Top Guns: Antigravity’s Best of the Best for Voodoo 2015

Published  October 2015

The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is once again upon us, requesting permission to buzz the hallowed oaks of City Park. It’s a magical time of year, bringing boundless joy to both roving packs of teens ready to melt face in the dance tent and graying metalheads eager to relive their own misspent youth. This year’s festival offers up an elite cornucopia of sounds, checking all the boxes from metal to rap to Americana and back again, a little something for the Maverick and Goose in all of us.



Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine

The underground turned quasi- mainstream rapper takes a pit-stop from his “World Domination” tour to perform at this year’s festival with the legendary New Orleans-bred brass band The Soul Rebels. The 20-year old New York native built a following after releasing three mixtapes: 1999 (2012), Rejex, and Summer Nights (both in 2013) from his independent label, Pro Era. Plus, he landed the coveted spot on XXL magazine’s Freshman Class cover in 2013 along with a spot in the cypher  at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards. Bada$$ has also reached international, diverse audiences with performances on The Tonight Show and collaborations with Tablo, a member of the Korean hip-hop group Epik High. Fans can expect to hear his mixtape material along with songs from his first studio  album, B4.DA.$$, released earlier this year. The Soul Rebels are sure to give Joey extra flare for a more dynamic  performance. —Morgan Lawrence

Being one of the weirder bands in my personal top 10, I never really expected  Modest Mouse to find commercial success. The pop culture spotlight briefly swung and landed on them  around 2004 with the release of Good News For People Who Love Bad News. “Float On” could be heard blaring from the speakers of every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the block (much to the chagrin of every sad bastard who had spent the previous decade wallowing to the tune of Isaac Brock’s drunken warble). The fervor died down with a relative quickness and Brock and company resumed business as usual. In March of this year they released their  sixth full-length record, Strangers to Ourselves. Expect this show to draw a vast crowd, but if they play “Float On” early enough, things will thin out and you’ll have plenty of room for your own melancholy shuffling. —Erin Hall

antigravity_vol13_issue10_Page_20_Image_0004JASON ISBELL
On the heels of his newest release, Something More Than Free, Americana darling Jason Isbell will play the opening day of Voodoo Fest. Finding  fame initially as part of the triple-guitar assault of Southern rock band Drive-by Truckers, Isbell struck out on his own in 2007 and worked on honing his songwriting skills. Strong solo albums  would follow, but so would the dark cloud of addiction. After completing a rehab program in 2012, Isbell would go on to release his most critically-  acclaimed album yet in Southeastern.  Now on the other side of addiction, with a wedding and the birth of his first child in the rearview, Isbell is showcasing a maturity and depth of performance we’ve not yet seen from him. His live show is an entrancing experience that  combines the electricity of a Saturday night at the juke joint and the quiet power of a Sunday morning in the pew. —Erin Hall

We haven’t really heard hide-nor-hair from Girl Talk (a.k.a. Gregg Gillis, pictured opposite page) for some time now, but in not too distant memory he was everywhere. His song mashups, combining snippets from dozens of different songs seamlessly into one track, were addictive and cemented Gillis as forever equated with the genre. In 2006 he blew up with his album Night Ripper, and his follow up albums, Feed the Animals and All Day, did well too. Then he just sort of disappeared. Certainly he was still out there, somewhere, doing stuff, but on a way more low-key scale. The work of Girl Talk is something that is definitely intended to be experienced live. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pack the sort of crowds that he used to in his heyday. Drink lots of water. You’re gonna sweat. —Kelly McClure

The dynamic DJ duo will perform at Voodoo for the first time and the ravers  are freaking out! The EDM-driven twosome consists of heavy-weight producer Diplo alongside multiple Grammy winner Skrillex (who played Voodoo twice before in 2012 and 2014). Those of you who have seen Skrillex live know there will be a hyperactive, energy-filled crowd fist-pumping and jumping, so expect double the chaos. You may know their music from Justin Bieber’s career-reviving single, “Where Are You Now.” Skrillex has shown versatility in his single with A$AP Rocky, “Wild for the Night.” Along with their radio-friendly hits, the duo will bring their elite EDM tracks for fans and all festival goers who hear the bass from their stage throughout City Park. We will see what the Lebron  James and Dwayne Wade dream-team of DJs can bring. —Morgan Lawrence

