Well guys, Voodoo Fest did not disappoint. My first large scale festival journey was a success! What are unique festival experience I had this past weekend, and I only went for one day. It was a refreshing experience to try out a new crowd, and I left with a new interest to explore many more festivals far away from my SoCal standards.
I flew in to New Orleans Saturday morning, took a nap, and then headed into Voodoo Music & Arts Experience early. The festival went from noon to 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and to 9pm on Sunday. The weather was perfect. I was expecting a lot of humidity down South, but there was hardly any. The days were warm and at night it would get a little chillier, but never freezing. It would even get hot at times dancing in the crowd.
The festival took place in City Park, this super cool big park just outside New Orleans proper. And get this, the park actually had GRASS and TREES! What a concept coming from LA. Scattered around the park were trees with Spanish Moss hanging from them, adding to the Halloween vibes for me. I’m sure locals are less impressed by these trees but I couldn’t get over how perfectly they added to the scenery.
The park was super easy to get to, and security getting into the gate was also not too bad. We waited a bit, but the line was always moving. They checked my bag, but were pretty relaxed. I had some extra face paint for my skeleton face, and they actually let me keep it. I felt for sure they might take it, but overall security was chill, and I didn’t feel like I was being strip searched like a fool.
City Park is a beautiful spot for a festival, and it never felt too crowded. People were partying all over around the stages and the park. People brought blankets and lawn chairs to chill at the back areas of stages. There were also a lot of things going on around the edges of the festival: booths, bars, carnival rides and eating areas. Speaking of eating, I was really pleased with all the food I got to sample there. Some of the booths had really cool New Orleans foods (alligator, po-boys, crawfish, jambalaya…) as well as some standard festival food options (pizza, hot dogs, etc). First thing I tried was crawfish pasta. It was really good, and a filling lunch. I quickly learned one thing about New Orleans food: it’s pretty heavy and more often than not deep-fried.
There are a lot of cool client activations, like the Orchard Hard Cider Arcade where I won a pretty sweet tin cup for 50 tickets, and the Toyota tent where you could get a free screen printed backpack among other things. There were lots of little spots like this scattered around the festival where you could get some free swag in exchange for your email address.
Something else I need to mention, the bathrooms. You guys, they were Porta Potties, but they flushed! AND they were illuminated inside at night! I don’t understand why this is the first time, after attending over 20 different festivals, that I’m seeing something like this! Especially for a festival where the ticket prices were so low, it’s maddening to think we could have a life of luxury at festivals but we’re not!
The overall vibes at Voodoo Fest were very different than any other festival I’ve been to before. It really seemed like most people were just there to hang out, bounce from stage to stage and check out the vendors. There were blankets and lawn chairs, little kids and groups of older adults, rave fams and people on dates. Sometimes at events in LA, I get the feeling like people are just there to be seen, or to party so recklessly they don’t know where they are. I felt the opposite at Voodoo. People were definitely there to party, and were having a good time, but it was less aggressive, and less concerned with everyone around them. Even hanging out around Le Plur, which was the EDM stage, it didn’t seem to me like every other person was high out of their mind which, sometimes I seem to find is a necessity at some events in LA.
It was kind of refreshing. People were just having a good, relaxed time. Maybe that’s it though, everything seems to move a bit slower in the South, so maybe the relaxed vibes pervaded the festival culture as well.
Musically, Saint Mattel is a lot of fun during the day, and DJ Mustard was a hit as the sunset. My absolute favorite of the day was Die Antwoord. Literally I cannot believe that I haven’t seen them perform before this; their live set was so much fun. They have so much energy that washes over the crowd. If you don’t know them, look them up go down a black hole and watch every video you can find. They’re so freaky – I’m officially obsessed. Their videos don’t do them justice though, you really need a live experience for the full effect.
It was also really cool to see all the costumes that people put on for Halloween. I would say about the same amount of people wore costumes to Voodoo as I’ve seen at LA festivals. I did notice though that there weren’t any rules about full face paint. I had only painted half my face in preparation for what happens at Hard Events where you have to wipe off half (for security reasons I guess), but they let people go in with full faces painted.
Overall, I give Voodoo Fest a super high rating. Definitely a festival worth checking out. When three-day passes first go on sale, they’re $99. What a deal. The festival was super well organized, well coordinated and had a lot of fun things to participate in. You can probably find a flight cheap enough like I did (if you’re coming from far away) and have an amazing vacation weekend. I highly recommend stepping out of your festival comfort zone and travel somewhere new! There’s tons of cool events across the country that are worth checking out. I really want to explore a lot of other new festivals after this weekend – that might be my 2017 goal. I wish I had spent another day at Voodoo Fest, but there was really a lot to do in New Orleans as well, and I wanted to do it all. If you’re planning a festival vacation away, I’d suggest a single day ticket so you still have time to explore the city.