Nov 5, 201309:36 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
Voodoo Fest and the World of Music Festivals, According to Annie
Over the weekend I was able to procure myself a wristband for Voodoo Fest because, come hell or high water, I was going to that Nine Inch Nails show. It was the first time the group played in New Orleans since I moved down here in 2009 and I was determined to be in that audience watching Trent Reznor perform decked out in leather from head to toe. Last weekend was the seventh time I had seen Nine Inch Nails. (It would have been No. 8 if my parents would have let me go with them to the tour the group played with David Bowie, but I was too young, apparently. My parents came home from the show bewildered, expecting Bowie to play "Changes" and "China Girl," but they got his industrial phase instead. Ha! Served them right.)
Anyways, seven times isn't exactly "superfan" status, but I always try to go when Nine Inch Nails comes around my city. The band is in the small list of bands I've followed since I was a wee lassie and seeing the group brings back good memories and flashbacks to certain stages in my life. High school, college, young-adulthood ... and to whatever it is that I am now.
Music festivals themselves are also an old love, though I've found myself growing weary with them. I'm just not as gung-ho about the shows as I used to be. When I was young, all that was needed to get me to a show was a band with a great single playing on Columbus, Ohio's local alternative radio station. These days I need a lot more than that, either a phenomenal current album or several good ones under their belt for me to spend $40 on a ticket. And as for the festivals, I have to really want it. Like in order to get me back to Bonnaroo and that blistering Tennessee summer heat, Led Zeppelin would probably have to get back together and headline, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.
A lot has changed since my first H.O.R.D.E. Fest (remember those?) and Lollapalooza. Here are some other priorities that have evolved for me over the years:
Concert memorabilia: I can't tell you how much money I've wasted on concert T-shirts and hippie jewelry that I never really wore. There were only two shirts that I would actually wear, a Cranberries and Phish shirt because they were strangely comfortable. All that stuff looks cool at the merch tent, but usually your life can go on just fine without all that. Another reason why I pass is because I just don't want to carry that stuff around with me all day.
Drinking: I don't care about drinking that much anymore because of a few reasons. For one, I don't like having to use the ladies' room throughout the whole show, especially if the only option is a Porta Potty. This is why I don't drink at Jazz Fest. Is there anything worse than one of those things baking in the sun all day? It might not be all that bad for a guy but it really sucks for a girl. They can be traumatizing. Another reason I don't drink a lot is because I like to remember what I've seen. There's a Cake show and a Spoon show that I have no recollection of and it sucks because I paid a lot of money to not remember much of the music and to feel like shit the next day. Also, drinks are so expensive at these functions, especially the festivals, that I just can't see the point. I spent $9 on a tall can at Voodoo and $7 for a weak-ass Hurricane. Right before Nine Inch Nails went on stage I got a Red Bull and Vodka and I'm too embarrassed to admit what I paid for it. But hey, YOLO!
Attire: Concerts used to be a fashion show for my friends and me, so it was cute to watch all the groups of young girls at Voodoo do the same thing we used to do: trying to look cool while seeming as if you're not trying at all. It's a delicate balance and a hard thing to pull off. For my first Nine Inch Nails show, my best friend and I went corset shopping. For this one I wore jeans, comfy shoes and, since it was chilly, a cozy sweater. Hell, even Trent Reznor was wearing a sensible scarf.
Front row: I'd rather not be in front anymore at festivals. I don't want to be in the back either, but being up front is pointless. You are constantly fighting the crowd so you're not enjoying the music. No one cares that you camped out for that spot all day, people will just rush the stage when the band goes on and push their way through. It's not worth it. These days I like to be in the middle, off to the right, so that there's some room to move and groove to the music.
Weather and camping: Like I said before, it would take the Second Coming to get me to a summer camping festival. I've been to enough. And truth be told, I'm just not that into camping. I'm over that phase in my life where I try to fit in with my hippie friends by forcing myself into thinking that I enjoy being dirty and drunk for several days and that sleeping on the ground is good for my lower chakras. Whatever, I like beds and air conditioning and showers and I'm willing to admit that.
The great thing about Voodoo was that it was perfect for my ever-growing criteria for festival-going. It's in my city so I don't have to pay an arm and a leg for travel expenses on top of the price of a ticket. All I had to do was go down Esplanade to City Park. Also, it's in the fall so it's not insanely hot but also not freezing cold. Another thing is that while Jazz Fest is amazing, it's also maddeningly crowded. Voodoo is not like that, plus it's held in a huge park so there is shade everywhere. It's just so nice. What a gorgeous day/night it was! Sign me up for next year!