The Red Headed Goddess also known as Florence + The Machine returns to Voodoo for the 2015 festival. The Britain-bred, indie-turned-mainstream rock band has not performed at the festival since 2010 and their fans have waited patiently. For those of you unfamiliar with Florence Welch’s angelic voice and magnetic stage presence, you can expect heavenly harps, vibrational bass, and glorious fans blowing into Florence’s flowy chiffon costumes and fiery hair. Their  latest album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful received great reviews and complemented their previous albums, Ceremonials in 2011 and Lungs in 2009. Their acoustic albums easily translate to live audiences with Florence’s consuming voice and moving upbeat  music. Fans and festival goers can expect to sing along to the band’s biggest hits like “What Kind of Man,” “Cosmic Love,” “Shake It Out,” and “The Dog Days Are Over.” Worship  Florence + the Machine this year, lest they go on another five year hiatus. —Morgan Lawrence



Joey Bada$$ (photo by Brandon Xuereb)

Joey Bada$$
(photo by Brandon Xuereb)

Babes in Toyland are one of those  special bands it’s safe to bet the majority of the people attending Voodoo this year (or any year) have never heard of, but the ones who have are very excited that they’re playing. The Minneapolis punk band split in 2001, but reunited this year for a special tour that brings them through New Orleans for the festival. They perform on Saturday on the same bill as Jane’s Addiction, so maybe think of Saturday as being the prime ‘90s flashback day. The current lineup for the band includes singer/guitarist Kat Bjelland and drummer Lori Barbero, who were on all three of the band’s albums, and bassist Maureen Herman who appeared on their sophomore album, 1992’s Fontanelle, and their final album, 1995’s Nemesisters. Ladies in attendance, muster all your bravery and elbow your way to the front for this. Dudes: maybe make this the one set that you don’t meat block with your meaty shoulders. Save that for Ozzy or something. —Kelly McClure

If I were to think back on some of my earliest musical influences, I would say Jane’s Addiction rides high on that memory. My impressionable 14-year old brain was probably ready for just about anything. I was just lucky a good friend put a Nothing’s Shocking cassette in my hands when he did. There was something about Dave Navarro’s wailing guitar, Stephen Perkins’ rhythmic percussion, and the howl of frontman Perry Farrell. It was all at once rebellious, sexy, melodic, and down right rock’n’roll. At the time, “Ocean Size” really did feel as big as it’s namesake and “Summertime Rolls” was about as tranquil as rock could get. Later, friends and I would joke how the epic journey of “Three Days” felt about as long and was the way to get the most bang for your jukebox buck. When these larger-than-life personalities take top billing on Halloween night, I expect “Classic Girl” to transport me back to a time of budding artistic aspirations. Unfortunately, that budding artist was a bass player who will be somewhat disappointed not seeing original bassist Eric Avery thumping out the intro to “Mountain Song.” Nonetheless, I’ll be front and center when rock’n’roll, novelty, and nostalgia all come to a fevered pitch on this year’s most wicked night. —Kevin Comarda

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse

Giorgio Moroder, the legendary auteur tastemaker most notably responsible for the three powerhouse singles from Donna Summer’s Bad Girls (“Hot Stuff,” “Dim All the Lights,” and the title track)  and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” (the Top Gun love song which won him one of his three Oscars), has been much more than a prolific producer. Throughout the 1970s, he built on the minimalist and early electronic work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Henry, and Silver Apples to create the poppy, dance-friendly disco sound and, more dramatically, what would eventually develop into electronica dance music. 1974’s experimental Einzelgänger gave way to the beat-focused Knights in White Satin, which in turn led to the very modern-sounding From Here to Eternity. Hopefully, his recent setlist from a BBC Radio 2 Live concert gives some insight to his Voodoo show. While a third of the setlist includes Donna Summer covers and another third is made up of songs from his 2015 album Déjà-vu (including the wonderful title  track featuring Sia), he manages to feature his Random Access Memories contribution “Giorgio by Moroder” and ends with the ever-infectious “Call Me” by Blondie. Saturday of Voodoo will be a night full of legends, so it’ll be fascinating to hear how Ozzy Osbourne’s demonic howls battle  against Mororder’s angelic beats  throughout the night. —Joey Laura

