PHOTO BY CHARLES REAGAN HACKLEMAN/VOODOO
The Skeleton Krewe paraded Voodoo festival grounds Oct. 28.
As soon as the sun left New Orleans City Park Oct. 28, costumes were traded for jackets and sweaters as temperatures started to dip into the 50s. The bands onstage also felt the weather change — Whitney passed around a bottle of Jameson for warmth, and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl did everything in his power to warm up the crowd within a frantic 90-minute set.
Extremely eyebrowed Ed Kowalczyk of Live opened the main Altar stage’s accidental ‘90s and 2000s revival showcase that started with Live hits like “All Over You” and “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes” before reformed post-emo band Brand New’s dramatic quiet-loud set. Foo Fighters closed out the stage relying on a festival-approved, hit-filled set that telegraphed the band’s classic status ambitions.
On the South Course stage at sunset, Whitney did its best The Band impression with singer and drummer Julien Ehrlich joking around with the crowd between its folk-inspired pop songs, surrounded by rolling piano, slide guitar, trumpet and a Mellotron-emulating keyboard building bittersweet layers over Ehrlich’s falsetto.
The band sneaked in pitch perfect covers of Neil Young’s “On the Way Home” and Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” each using the same palette Whitney built on its acclaimed Light Upon the Lake.
Brand New flailed onstage through fog machines and around bouquets wrapped around each microphone stand, which singer and guitarist Jesse Lacey ceremoniously ripped off and tossed into the crowd as feedback droned over pummeling drums on its closing coda “You Won’t Know.”
It was a surprising return from its underwhelming set on a weirdly hot day at Voodoo in 2009. Here, in the dark, the band built its set around drama — tension and release and a creeping urgency cutting through the fog machines.
Its tight 11-song set relied on a heavy quiet-loud dynamic, no longer a snapshot of the band’s post-hardcore from its earlier albums but a confident vision of itself in 2017, all explosive highs and sinking, slithering lows a la Pixies and Nirvana, with a dense wall of sound with three overdriven guitars. Guitarist Vincent Accardi played barefoot as his cascading mop of hair appeared to drag him around onstage across its three large persian rugs.
PHOTO BY JORDAN HEFLER/VOODOO
Brand New was among the headliners at Voodoo Fest Oct. 28
Songs from 2003’s emo powerhouse Deja Entendu
— “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” and “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” — were transformed into moody hardcore punk. The band’s 2017 release Science Fiction
was the star, bookending the set with “451” and the “Heart Shaped Box”-y “137.”
Perennial festival band Foo Fighters — forging itself a place in the current “important rock band” pantheon, even selling T-shirts that look like they could’ve been pulled from a Boston tour, and recently adding a full-time keyboardist — barreled through an unsurprising but necessary set to warm up a crowd standing in the cold.
Grohl lunged across the stage throughout, spitting into the mic and commanding the crowd to move. It was largely nothing they haven’t done a million times before, here playing against the cold and a clock, fitting it all into 90 minutes — “All My Life,” “Learn to Fly,” a riff-filled “The Pretender,” newcomer “The Sky Is a Neighborhood,” new classics like “My Hero” and fan favorite closer “Everlong.”
Foo Fighters has been here before, often, but the band isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Just make sure it’s still moving.