If you experience a bit of deja Voodoo in City Park this weekend, you won't be alone.
The 2017 Voodoo Experience, running Friday through Sunday at the City Park Festival Grounds, will adhere to the same basic blueprint as last year's festival.
And that's a good thing.
The 2016 Voodoo was a success on all fronts — the redesigned layout, look and logistics of the site, the programming, the attendance, even the weather. The festival, with its 65 acts spread across three days and four stages, will be built essentially the same way this year.
The daily schedule for the 2017 Voodoo Fest is out, and single-day tickets are now on sale.
And this weekend's headliners check the same boxes, on the same nights, as last year's.
The opening Friday night headlining slot showcases Voodoo's rap/R&B star. In 2016, it was The Weeknd. This year, the Friday slot goes to Kendrick Lamar.
The biggest, and likely loudest, rock band will once again close out Saturday. In 2016, it was Tool. This Saturday, it's the Foo Fighters.
And the final slot on the final night will feature a more alternative rock band. Last year, it was Arcade Fire. This year, the festival closes out Sunday with the Killers.
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Meanwhile, the Le Plur electronic dance music stage will exist as its own festival-within-a-festival, a nonstop sensory overload of flashing lights, booming bass and precisely timed drops.
Last year was the first Voodoo staged under the auspices of C3 Presents, the Austin-based concert and festival producer that oversees some of the most popular and acclaimed festivals in the country, including Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza.
Live Nation Entertainment bought a majority stake in Voodoo from founder Steve Rehage in 2013. Following the 2015 Voodoo, he and Live Nation parted ways. The company subsequently assigned management of Voodoo to C3 Presents, another of its acquisitions.
C3 retained and promoted longtime Rehage lieutenants Sig Greenebaum and Don Kelly as co-directors of Voodoo. Under their stewardship, total attendance in 2016 hit 150,000, up significantly over previous years. The festival also earned high marks for improving the overall customer experience.
Greenebaum resigned earlier this year to oversee global live events for Overwatch League, a professional e-sports league. Kelly is now Voodoo's director.
The mindset going into 2017, he said, was, “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; the layout will be essentially the same. Le Plur will again face City Park’s interior so as not to pump its bass at the other stages.
The hugely popular “vac toilets” — toilets that flush via a vacuum system — will be on duty again this weekend. They’re more expensive to lease than portalets, Kelly said, but “are worth every extra dollar.”
Voodoo also will implement an innovation from other C3-produced festivals: selling merchandise in an enclosed, climate-controlled, retail store-like setting instead of from a booth.
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, 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 recent history with New Orleans. In May 2014, Dave Grohl and his bandmates spent a week based at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter while shooting an episode of the HBO series “Foo Fighters Sonic Highways." They returned that fall to headline the 2014 Voodoo Fest, then came back yet again three weeks later for a gig at the House of Blues.
This time around, the band is promoting its ninth studio album, "Concrete and Gold," which dropped in September following the release of the fast, heavy single “Run.”
The Killers have apparently not performed in New Orleans since an early afternoon set at the 2004 Voodoo Fest. They released their fifth album, "Wonderful Wonderful," in September; it features the groovy single "The Man."
Lamar ranks among the hottest stars in popular music. In April, his fourth studio album, “Damn,” entered the Billboard chart at No. 1. In August, he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, billed as the "greatest rapper alive."
Beyond the headliners, the Voodoo roster is peppered with an eclectic array of acts (but very little New Orleans music). Those offerings include the reformed LCD Soundsystem, alternative R&B singer Miguel, acoustic rockers the Head and the Heart, modern rock band the Afghan Whigs, and Prophets of Rage, which features three members of Rage Against the Machine plus Chuck D, of Public Enemy, and B-Real, of Cypress Hill.
Together, they'll aspire to make this year's 19th Voodoo as good as the 18th.
Go to voodoofestival.com for more info.
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