Jello and Kiss at Voodoo Fest
If you searched for a mud-free patch of dirt to stand on at the Voodoo Festival Saturday in New Orleans, you found it in front of a stand of ATM machines.
While the festival grounds were muddied elsewhere, concert goers who banked at the ATMs did so standing on a thoughtfully provided bed of fresh hay.
Costumed zombies, super heroes, Mad Hatters and Alices, at least one Jesus, bunnies, and fans dressed as the “Whip It” band Devo, all fought the mud on this Halloween Night, and the mud won.
Music fans fared much better on the Voodoo musical highway, where there were no sinkholes or wrong turns, just high quality musicians covering a gamut of styles.
Where else in the world are you going to find Walter “Wolfman” Washington leading a jazz/blues band on a Preservation Hall sanctioned stage, and the Drive by Truckers partying down in face paint at the same time, one stage away.
Pick a band, one you knew, one you never heard, all were psyched to play in the heady post-Katrina New Orleans music scene.
The dichotomy of the groups, and the disparate musical tastes of the fans at Voodoo, was monumentally evident when Jello Biafra, former frontman of the politically charged Dead Kennedys, and Kiss, the astronomically fluff glam band, played on stages next to one another, within minutes of each other.
Having never seen either, I felt compelled to catch both.
Biafra, with his new group, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, performed under a tent in front of about 250 people. He blistered the Halloween air with political diatribe against everything from the housing meltdown to three strikes criminal law policy and the disaffection of the far left with President Obama.
Wearing a white chemist's jacket, hands and face bloodied, Biafra performed a dramatic acting out of some tunes before singing the song. By the time the jacket was discarded, revealing a fake blood-stained American flag shirt, Biafra had whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
It was a crazy, cool performance, a rare example in today's America of a performance artist taking on perceived government evils for virtually an entire show.
I slipped out of the Le Carnival in the Bingo! Parlor tent and followed a zombie-faced woman in the direction of the Voodoo stage, where Kiss was already playing. She led me through thousands of screaming fans and into a secure area within 30 feet of the center of the stage.
One of the Kiss guys eventually made the first and only political statement of the group's saccharine sweet glam concert, declaring that if anyone in the audience was in the house to hear about a solution to global warming or ending world hunger, they were in the wrong blanking place; those kinds of things would still be around in the morning, party tonight.
There followed many Kiss songs backed by fireballs shooting off the stage, flames firing out of guitars, guitar smashing, and a barrage of confetti that left the ground white as snow.
Would I ever sit through another Kiss concert; doubtful. Would I change the radio dial the next time a Kiss song comes on; probable.
Empty as it left me feeling, I have to admit, the Kiss show was a hoot. I left Voodoo with only one troubling thought in mind; where the heck was I going to wash my leather boots.