The final day of the Voodoo Experience started pretty late for most festivalgoers, with very meager crowds lining some of the smaller stages as it hit slightly past noon in NoLa. A sizable number of folks didn't seem to filter in until Coheed and Cambria had hit the main stage at 4:30pm. By that time, the audience stretched in a packed bunch until front of house, lined with die-hard fans and folks aching to see what Coheed had brought to New Orleans.
For one, the band had two mannequins lackadaisically sitting on amplifiers; probably the only bored attendees present after Coheed began their set. Though their critically acclaimed album The Afterman: Ascension had been released just earlier this month, newer songs were only slightly touched upon. After a rousing rendition of one such new piece, “The Afterman,” the classics came out for a very appreciative audience. “Blood Red Summer” was spot on, while “A Favor House Atlantic” had been slowed and stripped down and made into a more introspective piece. The arrangement was engrossing in a way that made many stop whatever they were doing to experience the soundscape sweeping through Le Ritual. It was truly awe-inspiring.
Over at the Le Carnival stage, a lengthy soundcheck was holding up Tomahawk, whose fans could wait no longer. Sunday's performance marked just the second show in nine years for the band. They returned with a vengeance the night before at Nashville's Exit In and gave a better indication of what's to come for Tomahawk as they looked to the future with the forthcoming Oddfellows. Those who'd seen frontman Mike Patton in previous bands Faith No More and Mr. Bungle were in for a lower energy show when Tomahawk finally emerged. Patton mainly stood center stage, protected by a laptop, microphone, and speaker rig that occasionally obscured some of his dancing and thrashing which in itself was a rarity. Regardless of less stage antics, Tomahawk didn't miss a beat in their performance. Fans of all ages coalesced as the band played a catalog-spanning set that included quite a few new turnes, including “Oddfellows.” The eponymous track was dizzying in its scope and clearly enjoyable for Patton and co. You need not question them: Tomahawk are back.
After a heaping helping of Pho (there's a huge Vietnamese community in the greater New Orleans area and they sure know how to throw down) and some seafood monica pasta, it was back to the main stage for the often controversial, always entertaining Nas. Dressed in a gray New Orleans sweatshirt and with a backwards Yankees cap atop his head, it was clear that the impending hurricane that's set to hit the East Coast was weighing heavily on the Queens rapper's mind. That sense of foreboding gave way to a heartfelt performance of many tracks from his breakthrough Illmatic album, including a powerful rendition of “NY State of Mind.” “It Ain't Hard To Tell” took the edge of a very serious Nas, who smiled at the clever reworking of Michael Jackson's “Human Nature,” a staple of the song and one of its most memorable hooks. “One Mic” was played with a thoughtfulness meant to be a rallying cry that most definitely succeeded in its message.
While dubsteppers were enjoying a pyro show at Skrillex, the clock was winding down to Sunday's headliner and festival closer Jack White. The many suit-clad men zig-zagging across the stage to tune instruments and aide in soundcheck made it clear that the men would be backing White this evening. That didn't stop singer Ruby Amanfu from sharing a microphone with White for his first solo single “Love Interruption.” A few White Stripes tracks made an appearance, including a jam-tacular “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” “Seven Nation Army” had the audience howling the main guitar riff, a participation ploy that's been picked up by a lot of ballparks recently (shoutout to the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series!) and somewhat dulls the edge of the music.
Amazingly, that marked the only low point of the set and that's including the idiosyncratic decision on White's part to do a bit of rapping a la Geto Boys' “Mind Playin Tricks On Me.” Even in spittin' ill rhymes, White does it with panache and bluesy swagger. White's set was a well-rounded showcase of just about everything he's been a part of, including The Raconteurs who closed out the Voodoo Experience last year. This set also saw a lot more solos than previous Jack White experiences. He even threw in some surf rock for good measure. That type of versatility is the roux that makes the musical gumbo that is the Voodoo Experience. Though I can't say I ventured into the camping area, by the looks of the festival proper this weekend had been – save for the sound issues between Le Ritual and Le Plur – a rousing success.