There’s undoubtedly too much happening on any given day of Voodoo to talk about everything. Nevertheless, we figured it couldn’t hurt to tell you what performances we’re excited about. Here’s a few thoughts on a national and a local act that we are looking forward to on Saturday.
X: Le Carnival Bingo! Parlor, 7:00PM
The often dormant American tradition of disquieted musicianship whose minimalism and simplicity is tempered only by artists’ forthright and nuanced desperation – epitomized by acts like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Bob Dylan, and the Doors – was reignited in 1980 when X, a seminal California punk band, released their debut album Los Angeles with production and additional instrumentation from Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Right out of the gate the young group, having come up in the strange and gritty LA punk scene of the late 1970s, seemed to both perfectly embody the depraved disaffection of punk culture and possess the sort of singular charismatic potential that rock n’ roll legends are made of.
Over the next three years, X would put out three more Manzerek-helmed albums. In the process they’d diverge heavily from a punk continuum that would soon yield Hardcore, instead opting for an amalgam of art punk and Americana, and find themselves the object of widespread acclaim from mainstream rock critics; not only would their album Wild Gift later be considered one of the best punk records of all time, but – with the female/male vocal punch of Exene Cervenka & John Doe and the edgy chops of drummer DJ Bonebrake and guitarist Billy Zoom – X’s raw, desperation-drenched live show would be known as arguably the greatest of the era.
With that kind of history behind them, it’s without any irony that X’s appearance at Voodoo – consisting of all four original members recently reformed – will probably be the most special of any at the entire festival. Their presence on the intimate Bingo! Stage may be the best and only chance fans everywhere will have to witness an authentic representation of the unhinged and unsettling Americana punk of X.
Happy Talk Band: Le Carnival Bingo! Parlor, 2:00PM
The Voodoo Music Experience in general and the Bingo! Parlor stage in particular never seem to disappoint shred-heavy New Orleans locavores on the hunt for the city’s best rock music, but even Le Carnival’s sterling reputation couldn’t have prepared concert-goers for the can’t-miss block of heavy-hitters commandeering the stage for the better part of Saturday.
Are we suggesting you spend five hours camped at a small side stage exclusively rocking out to a set of bands that play dozens of shows in and around town in any given year? Not necessarily, as mid-set downtime provides plenty of opportunities to slip away to the main stage and catch the likes of Boots Electric, Mastadon and Social Distortion over the course of the day. But anyone who establishes an early residency at the Bingo! Parlor will be well-served by a diverse powerhouse of native thrashers appearing consecutively until the late afternoon. From the free-form garage gospel of R. Scully’s Rough 7 to the delicate Americana of Hurray For The Riff Raff to the mind-bending art-rock of greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs, Saturday at the Bingo! Parlor will be nothing short of a master class in seminal New Orleans indie-rock. But the real treat is sure to be alt-country institution Happy Talk Band, who show up at Voodoo on the crest of a year-long creative surge .
Unflinching troubador Luke Allen and Co. spent the summer tightening the screws on their extensive catalog of wretched lullabies and work-shopping dozens of fresh tragicomic cautionary tales, playing fast and loose with arrangements and pushing songs old and new into uncharted territory. At the rate they’ve been going, Happy Talk’s slot on the Bingo! stage is required viewing no matter how many neighborhood dives or back rooms you’ve seen them play this year.