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 Sunday.
Portugal. The Man: Le Carnival Bingo! Parlor, 4:45PM
Since forming out of the ashes of Alaska’s nascent early-2000s screamo scene, Portland-by-way-of-Wasilla space rockers Portugal. The Man have long enjoyed the enviable distinction as a true critical darling (as well as the devoted, cult-like fanbase with which such a distinction usually coincides), the product of a steady diet of prolific studio production and relentless touring. The band has expanded the very definition of modern psychedelia, dropping a masterwork of intergalactic prog rock on an almost annual basis and developing a battle-tested virtuostic live show that has become the stuff of indie-rock legend. But with their latest magnum opus, July’s In The Mountain In The Cloud, Portugal. The Man is finally enjoying their long-overdue breakout as true champions of alternative rock: Released in the midst of a Sherman-like march through the summer festival circuit – complete with showstopping sets at Bonnaroo, Hangout and Lollapalooza – the album quickly scaled the college radio charts and has remained there for the better part of the last three months.
In a live setting, Portugal. The Man has a nearly unlimited bag of tricks and effortlessly shows off the wide-ranging chops their diverse and experimental catalog requires: Lead singer John Gourley stretches his voice to the top of his uncannily high register without even breaking a sweat, bassist Zack Carothers leads the fearless rhythm section through the funky, extended jams that intermittently swirl up during each set and keyboardist Ryan Neighbors creates a wall of stylized synth that sounds like it’s the work of a dozen men.
Mannie Fresh: Le Plur Red Bulletin, 2:30PM
Of every DJ taking the stage this weekend at Voodoo, Mannie Fresh has to be the unanimous hometown hero. A hip hop beat guru and formerly half of local bounce rap duo Big Tymers, Fresh has continued to call New Orleans his home since he left Cash Money Records in 2005 on less than amicable terms, now spending most of his time seeking out undiscovered talent and providing production work for some of the country’s most sought-after rappers from Young Jeezy to T.I. to Gucci Mane.
What has always set Mannie Fresh apart not just from his Cash Money counterparts but from every other artist from rap’s Bling Era – aside from the fact that, having been lead songwriter, producer and recording engineer on nearly every song released by Cash Money between the years 1993 and 2005, he’s probably the most hardworking person in the business – is the endearing degree of levity he can bring to a track as well has his ability to temper any overwrought big talk with an almost absurdist comedic timing, whether with his trademark spoken word introductions and interludes, his outrageous descriptions of car interiors, his constant touts of perfect Steve Harvey lining, or his purported ban on anyone with more than 12 tattoos (Lil’ Wayne) appearing on The Mind of Mannie Fresh.
In a live setting these days, Mannie is known to jump relentlessly back and forth between microphone and turntables, rapping his own classics and spinning a slew of other choice breaks – ranging from head-splitting dubstep to transcendent big beat to surprisingly sugary dance pop.