CAMBRIA HARKEY / VOODOO
Cage The Elephant.
Voodoo's stages, and festival stages in general, often have a tough time getting rock bands to sound good, with too much bass and bass drum overpowering guitars and the songs themselves. There were some rough spots this year — RIP to the riffs in Ghost's fantastically garish Satanic theater — but more rock bands on Saturday's bill meant a likelihood of better sound.
Bully's abbreviated afternoon grunge worship exploded with its solid quiet-loud dynamic. Dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shakey Graves' wordless chorus wooing and foot-stomping, blues-enforced one man band was lit up (literally, with a flashing roadside motel sign bearing the band's name) with ecstatic, trebly riffs. And Cage the Elephant's rock 'n' roll posturing cranked considerable volume from the main Altar Stage, with frontman Matthew Schultz using up every inch of it, the pit in front of it, and the few rows of people in front of it, while miming a possessed Iggy Pop or Mick Jagger and intentionally flicking sweat off his stomach onto the arms of outreached hands.
And getting that seemingly simple sound construction right — guitar, bass, drums, vocals — was crucial for Tool. The band speaks its own language, a delicate, strange dance with Adam Jones' heavy atmospheric riffs and Danny Carey's enveloping polyrhythms. Maynard James Keenan — lurking in the shadows — weaved his voice through the band with either a haunting, ethereal hymn or sinister glee. With the dim stage lit only by strands of lights beaming from the catwalk, and both screens on either side of the stage turned off, getting the sound "right" was the only way to truly glimpse the band.
With rumors of an album forever stirring (the band's last release, 10,000 Days
was released 3,700 days ago), last night's Tool didn't bother adding to the mill. The band's appearance was its second in New Orleans this year. "Deja fucking vu," Keenan said. "Happy All Souls weekend."
The band's tight, no-time-wasted set spanned only nine songs, running through a short list of fan favorites — opening with the atmosphere-building "Third Eye" into Justin Chancellor's spider-y bass propelling "The Grudge" — followed by "Parabola," "Opiate" and "Aenema," later highlighted by "Jambi" and "Forty-Six and Two."
And that was essentially, without much surprise, the end of Tool's tour run in 2016. It may have been "deja vu" for a lot of returning Tool fans — many wearing the band's H.R. Giger-y phallic wrench T-shirts — but getting just a taste of the band in the flesh puts them closer to Tool's ongoing mystery and unlocking its secrets.