you in the ass / DJ R-Def will fuck you, punk ass white boy faggot / Look who scared of a real man / DJ R-Def will fuck you til you love me.” The next four songs all had “fuck” in the title, though most of their raps are unintelligible. Your correspondent doesn’t find this shit worth intellectualizing, frankly.
I catch a little of Gary Clark Jr. and The Avett Brothers, but the combination of Die Antwoord and that second daiquiri has me too out of sorts to pay attention. I do notice that the festival grounds are starting to light up. There are sculptures, lights and installations everywhere suddenly, enough to impress even the most visually desensitized ’90s child. Bonnaroo has nothing on this. I’m starting to notice more and more people clearly on drugs.
Things finally start to make sense with Neil Young. This guy is perfect for the music festival medium, agreeable, laid-back, and huge. I’ll confess I expected the old timer to be on rhythm guitar, but nothing doing; Young plays his own solos, and he rocks out way harder than I’d anticipated. Shit got weird at a couple points — think more Wilco or Yo La Tengo than CCR. I find myself pining for just the instrumental breaks, the verses and choruses mere formalities. His guitar playing is just beautiful, there’s no other word for it. After one especially intense jam, a bro is heard exclaiming, “That was fucking aaaaaawesome!” Indeed, it was.
On my way out, I pass a bunch of kids dancing around a flaming robot, blaring some beep-boop-y techno. I instantly know this will be my lasting memory of my first day at Voodoo.
Holla at y’all tomorrow.