It wasn’t quite Halloween yet, but that didn’t stop the crowd in New Orleans’ City Park from getting into the holiday spirit on the final day of Voodoo. The last day of the fest brought out some of the biggest acts of the weekend, and the Toyota Music Den’s Day 3 lineup was no different. And of course it wouldn’t quite be New Orleans without an appearance by the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band who closed things out with expected gusto.
Temperatures were hitting the upper 80s in City Park by the time L.A.-based quartet the Shelters took the stage to open the final day of the Music Den. The boys opened their set with the buoyant “Birdwatching” before getting a little heavier with the blues thump of “Liar.” By the time the Shelters broke out with “Rebel Heart” from their Tom Petty co-produced self-titled debut album, they had the crowd clapping and stomping to the beat. They closed out the set with a killer cover of the Yardbirds’ “Lost Woman” that turned into an all-out jam.
Next up on the Music Den stage was multi-talented songstress Laurel Sprengelmeyer, better know as Little Scream. The Montreal-based artist started things off with the spectral, affecting track “Evan,” a standout cut from her 2016 album Cult Following. (She also brought some firepower to the stage by including Richard Reed Parry of Day 3 headliner Arcade Fire in her backing band for the entire set, even swapping guitars with him when one of her strings broke.) The layered, electric disco of her single “Love As A Weapon” highlighted Sprengelmeyer’s sundry talents as a vocalist as she transitioned between glowing highs and an astoundingly soulful midrange that nobody in the Music Den will soon forget.
Sir the Baptist
It’s Sunday in New Orleans and William James Stokes (a.k.a. Sir the Baptist) took the packed Toyota Music Den to church. The Chicago-born MC blew the roof of the stage with “Creflo Almighty Dollar” before diving into “What We Got,” a song so hopeful and triumphant it could easily be slotted into a book of hymnals for a new generation. Stokes has a preacher’s charisma to him, at home in the revival tent as much as he is playing to a packed house of festival-goers. His optimism — like his fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper — is infectious, and you could feel that buoyant energy flowing through the crowd in every song. By the time he was finished Stokes had everyone raising their arms in hallelujah while he jumped into the crowd giving the fans a straight up spiritual experience, then giving the entire audience his phone number.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
To say the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a New Orleans institution is as wild an understatement as you can make about a city; the group has this city in its DNA. The band shared the stage with Tank and the Bangas, a funky R&B group led by lead singer and poet Tarriona “Tank” Ball’s soul-packed vocals. Tank and the Bangas were handpicked by Preservation Hall as part of a competition supported by Toyota in which three New Orleans acts shot music videos throughout the city in hopes to collaborate with the New Orleans legends. Voodoo-goers eager to see Preservation Hall close out this year’s Toyota Music Den packed the tent beyond capacity and sang along to bayou-flavored renditions of “I Want You Back” and “Sir Duke,” both of which had the whole crowd singing along. There couldn’t have been a better act to close out an exceptional weekend at the Toyota Music Den at Voodoo Fest. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is New Orleans.