Concert recap: Voodoo Experience 2015
Despite the audacious claim that "Voodoo is a rain, mud, sleet, snow or shine experience," the organizers of the 2015 Voodoo Experience cut the festival short by cancelling the final day of the festival in response to the rain-soaked fields in City Park. Cancelling the final day was a real shame since Sunday’s lineup featured some of the best acts of the weekend, and the Voodoo faithful were more than willing to brave the nasty conditions to end the weekend-long party on a strong note. Thankfully, there were some excellent performances on Friday and Saturday that redeemed Voodoo 2015 from becoming a tragically shortened and soggy affair.
Read on for some of our favorite sets of the weekend and an extensive photo gallery.
As storm clouds gathered overhead, Terence Blanchard’s new group delivered a blistering set of jazz-fusion that blurred the lines between multiple genres as the band stretched out into hard rock and acid-jazz. Blanchard assembled the incredibly talented band from across the country and the veteran trumpeter was ecstatic to show off his new sounds to a hometown crowd. The unrelenting downpour kicked in about halfway through the set, as Blanchard blew his horn with a reckless abandon that seemed to call the rain out of the sky.
Joey Bada$$ and the Soul Rebels
The Soul Rebels’ finely tuned blend of NOLA brass and old-school hip hop made them a perfect backing band for New York rapper Joey Bada$$. The band has collaborated with the rapper before, making this more than just a one-off novelty act. The Soul Rebels kicked off the set without the rapper, building momentum and drawing a crowd like they have been doing for the past 20+ years. By the time Joey Bada$$ emerged, the crowd had swelled and pushed close to the stage to bask in the irresistible energy of a top-notch MC fronting one of the best bands in the world. It’s moments like this that bring fans back to Voodoo year after year.
This year’s Voodoo lineup featured a surprising amount of quality country artists, including former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and touring powerhouse Zac Brown Band. Singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham’s Friday night set showed off a muscular sound only hinted at on record, with the young guitarist ditching his acoustic guitar for some electric workouts that injected the songs with a healthy kick of power-blues. Bingham has quietly been ruling the alternative-country scene for some time now, picking up an Oscar for his work on the soundtrack for the film Crazy Heart and releasing a number of critically-acclaimed albums. At a festival dominated by DJs and yesterday’s rock gods, it’s good to know there’s still room for some genuinely talented songwriters like Bingham.
On Saturday afternoon, the torrential rain could have easily made the festival come to a complete halt. The power-rock quartet Clutch was the first band put to the rain test, and the Maryland rockers did not disappoint. The band fought back the rain as best they could with a blistering set that got the crowd amped up for the night’s headliner and encouraged them to power through the intense weather.
The rain-soaked Halloween concluded with the godfather of all things wicked, Ozzy Osbourne. The hard-rock innovator was joined by some serious heavyweights, included Slash and Tom Morello, as he tore through a haunting set that spanned his entire catalogue. Each of the special guests were highlighted during the set and their musical talents gave varied textures to Ozzy’s tunes.