Dave Grohl is coming home for the 2017 Voodoo Festival.
He and his fellow Foo Fighters took up residency in New Orleans for a week in the spring of 2014. One of the world's most popular rock bands, Foo Fighters also played three shows in town that year. Grohl subsequently gushed about his Big Easy adventure.
Foo Fighters were announced Tuesday as a headliner of the 2017 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. They'll join Kendrick Lamar, the Killers and LCD Soundsystem at the City Park Festival Grounds over Halloween weekend, Oct. 27-29.
The roster of more than 70 acts also includes the Head and the Heart, Miguel, DJ Snake, Cold War Kids, Brand New, the Afghan Whigs, Galantis, Charles Bradley and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.
Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. A three-day general admission pass is $140 plus taxes and fees, the same price as 2016.
Although it is the 19th Voodoo Fest overall, this is only the second edition curated by C3 Presents, the Live Nation Entertainment subsidiary that also produces the Austin City Limits Festival in Texas and Lollapalooza in Chicago. Voodoo founder Stephen Rehage is no longer involved.
Don Kelly and Sig Greenebaum, two holdovers from the Rehage years, are Voodoo’s co-directors. In 2016, their first year in charge, they enjoyed picture-perfect weather for headliners The Weeknd, Tool and Arcade Fire. Total attendance was 150,000, a sizable jump from previous years.
The mindset going into 2017, Kelly said, is, “How can we take what we did last year that was successful and improve on it? We’re not going to sit on our laurels.”
Changes to the stage configuration in 2016 greatly reduced sound bleed among the stages; the layout this year will be essentially the same.
The hugely popular “vac toilets” — toilets that flush via a vacuum system — will return in 2017. They’re more expensive to lease than portalets, Kelly said, but “are worth every extra dollar.”
The improved restroom experience generated considerable goodwill last year. “The No. 1 pain point of any festival is the bathrooms,” Greenebaum said. “For people to talk about the bathrooms being a great part of Voodoo — that’s a win.”
They’ll also implement an innovation from other C3-produced festivals: selling merchandise in an enclosed, climate-controlled, retail store-like setting instead of from a booth where customers, as Greenebaum described it, must “squint their eyes and say, ‘Can I see No. 10?’ ”
The creative team from the Mortuary haunted house will once again build a haunted graveyard on the Voodoo site. The carnival rides will be back again, as will the colorful flag motif that dressed up the grounds. The popular Brew Dat craft beer tent will be expanded.
Such niceties aside, a festival is largely defined by its headliners.
Foo Fighters have an extensive history with New Orleans, including an especially sweaty set at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
In May 2014, Grohl and his bandmates spent a week based at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter while shooting an episode of “Foo Fighters Sonic Highways,” an HBO series that chronicled the making of the “Sonic Highways” album in eight cities with rich musical histories. The week culminated with a surprise show at Preservation Hall that briefly shut down St. Peter Street.
They returned that fall to headline the 2014 Voodoo Fest; Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews joined them onstage. They came back yet again three weeks later for a gig at the House of Blues on Nov. 21, the same night the New Orleans “Sonic Highways” episode premiered on HBO.
Foo Fighters will likely release a new album by the fall. The first single is a fast, heavy song called “Run.” The accompanying video depicts the musicians as old men rocking out in a retirement home.
Voodoo actively pursued Foo Fighters as a 2017 headliner. “They were interested right off the bat,” Kelly said. “The interest was mutual.”
The Killers have apparently not performed in New Orleans since an early afternoon set at the 2004 Voodoo Fest. The band’s most recent album was 2012’s “Battle Born,” but “Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young,” “Human” and other older singles have remained staples of alternative rock radio. A new Killers album is reportedly slated for a fall release.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar is among the hottest stars in popular music. He headlined the 2015 and 2016 Essence Festivals in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In April, he extended his hot streak with his fourth studio album, “Damn,” which entered the Billboard chart at No. 1 and has sold more than 1 million copies.
Led by James Murphy, the Brooklyn-born LCD Soundsystem successfully fused electronic music and rock in the mid-2000s. The band staged a farewell concert at Madison Square Garden in April 2011, only to regroup five years later and headline Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands and other major festivals.
LCD Soundsystem has premiered several new songs in 2017, with a full album reportedly due later this year. The band's booking for the 2017 Voodoo was confirmed only hours before the schedule was released early Tuesday morning.
Kelly is especially excited about the modern rock band Afghan Whigs. Though founded in Cincinnati, the band has close ties to New Orleans. Singer Greg Dulli has lived in the city part time for years, and guitarist Dave Rosser is a full-time resident. “I think of them like a New Orleans band now,” Kelly said.
Soul/blues singer Charles Bradley was forced to cancel his scheduled 2016 Voodoo Fest performance to undergo treatment for cancer. “We made him an offer (for 2017) the day he canceled,” Greenebaum said. “We’re really excited that he’s coming back.”
Le Plur, the electronic dance music stage at the northwest corner of the festival site, will again face City Park’s interior so as not to pump its bass at the other stages.
New Orleans on Halloween weekend has become a destination for EDM fans from around the country. “There is a portion of our audience that comes every year exclusively for that,” Kelly said.
A three-day LOA VIP pass is $400 plus fees. Amenities include access to a lounge and a raised viewing platform near the main Altar stage, complimentary hot shaves for men, massages and face-painting, and an express entrance line.
New this year is a premium “platinum” ticket. For $1,050, purchasers receive all the amenities of an LOA VIP pass, plus catered lunch and dinner, a complimentary open bar, priority viewing areas in front of the stages, shuttle service between stages and free on-site parking.
Another new offering this year is “Feast Under the Stars,” a chef-curated, five-course dinner with wine pairings at the Voodoo site on Thursday, Oct. 26, the night before the festival opens. Tickets are $130 per person.
Go to the festival’s web site, voodoofestival.com, for more details.
The complete list of confirmed acts for the 2017 Voodoo Experience includes:
Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, the Killers, LCD Soundsystem, DJ Snake, Brand New, Galantis, Dillon Francis, the Head and the Heart, Kehlani, Post Malone, Miguel, RL Grim, Prophets of Rage, Cold War Kids, Yellow Claw, Crystal Castles, SuperDuperKyle, the Afghan Whigs, LIVE, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Marian Hill, K.Flay, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Illenium, Louis the Child, Whitney, the Black Angels, Amine, Nghtmre, Vintage Trouble, Gnash, G-Jones, Hayley Kiyoko, Rich Chigga, Bibi Bourelly, the Record Company, Benjamin Booker, Mija, Joyryde, Colony House, Chicano Batman, Strand of Oaks, Autograf, Flow Tribe, Boombox Cartel, Mondo Cozmo, SNBRN, TokiMonsta, Pell, CID, Black Pistol Fire, Saint Jhn, Sam Dew, Flint Eastwood, Pham, LA Femme, Ron Gallo, Durand Jones & the Indications, Manniquin Pussy, Public Access T.V., Bleached, Tim Gunter, DJ Mel, DJ Gracie, Malik Ninety Five, Alfred Banks, Carmine P. Filthy, Free Swim, Unicorn Fukr, Otto, Herb Christopher, S.K.B. & yrstrly, Werd2Jah and Zander.