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Concert Review: Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, LA

The weather was very windy and unseasonably cold, so the first half of the day was spent bundling up and seeking warmth in the chilly shade of the stage. Though gates had opened at 10:30, the first band did not take the stage until 3pm. This gave plenty of time to get to know the other fans around us as our anticipation grew and grew throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Flow Tribe, a local funk rock band, kicked off the string of openers with a highly energetic and unique performance. Utilizing instruments ranging from electric guitars to trumpets to metal washboards, they put on a highly enjoyable (though perhaps slightly drawn-out) show full of both original material and creative covers.

Next up were Canadian rockers Death From Above 1979. Their heavy, punk sound was great, though somewhat difficult to hear due to the bass being cranked up much too high. Still, I was impressed over-all by what these guys managed to do, especially considering that the band consists of only two members — a bassist and a drummer (much like one of my favorite bands, Royal Blood).

There’s not much to say about the next act scheduled to perform that day — singer Lauryn Hill (of Fugees fame). Ms. Hill arrived nearly 45 minutes late for her set and only managed to get through three or four songs before the festival cut the lights and sound, forcing her offstage when she went beyond her scheduled time slot. Perhaps I would have been more interested in the music were it not for my irritation at her late arrival. I don’t have much to say about her as an artist but her respect and professionalism certainly leave much to be desired.

I had heard a lot of mixed reviews from friends and acquaintances about the last band to perform before AM took the stage. Though I’d never been the biggest fan of their music, 30 Seconds to Mars really surprised me. These guys put on a fun, entertaining live show with more audience interaction than I’ve ever seen at a gig before. I had a great time dancing, jumping, and singing along but the highlight of the entire performance, was actually a more low-key moment — when frontman Jared Leto performed a solo, acoustic version of The Kill. Though their music may not be for everyone, I highly recommend their live show.

For Arctic Monkeys fans across the U.S. the AM era officially came to a close two Saturdays ago at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music & Arts Experience.
Dramatic as it may sound, it truly did feel like an era was ending — one with great significance to many fans everywhere, including us here at the GATRS (it was, after all, what brought many of us together in the first place).

When Arctic Monkeys finally took the stage, we were more than ready. The large festival crowd had begun pushing forward, and the anticipation at the barrier was almost tangible as we waited for those familiar opening notes of Do I Wanna Know? to fill the air. And when they did, the crowd went wild.

 The band sounded great, playing a set full of popular hits, as well as a couple lesser-known tracks (such as All My Own Stunts, a personal highlight).
Up in the front, we danced and sang along like crazy, trying not to dwell on the fact that we were creeping closer and closer to the end as the night wore on. Still, there was a part of me that could recognize that this was an ending that was perhaps overdue. The guys played well, and put on a quality show, but their tiredness was apparent from the get-go. This was my 5th time seeing them within the past year, and it was easily the least-energetic I’ve seen them. After touring for so long, it’s clear that AM is in need of a break — and after all of the unforgettable nights they’ve given their fans throughout the world, that break is well-deserved.
Finally, the time came for the band’s final song of the night and I felt my emotions begin to get the best of me. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially to a band that’s given you so much. I tried my best to keep it together as I danced and sang along to R U Mine? (The answer is a resounding “yes,” by the way. Do they even have to keep asking?) and as quickly as it began, it was over. The band left the stage, the lights came back up, and the crowd began to disperse. That was when the reality began to set in — it was really over.

Though perhaps not their most outstanding performance, Arctic Monkeys still put on a fun and entertaining show, closing out their triumphant US tour on a high note. And though the wait for LP6 (and the next round of touring!) will be long and torturous, the AM era has given all of us many wonderful memories to look back on as we wait anxiously for what the future has in store.

Thank you to AM for being their fabulous selves and sharing their beautiful talents with their fans and most importantly, thank you to all the friends, old and new, that shared in this incredibly journey with me! We’ll meet again at the barrier.
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