The way I look at it, there are 2 parts to every music festival: the music, and the festival (duh). The music part is all about which artists you saw, and the festival part is about the logistics that made the experience [hopefully] worth it.
I’ve already talked/gushed about the music in an earlier post, so now I want to look at all the other details that went into making Voodoo the amazing festival that it was.
In all 3 days of Voodoo, I waited in line to get in for a grand total of 20 minutes, all of which were concentrated on day 1. In perhaps the smoothest fixing of a “problem” I’ve ever seen at a festival, Voodoo added additional entrance lines for days 2 and 3 and we just waltzed right in.
Security at Voodoo involved someone glancing in my purse and sending me on my way. Compare this to Electric Zoo in New York, in which we had to remove our shoes and socks, our belongings were thoroughly searched which included opening all lip glosses, wallet compartments, and anything else that opened, and a pat down that involved someone going up my shorts legs, in my waistband, under my bra, and running her fingers through my hair (seriously). So it was a really nice change to be able to enter the festival without feeling physically violated. Plus, it was obviously a lot faster.
Voodoo is truly an all ages festival, with attendees spanning all decades of life. The overall vibe was thus a lot more laid back, and it was really pleasant not being around quite as many obnoxious teenagers (no offense, teenagers) (just kidding, offense, a lot of you are rude). Plus, despite the minimal security which meant people could probably sneak in as much of their substance of choice as they wanted, I didn’t see a single person who needed medical attention, which I can’t say for any festival I’ve been to before. No obnoxious teenagers OR vomiting ones? Double bonus.
The Fun Stuff
Voodoo is billed as a music and art festival, and I was pleased to find some legitimately cool installations on the ground, including a pterodactyl (?) that you climb into and use some bike pedals to make it flap its wings, and a giant metallic head with lots of moving facial parts that you could control with levers.
There were also a bunch of fun rides, so of course my friends and I went on the ferris wheel pretty much as soon as we walked into the park. It’s tradition, at this point.
Water gets its own category because when you’re outside dancing in the sun all day, this is of the utmost importance. Festivals typically devote considerable pre-event email and social media space to their water policies.
Factory sealed water bottles only!
Empty water bottles only!
No water bottles at all! Must buy them here for $6!
Only pre-purchased festival branded water bottles allowed!
Empty Camelbaks are OK!
Free water stations onsite that can be filled with any bottle!
Free water stations that also have cups!
I have seen all of these things in pre-festival emails, yet I saw none of them from Voodoo. Voodoo listed that there would be water stations on its website, but it otherwise didn’t make a big fuss on social media about water. Similarly, there wasn’t a big fuss about it onsite, either. Over the 3 days we brought in sealed water bottles, empty water bottles, and even open water bottles that still had some water in them. There were plenty of refill stations which never had a line, and if you didn’t have a bottle to fill, they would give you a cup. Plus, they had people standing nearby who would flavor your water with some fruity electrolytes, if you wanted. Stayed hydrated at a festival was never easier, and I appreciated that.
Voodoo took place in New Orleans City Park, which is a little bigger than most of the festivals I attended this year, but much smaller than, say, Lollapalooza or Firefly. I love being able to walk from one end to the other in under 10 minutes, because it means more time spent listening to music and less time traveling. The proximity of the stages to each other only annoyed me once, when the overpowering sound of the Arctic Monkeys from the main stage meant that in order to hear Lauryn Hill I had to really get right into the crowd in front of her.
Spending time in New Orleans always reminds me of one of my favorite Onion articles, “Pretty Cute Watching Boston Residents Play Daily Game of ‘Big City’.” New Orleans is similarly adorable and not-that-much-like-a-real-city. There are some streetcars that you can take to get to Voodoo, as well as some buses, which appear to run the same routes as streetcars. They don’t run that frequently and they get pretty crowded, and on the way back from the festival they make 0 stops and just drop everyone off at Bourbon Street whether you wanted to go there or not. If you’re like us and are staying at a hostel along the bus route and you have no idea that they won’t make any stops, you press your face longingly against the bus window as your hostel – and your warm clothes and a bed – pass you by. But you know what they say – when life hands you lemons, just hang out on Bourbon Street anyway because your friend’s birthday is in 30 minutes and there’s a bar with a really great cover band.
Voodoo is ridiculously cheap. I paid less for my 3 day pass than I paid for ONE day of Electric Zoo.
Overall, Voodoo was a really fun, well-run event and despite some very minor hiccups, I would absolutely go back. I’m sad that I can’t attend next year (I’m very important and my 2015 late October/early November is already booked), but you may very well see me there in 2016.