Mid-City Masquerade makes a stunning debut
The inaugural edition of the Mid City Masquerade marked an exciting, eccentric addition to the fall festival calendar that will undoubtedly return for many years to come. Local indie-pop band Sweet Crude curated the festival with local promoter Simply Play, handpicking the top-notch music lineup and creating a festively funky space in a Mardi Gras float warehouse. Thanks to some careful scheduling there were no breaks in the music for more than six hours and the costumed crowd was able to dance without interruption and explore the massive floats that littered the warehouse.
Tank and the Bangas started things off with a set of the band's one-of-a-kind fusion of soul, rock, spoken-word, and funk that has only gotten stronger with time. Tarriona "Tank" Ball possess the sort of manic stage presence that's impossible to look away from once she pulls you in. With a small but rapt crowd resting in the palm of her hand, Ball led the band through an impassioned set that never wavered in energy and served as a fitting opening for the evening.
Young Buffalo, the only band on the bill not from New Orleans, made the trek from Oxford, Mississippi to deliver an excellent set of precise indie rock that seems destined for college radio stations across the nation. Their latest album, House, features a collection of strong songs that echo bands like Local Natives and Real Estate but with a subtle Southern flavor. The band was clearly thrilled to be playing in such a unique setting to a crowd of costumed revelers that accepted them with open arms.
Although all of the music on the main stage was exceptional, the night clearly belonged to Sweet Crude. The seven-piece band drew the biggest crowd and did not disappoint as they kicked things off with the infectiously danceable "Little Darling." The band seemed ecstatic to see their vision for the Masquerade fully realized, and they made sure to give every song a little extra oomph that propelled the music to new and exciting places. The band moved together as a cohesive unit, pounding on drums and singing harmonies with the effortlessness that only comes with hours of practice, while Alexis Marceaux shined brightest with her jaw-dropping vocal chops.
Lost Bayou Ramblers closed out the night with a performance that demonstrated the band's incredible range and refusal to be constrained by the limits of Cajun music. Experimentations with electronic instruments and forays into rock territory ensured zero dull moments throughout the hour long set. Two aerialists provided stunning visual interpretations of the music that seemed perfectly fitting for the location and spirit of the night.
The evening wrapped just before midnight, sending the costumed masses out into the night with ringing ears, tired feet, and ear-to-ear grins. After such a great debut, there's no doubt that next year's masquerade will only be bigger and better as the festival cements itself as a Mid-City institution.