Breaking on to the scene in the late 2000s, Santigold was so often compared to M.I.A. that it might have been hard for a casual observer to remember who was who. But aside from their obvious shared identifier as women of color, I never saw that  much overlap. While M.I.A. leaned  heavily to the electro-rap side of the spectrum, Santigold’s work deftly mixes rap and pop styles, with a real focus on accessibility and danceability. With only two albums under her belt (and the most recent one more than three  years old) Santigold has focused more in the last few years on co-writing and collaborating with other artists. I’m interested to see if her show has any special guests or if we’ll hear some versions of those collaborative songs in addition to her album material. Either way, it should be a great place to get in some dancing away from the wubadubdub of the electronic tent. —Erin Hall

Just as punk and new-wave were solidifying their sounds, three albums  (Public Image Ltd’s First Issue, Wire’s Chairs Missing, and The Pop Group’s Y) helped establish a major turning point  in rock’n’roll: the thrilling development of the post-punk sound. It’s like free- jazz for rock aesthetes, a rollicking stylistic and lyrical free-for-all that digs deeper into the ego and the id of the punk psyche than ever before. While PiL’s first album features clear seedlings of the distorted noise-rhythm of The Melvins and bass-central riffs of Echo And The Bunnymen, the band achieved something wholly singular with their follow up, Second Edition, which pushed the limits of dub reggae’s rhythms, reverb-heavy vocals, and screams (see The Upsetter’s Return of the Super Ape for influence)  into unexplored musical territory. Throughout the 1980s, PiL did their version of ska and dance music, eventually featuring a raucous wall-of-sound design on Album. A PiL gig in Glasgow last week featured four songs each from Second Edition and 2015’s What the World Needs Now… and at least a few songs from each record  except 1981’s The Flowers of Romance, one of their most dynamic albums to date. But who knows what they’ll end up performing? With Lydon at the helm, we should expect Anarchy in the Oaks. —Joey Laura

Girl Talk

Girl Talk

Technically, it’s an Ozzy Osbourne show, but he’s bringing old friends  and new minions to back him up: Black Sabbath’s bass maestro Geezer Butler, Tom Morello—the fight-the- good-fight guitarist from Rage Against the Machine—and Slash, the bushy millinery enthusiast and lead guitar  player from Guns N’ Roses. You’ll see half of Black Sabbath play songs like “War Pigs” and “Sweet Leaf,” while two well-known noodlers inject more menace and doom in their sonic repertoire. During Ozzy’s solo material, Slash and Morello will have more room to breathe and melt a few faces with homages to the late Randy Rhoads, while Butler steps back and holds down the low end like he’s done for almost 50 years. Big radio hits and stadium jams like “Mama I’m Coming Home” and “Crazy Train” might be given new life by two guitar players who should relish the opportunity to play songs they no doubt grew up idolizing. That the Prince of Darkness’ infernal hootenanny takes place on Halloween is a treat. Who knows what might appear while Ozzy wails about being the “chosen one” during “Black Sabbath?”  Besides, what other night is more appropriate to stand in a large field, sing “Bark At the Moon,” and count  Slash costumes? Soon after, Black Sabbath will at long-last hang it up under sad circumstances and Ozzy will turn back to recording new solo albums. This might be a rare opportunity to see massive international music brands  have a little fun while they work. —Andrew Mullins, III



The 22-year old Chicago native  adds the Voodoo Music Festival to his impressive list of performances alongside Lollapalooza, ACL, and Pitchfork festivals. His career launched after his second mixtape, Acid Rain, put him on the map in 2013, along with Complex magazine naming him one of Chicago’s “hottest rappers to watch out for.” He also gained attention from Forbes after they put his mixtape, #10Day, in their “Cheap Tunes” column. Chance has since collaborated with Justin Bieber on the song “Confident,” on Bieber’s Journals album, and he gained a coveted spot on the Freshman Class cover for XXL hip-hop magazine in 2014. For those of you unfamiliar with Chance’s music, he’s stated in interviews that Kanye West, James Brown, Prince, among others, molded the style and flow in his fusion of rapped and sung lyrics. With an impressive stash of songs, fans can expect a medley of Chance’s popular tracks along with the underground material that brought him to the spotlight. —Morgan Lawrence



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