NEW ORLEANS — Sunday’s rich and varied music at the final day of the city’s annual Halloween weekend music festival, Voodoo Experience, included modern-rock star Jack White and his heavy band, the Raconteurs, and the classic rockers Cheap Trick.
Despite the big names, the day’s highlights at City Park included the spirit-lifting performance Givers gave at the WWOZ Stage.
Having grown up attending their hometown’s annual International Festival, members of this young band from Lafayette make complex yet seemingly effortless songs that mix Afro-pop, rock, shifting tempos and dramatic dynamic contrast into happy, shining music.
And given the group’s super-animated performance style, they surely burned more calories than any other Voodoo Experience act.
Givers, featuring singer-guitarist Taylor Guarisco and singer-percussionist-ukulele player Tiffany Lamson, continuously lobbed the equivalent of music bombs into the bouncing, often costumed crowd. A young woman wearing peacock feathers, for instance, couldn’t help but shake them.
The love was mutual.
“New Orleans,” Lamson said from behind her rack of percussion instruments, “this is the best day ever.”
Dr. John, a veteran of the first Voodoo Music Experience in 1999, was a natural choice for a return engagement this year for Voodoo No. 13. Sunday he resurrected his spooky Dr. John the Night Tripper persona with “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” and a few more supernaturally funky tunes.
He and his Lower 911 band also performed quintessentially New Orleans music at the WWOZ Stage, opening with the Mardi Gras Indians-inspired “Iko Iko.”
Special guests Walter “Wolfman” Washington (in a cherry red blues man suit), Irma Thomas and Cyril Neville joined the set and then gathered on stage for a finale of “Down By The Riverside.”
Starting shortly after Dr. John’s finish, the audience-engaging, ever clever Ray Davies performed songs from his solo career as well as Kinks classics. Davies didn’t let the fact that he was shot in the French Quarter in 2004 or an apparent financial dispute with the city’s other big paid-admission music festival stop him from delighting the crowd that showed up at the Preservation Hall Stage to dig his timeless songwriting.
Sunday morning Glen David Andrews and his band performed a characteristically New Orleans music set at the Preservation Hall Stage. Gospel, funk, jazz and rhythm-and-blues mixed freely in the high-energy performance.
“We gotta get everybody on the dance floor before we go home,” Andrews said.
Taking a break from singing, he also played trombone, boosting his band to a fat three-man horn section.
Sunday also included the Sheepdogs, a long-haired foursome from Canada who recently won Rolling Stone magazine’s “Choose The Cover” contest. The Sheepdogs defeated legions of competitors, including the runner-up, Lafayette native Lelia Broussard.
Inspired by classic and Southern rock, the Sheepdogs showed themselves worthy of a spot at this year’s Voodoo Experience thanks to their good guitar riffs, rootsy songs and the pleasing novelty of Allman Brothers-style harmony guitar leads and British invasionlike vocal harmonies.