SELL YOUR SOUL (OR SAVE IT): ANTIGRAVITY PICKS FOR VOODOO 2016

Ghost/Charles Bradley (by AG staff)

From the disco-meets-devil worship of GHOST to the redemptive, soulful wails of Charles Bradley, this year’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience promises to be another religious experience among the majestic oaks of City Park. The lineup for 2016 is quite the congregation of spirits both good and evil. Here are our picks and prayers.


 
FRIDAY

G-EAZY
The Loyola University (New Orleans) graduate, formerly known as Gerald Gillum, has taken over the airwaves as rapper G-Eazy. A Bay Area native, G-Eazy started out producing music while he was a student here, before returning to his hometown of Oakland. He’s performed with numerous hiphop acts, gaining the most exposure via opening slots for Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg in 2010. He’s even earned a spot on a GQ “Best-Dressed Men” list. But don’t be fooled by G-Eazy’s suave appearance; he got bars too. His first chart topper, “Me, Myself, and I,” as well as “Drifting” (with Chris Brown and fellow Voodoo fest performer, Torey Lanez), has earned him mainstream appeal. With the success of his first major label album, These Things Happen, he’s gotten to perform at major festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Made In America, and now Voodoo. G-Eazy is poised to dominate the world of music, fashion, and Man Crush Mondays. —Morgan Lawrence

SERATONES
Lead by petite powerhouse vocalist AJ Haynes, Seratones have made quick work of getting their name out there, garnering praise from media outlets (both Paste and NPR have doted on them), and landing a three-album deal with Mississippi blues-rock label Fat From the disco-meets-devil worship of GHOST to the redemptive, soulful wails of Charles Bradley, this year’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience promises to be another religious experience among the majestic oaks of City Park. The lineup for 2016 is quite the congregation of spirits both good and evil. Here are our picks and prayers. Possum. Their debut album, Get Gone, hit in May of this year, so expect this set to be heavy on that material. The foursome met while attending punk shows in the Shreveport area, but don’t expect to hear too much of that in their sound (aside from a touch of general preen and strut). They deal mostly in classic garage rock, driven by powerhouse riffs and booming basslines, punctuated with Haynes’ big, throaty vocals. Like many singers in the South, Haynes honed her chops singing in church as a child. The easy/ lazy comparison to Alabama Shakes has been made, but it’s not really on point. Where the Shakes revel in weaving rock with neo-soul and deep blues vibes, Seratones are living for that gritty garage sound. So swing by and support these (sorta) hometown kids on their way to the top. —Erin Hall

KEVIN GATES
Baton Rouge native Kevin Gates recently broke into another stratosphere with “2 Phones,” creating a mega-hit that showcased his distinctive sing-rap style, framed in a street rap sensibility. But Gates is no stranger to the mainstream: both of his recent albums, Stranger Than Fiction and By Any Means, made it to Billboard’s top 40. This year’s money-backed album, Islah, debuted in January to good reviews—the type that praised his willingness to be sensitive and exposed, all-the-while recognizing that his experience has been, thus far, a life hard lived. SPIN called Gates an “outlaw poet” and he is that, to be sure, as well as mercurial, strange, enigmatic, funny, powerful, contradictory. Starting about a decade ago, Gates came to fill the void left in Baton Rouge when Boosie was sent to Angola. This may have helped him initially, but he has coasted since on the weight of his own merit. Gates is a non-commercial artist operating in the mainstream, with a consistent underground aesthetic and authenticity that has made loyal fans remain by his side long after leaving the streets. —Holly Hobbs

THE WEEKND
Last time The Weeknd came to New Orleans, it was 2012 at the House of Blues, when he was known as the voice without a face. Or better yet, Abęl Tesfaye wasn’t known at all, except to his day-one fans. Along with no social media presence, his erotic, yet angelic voice was just as mysterious as his persona. In 2011, the Toronto-based singer used his three game-changing mixtapes—House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence—as his mask until he took the stage. Fellow Toronto native Drake helped him gain more exposure with their song “Crew Love” on Drake’s album, Take Care. Now, The Weeknd’s hauntingly sexy voice has reached the masses with his monster hit song, “Can’t Feel My Face,” as well as an Oscar-nominated song from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, “Earned It.” His velvety smooth voice and dirty lyrics resurrect the spirit of Michael Jackson, melded with the raunchiness of R. Kelly. In other words, The Weeknd embodies the phrase, It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Morgan Lawrence

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The Chainsmokers (by Josh Brasted).

