Nine Inch Nails' electro-funk and Paramore's enthusiasm got our attention yesterday, along with Rudimental, He's My Brother, She's My Sister, The Breton Sound and more.
Much of what I thought about Nine Inch Nails' Voodoo set is online at Spin.com, but while the show was almost generous and open-hearted by NIN standards, it still had an impressive air of claustrophobia. The overhead lights dropped to lower the ceiling onstage to such a point that the band often seemed boxed in, and Trent Reznor seemed similarly constrained as he was zipped to the top of his leather jacket, then wrapped around the throat with a scarf. With those visuals, the constant buzz and click of last night’s glitchy electro-funk seemed like the sonic equivalent. In that context, the thrashing moments were sweet relief.
The set brought David Bowie to mind a number of times, not only in the cover of “I’m Afraid of Americans” - which I liked better than Bowie’s version - but in the set design and the bright white lights across the back of the stage that hearken back to the 1978 tour recorded for the Stage album. As I observed at Spin, Reznor effectively remade parts of his catalogue to make sense live with Hesitation Marks. Since I like his version of laptop glitch funk, this was one of my favorite NIN shows.
Elsewhere at Voodoo:
- I had He's My Brother, She's My Sister pegged wrong. I heard Nobody Dances in This Town as more freak folk - fundamentally acoustic, vocally oriented music regardless of the instruments actually used. Live, the psychedelic element is clearer as the sonic textures count. Too bad the soundman thought the slide guitar was the show.
- Yesterday Royal Teeth closed with "Wild," which has been used in two commercials. When L.P.. finished with "Into the Wild," the crowd responded the moment she sang "Somebody left the gate open" - a line heard in the Citibank ad. In the days of actual record sales, maybe you could sniff at licensing a song for a commercial. Today, it's mailbox money and as this weekend’s made clear, it's genuine exposure. Still, it's unsettling to watch a band and think of an ad. Fortunately, I can count on my slackass attention span to save me from Mad Av manipulations - I had to look up who used her song.
- The Breton Sound talked in our conversation about being between audiences. Live, they’re similarly between the band they want to be and the one they are. They play like the big band they aspire to be, but with bits of stage patter that critique stardom. Their passionate, joyful cover of Weezer’s “Surf Wax America” says they're fans first, which means they can't take the thing they aspire to wholly seriously. That doesn't bode well for their stadium future, but it makes their shows as much about rock as rock itself.
- Dirty South bailed, leaving a moment when New Found Glory were the only set playing. Maybe the cosmos thought all of Voodoo needed some by-the-numbers punk. Stupid cosmos.
- Least Likely Cover: "I Wonder" by Rodriguez, done well by Ruby Amanfu. Least Likely Introduction: "I Wonder" by Ruby Amanfu, who dedicated it to her friend Brittany Howard from The Alabama Shakes, who was in town for a few days but not long enough to be at the show.
- For more on Paramore, Reignwolf, Rudimental, and Afrojack, see my piece at Spin.com.
- The Scorseses is more ska than it likes to think, but that's not a bad thing. The high-energy set was fun and light-hearted, but taking time to denounce "cookie cutterness" seems a little ironic.
- "I gotta slow it down to get that far." The line made perfect sense during one of Saturday's best shows with He's My Brother, She's My Sister, which displayed undeniable confidence and swagger. It's easy to tell the Los Angeles band is influenced by New Orleans, taking time to slink along with slower-tempo earworm grooves only to kick it up later. It was enough to produce one of the most spirited crowds outside the Le Plur Stage.
- Delta Rae is one of those southern-leaning rock acts that sounds generic on record but takes full advantage of a live setting and leave a mark. Astounding harmonies and compelling, heavy tempo changes complemented the dramatic demeanor of the group, as the four vocalists stood broodily at their mics while waiting to start a new song, wind blowing in their hair. It could've been too much - especially with a bold choice to cover Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" - but it worked in Delta Rae's favor.
-It was good to see Cults play a confidence set mostly fit for the Ritual Stage. Last time the band played New Orleans, it seemed less in sync, and singer Madeline Follin struggled to cleanly hit some notes. Saturday's late-afternoon show was a welcome improvement, and Cults' sound swelled largely around Follin's voice in a lovely way.
-The most entertaining moment of the Gaslight Anthem's Ritual set was the spelling mistake on the big screens before the show, readying the crowd for "The Gaslamp Anthem." What followed was an auto-piloted set that didn't reach any highs or any lows.
-Don't tell Paramore's Hayley Williams if the world doesn't see her as a rock star yet, because she seems sure she is. That confidence went a long way for Paramore's show - a fun, loud but never truly engaging set. Williams and her main bandmates rarely stayed put for the raucous affair, which saw a tagged-team pseudo backflip and Williams' alarmingly well-developed spitting technique.
-Nine Inch Nails' incredible headlining show was a perfect choice for Voodoo. Trent Reznor's dark prog project melds two of the festivals biggest genres - rock and electronic. Someone should've told the EDM crowd they'd fit right in with Reznor's theatrics, including one of the most insane light shows I've seen yet. The group swayed effortlessly between heavy jams and ambient grooves, making the two-hour-plus set completely enamoring.
- Rudimental was anything but basic. Jumping and dancing around the stage, climbing on amplifiers or other equipment, they often looked like a ragtag neighborhood band where every kid on the block gets the chance to bang on something. Their enthusiasm was infectious, their energy unbridled, and for a band headlining an electronic stage, it was refreshing to hear such a diverse set, bouncing from multiple British subdivisions of funky music and hip-hop to blues and jazz.
For more coverage of Voodoo, see our stories on
Friday in review
Keys N Krates
The Breton Sound
Matt and Kim
Maxim of The Prodigy