Any music festival in a city with as much character as New Orleans has the potential to be successful, but have it over Halloween weekend and you’re in for one crazy party. Since 1999, Rehage Entertainment has been growing the unique festival into what it is today, now in partnership with live music giant Live Nation. This year’s lineup brought a diverse group of artists to City Park, topped by a rare appearance by Ozzy Osbourne joined by Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, and Slash of Guns ‘n Roses.
Heading to New Orleans, it was hard not to pay attention to the weather forecast which was calling for heavy rains and thunderstorms throughout Saturday and Sunday. Knowing the pending weather was about to get nasty, I tried to make the most of Friday’s pleasant skies, capturing as many photos of the festival sights as possible.
Friday was kicked off by Hundred Waters on the Flambeau Stage. Signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label, I was excited to finally experience the band live. Nicole Miglis’s haunting vocals seemed like the perfect match to the theme of the weekend as the band played to a modest, though responsive, mid-day crowd.
Next up were impressive performances from Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable, the high energy Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, and a well received Joey Badass set backed by New Orleans’ own The Soul Rebels.
Friday’s main stage lineup featured festival mainstays Metric, Modest Mouse, and headliner Florence + The Machine. Florence Welch and her entire band wore sinister makeup, playing into the festival’s Halloween vibes.
Florence delivered one of her consistent fiery performances, sprinting from one side of the stage to the other. At one point even jumping into the crowd to get personal with her loyal fans who had been pressed against the rail since the moment gates opened early in the day.
Saturday started off dry to the surprise of most. Houston’s The Suffers opened the Altar (Main) Stage, after playing one of the festival’s smallest stages the year prior.
Synth-pop outfit Joywave and grunge rockers Clutch rounded out our afternoon before the skies began to turn.
While the thunderstorms seemed to barely skirt the city for the majority of the afternoon, heavy rains eventually drenched City Park as night time began to fall, leaving the grounds a swampy, muddy mess.
While some took advantage of the situation by using costume props to slide in the mud, others suited up in waterproof gear, determined to wait it out for Ozzy and his famous friends.
The always weirdly entertaining Peaches didn’t let the pouring rain stop her from giving her fans a shocking performance, complete with giant vagina costumes.
After a bit of a hiatus, it was nice to see Santigold appearing on a festival stage again. The singer brought a couple dozen fans on stage to dance with her, as well as treating the crowd to donuts. Yes, about 40 dozen donuts were wheeled out on stage and passed out to the crowd.
A quick trip to the festival’s underage playground, otherwise known as the “EDM” Le Plur Stage for Duke Dumont. The mud and water was the worst surrounding the dancing crowd so I didn’t last long before returning to the main stage to setup for the remainder of the night.
It was the perfect combination Saturday night on the Main Stage. A expectation exceeding performance from legendary rockers Jane’s Addiction followed by Halloween’s main event. Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Tom Morello, and Geezer Butler, performing on Halloween night under haunting skies in the City of New Orleans.
The rock’n’roll all-stars played a hit heavy set, featuring “Mr. Crowley”, “Iron Man”, “N.I.B.”, “War Pigs”, and of course “Crazy Train”. During crowd favorite “Iron Man”, Tom Morello flipped his guitar and lifted it to his face, revealing a sign reading “OZZY RULES” on the back. Ozzy frequently hyped up the crowd, encouraging them to ignore the crappy weather and have fun, all while drenching them with a fire hose.
Unfortunately, heavy rains overnight led to massive flooding in City Park and required organizers to cancel the entire event on Sunday. Though to be honest, I was a little relieved to not have to brave the heavy rains all day. Luckily, many artists scheduled to perform offered intimate make-up shows in venues across the city that night, including a 3hr+ dance marathon from Eric Prydz.
Ultimately, there’s no comparison for Voodoo Experience and the City of New Orleans if you’re looking for a thrilling way to spend Halloween. Organizers continually improve upon past years, with both the logistics of the festival site, and the diversity they bring with their lineup. Here’s to hoping 2016 stays dry, cause we’ll definitely be there.
See our entire collection of photos from Voodoo Experience 2016 below. All photographs © Nick L. for FestivalSnobs.com.