 

SATURDAY

SHAKEY GRAVES
Alejandro Rose-Garcia, best known as Shakey Graves, is a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas. Signed to Dualtone Records, Graves is largely considered to be in the Americana wheelhouse alongside artists like Shovels & Rope, Sturgill Simpson, and Jason Isbell. In the early years of his career, Graves became well known for his one-manband setup, but has since incorporated regular accompanists both live and in the studio. After hitting the late-night circuit and racking up festival slots, he is slowly but surely making his presence known to the world. I first saw Shakey Graves at Hangout Fest a few years ago and will never forget how arresting he was as a performer. God bless the guy, they had stuck him on this tiny stage with virtually no cover in the middle of an asphalt parking lot. It was approximately 275 degrees, and yet a crowd quickly gathered and stood there for an hour, transfixed and profusely sweating. Hopefully there will always be a place in the music world for good old-fashioned, ear-catching talent like that. —Erin Hall

DJ MUSTARD
Dijon McFarlane’s signature tag “Mustard on the beat, h@3,!” made his tracks stand out immediately. The Los Angeles-based producer and songwriter is behind most of the biggest radio hits for hip-hop and R&B giants, like Rihanna, 2 Chainz, Chris Brown, Will.i.am, Wiz Khalifa, Drake, Big Sean, and Jamie Foxx—just to barely scratch the surface. DJ Mustard’s latest album, 10 Summers, embodies his goal to make hot records for ten consecutive summers. McFarlane got his start at 11 years old when his uncle let him DJ a family function. The now 25-yearold exploded behind the scenes with rapper Tyga’s record, Rack City in 2011, which went double platinum. Since then, he’s produced dozens of records like 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different” and “No Lie,” along with Rihanna’s radio-ravaging single, “Needed Me.” With the company of fellow producers like Mike WiLL Made-It, DJ Khaled, and Metro Boomin, DJ Mustard has dominated behind the scenes and now on stage as well. —Morgan Lawrence

TOOL
Even with zero new material in nearly a decade, Tool continues to be at the top of the live show wish list. So when the most revered-but-elusive rock band in the world plays your town twice in the same year, you go. Saturday night, a fevered fan base will once again be treated to the band’s own brand of dark prog-rock psychedelia, coupled with the mind-bending stage visuals of Alex Grey and guitarist Adam Jones. Fans will be more than happy to listen to the band rip through classics from Opiate to 10,000 Days (and maybe even Led Zepplin’s “No Quarter”), but will also be hoping to get a glimpse of new material. As we have seen before, singer Maynard James Keenan will likely disappear into a shadowy background for the duration of the show in order to showcase the incredible musicians surrounding him. When I saw them in January at the New Orleans Arena, my close stage proximity fostered a new appreciation for the way bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey play together. Not only were they visibly having a blast, they were probably the most fluid rhythm section I have ever seen in my life. —Kevin Comarda

GHOST
While last year featured a senior citizen who claimed to be the Prince of Darkness, Voodoo gets the real deal this year. It’s GHOST, everybody’s favorite polite-as-fuck Swedish Satanic Cult and its anointed leader, Papa Emeritus the III! Papa and the Nameless Ghouls released their debut album in 2010 and won the attention of metal fans for their melodic vocals and polished, yet somehow still heavy sound. The follow-up albums, 2013’s Infitessimaum and last year’s Meliora, display an odd maturity for a poppy-metal band obsessed with Satan and matching costumes. The music is just as much a collage of influences as their Satanism is a collage of occult and political philosophies. Ghost has already visited New Orleans twice at the Civic Theatre, and Papa Emeritus said he was impressed with the crowd and the heat. Let’s see how he holds up outside in Louisiana’s October humidity. Their live shows are incredible, the songs are simply infectious, and combining the two in the swamp fog of City Park is too good of a tableaux to miss. —Andrew Mullins, III

DIE ANTWOORD
When you think about it, Die Antwoord are kind of like the South African White Stripes of old. The two bands have nothing in common musically, but both get/got a kick out of confusing people when it comes to the truth behind their “story.” Are they brother and sister? Are they lovers? Are they crazy? What’s the deal? We’ll probably never know what’s really going on with Ninja and Yolandi Visser, and who cares, anyway? Gossip is for losers. What’s important here is that Die Antwoord create music that doesn’t sound like anything else in this world, and they put on a fantastic show. You’ll most likely embarrass yourself dancing during their set while lip-syncing lyrics like “I love rockin’ your ass like a ninja mask,” and come away thankful that the rumors of them disbanding were just another crumb in the mysterious crumb pile that is Die Antwoord. —Kelly McClure

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Anderson .Paak (by Brandt Vicknair)

 

SUNDAY

BOB MOSES
Even though they didn’t know each other well at the time, Vancouver natives Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance went to high school together. As they tell the tale, they were both in separate punk/rock bands respectively before trying their hands—separately— in the trance and singer-songwriter genres. Years later, Howie and Vallance would run into each other again in New York and begin to informally collaborate. The result would be the best of both worlds: a trance framework and a singer-songwriter aesthetic that would appeal to a wide swath of listeners. Their debut EP came out in October 2012, followed by 2014’s lush Far From the Tree. With help from Dutch mega-producer Matthew DeKay and others, in the last two years they’ve reached new heights of success, aided by extended play on BBC Radio 1. Summer 2016 saw the release of Days Gone By: Never Enough Edition, featuring songs that provide a strong lyrical and melodic foundation to a musical style that can tend toward jam band excess. Their restrained sound creates a feeling of intimacy that works in headphones, small clubs, and megafestivals alike. —Holly Hobbs

CHARLES BRADLEY & HIS EXTRAORDINAIRES
Charles Bradley has quite the backstory. A musician of some stripe since the 1960s, Bradley really hit his stride in the last five years after signing with Daptone records. A documentary, Soul of America, was even made about his late-in-life ascent. His sound, as you might expect, is pure 60s soul— all aching desperation and heaving sweat. From his teen years living on the streets and sleeping on subway cars, to time working as a cook by day and a James Brown impersonator by night, Bradley has been relentless in his determination to express himself through music, regardless of whether anyone was taking notice. —Erin Hall

THE CHAINSMOKERS
This EDM, DJ duo is comprised of New York natives Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. You may have heard them on the radio every 20 minutes with songs like “Don’t Let Me Down” (featuring Daya), along with their dance smash “Roses.” The boys recently killed it at MTV’s Video Music Awards, performing their new song, “Closer” (featuring Halsey). Together since 2012, Taggart and Pall began their careers producing remixes for indie bands. They even produced a song for Quantico actress, Priyanka Chopra, called “Erase.” To further shape their sound, the duo produced remixes to Steve Aoki and Fall Out Boy’s “Back to Earth;” Ellie Goulding’s “Goodness Gracious;” and The Killers’ “Miss Atomic Bomb,” to name a few. Their careers catapulted in 2014 with the insanely catchy song, “#SELFIE.” Today, with their debut EP, Bouquet, dozens of remixes, and no album to date, the Chainsmokers are on their way to becoming household names alongside the likes of Disclosure and Jack Ü. —Morgan Lawrence

ANDERSON .PAAK
Anderson .Paak paints his music with colors. 2016’s Malibu, which was one of those rare records that comes along every once in awhile and shapes a year, should not be consumed by listening to individual songs. Rather, only by taking in the full album in one sitting can one begin to understand where musician/producer .Paak is coming from. Melding disparate influences from a multitude of genres, .Paak’s own lush, intensely melodic, yet percussion-based sound is an R&B/funk/soul oeuvre that plays just as much visually as it does aurally. The California-raised virtuoso had performed under a different moniker until the release of 2014’s Venice, followed the next year by appearing on six songs on Dr. Dre’s Compton. .Paak has said that Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was a pivotal album, a map that provided a key to a new level of hip-hop beyond rapping. As one half of the Los Angeles-based duo NxWorries (along with producer Knxledge), their new project Yes Lawd! is set to release right in time for Voodoo Fest. —Holly Hobbs

ARCADE FIRE
When the Grammy-winning Arcade Fire played Jazz Fest in 2011 and then again in 2014 as a part of their massive Reflektor tour, I couldn’t help feel that New Orleans was partially robbed of the full-bodied, disco-heavy party experience that typically characterizes an Arcade Fire night show. In fact, they haven’t played a night show in New Orleans since 2005 at House of Blues. Let that sink in for a moment. In the decade since, the band’s founding power-couple (Régine Chassagne and Win Butler) decided to make our quirky community their new home. So when the sun goes down on Sunday night, I expect our newest local, arena-sized rockers to make up for lost time. Fans should anticipate a wide range of cuts, from “Haiti,” “No Cars Go,” and “We Used to Wait,” to the more current and socially conscious “We Exist” and “Reflektor.” The band themselves are playfully hoping to “make people shake their ass with a tear in their eye.” But when the disco ball is hoisted and “Afterlife” comes stomping through, you probably won’t have a choice in the matter anyway. —Kevin Comarda

The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience takes place October 28 through 30 in City Park. For more info, check out voodoofestival.com
 

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