Voodoo Experience '09: Must-See Bands

David Atlas
One of the stages at the Voodoo Experience.

This year's Voodoo Experience will be returning to Halloween weekend for its eleventh year. Festival-goers are able to purchase single, three-day, or VIP lounge passes to the event held in New Orleans' City Park. Continuing Voodoo's tradition of diverse lineups, concert-goers will be able to see Eminem and The Flaming Lips perform on the same stage over the course of the weekend without having to give up morning yoga. This year's fest features a new interactive area for its youngest concert-goers with kids under ten receiving free admission. And don't forget to dress up after Kiss's big set for Voodoo's attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of zombies.

There are dozens of bands to choose from over the course of the weekend, but here are seven must-see artists to kick off your scheduling frenzy.

1. EminemEminem
Friday, October 30
9:30 pm, Voodoo Stage

Eminem will be returning to this year's Voodoo Experience after first playing the festival in 2000. Announcing the performance on his Sirius XM radio show "Shady45," the rapper revealed that this would be his only performance of the year while he works on his upcoming album. Festival-goers could have the chance to hear new material from the album due next fall, Eminem's follow-up to this year's "Relapse." On his radio show, the rapper said the new material "is going to be more emotionally driven. On the last record I was concentrated more on just spitting," he said, stating that on "Relapse," he "had to get it all out of my system -- I wanted to prove to myself I can do it again." You just may hear some of it first at Voodoo.

2. WeenWeen
Friday, October 30
9:00pm, Soco/WWOZ Stage

Ween's first Voodoo performance finds them headlining the other main stage at the same time Eminem is across the park. Formed in 1984 in New Hope, Pennsylvania, the lo-fi alt-rock group has become known for their lighthearted wit. Ween's devoted fans and first-timers alike are sure to be won over by the band's catchy, concept driven rock including '90s classics "Voodoo Lady" and "Push Th' Little Daisies" and most recent studio album "La Cucaracha" from 2007.

3. Janelle MonaeJanelle Monae
Friday, October 30
5:00 pm, Voodoo Stage

Festivals present an incredible opportunity to diversify your musical palette, whether you're checking out the latest act to hit the scene or seeing a band that's categorized in a genre missing from your iPod. If you haven't heard of her yet, and even if you have, Janelle Monae just might be the act you're talking most about when you leave this year's festival. Following the release of her debut "Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase," the soulful alt-R&B singer has been nominated for a Grammy, honored by Black Girl's Rock, and signed to Diddy's Bad Boy label. Her debut concept album follows the fictional Cindi Mayweather as she searches for love in the year 2719.

4. KissKiss
Saturday, October 31
9:00pm, Voodoo Stage

Whether you're a newbie who's only heard "I Wanna Rock & Roll All Nite" a few times on the radio and are a bit freaked out by the makeup or you're a veteran member of the Kiss Army, there's something perfectly fitting about seeing the veteran rockers - makeup, spandex and all - on Haloween night in New Orleans. Platform boots and pyrotechnics will be among Kiss's onstage spectacle as they perform from their arsenal of classic hits as well as tracks from brand new album, "Sonic Boom," which topped Billboard's Rock Albums, Hard Rock Albums, Independent Albums charts earlier this month and earned a No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

5. Drive-By TruckersDrive-By Truckers
Saturday, October 31
6:30pm Soco/WWOZ Stage

Festival favorites Drive-By Truckers will be returning to Voodoo following their 2006 performance. The band is known for their energetic alt country-rock mixed with cerebral, affecting lyrics sung by frontman Patterson Hood. When Jason Isbell left the band in 2007, pedal steel guitarist John Neff was added to the lineup and Drive-By Truckers continued releasing well-received albums like 2008's "Brighter than Creation's Dark." The band is in fine form this year too. They've spent 2009 backing soulman Booker T. Jones -- they're the band on Booker's acclaimed April album "Potato Hole," and frontman Hood also showcased his solo chops, releasing his own album "Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)" in June. The hardworking band -- they tend to tour almost non-stop -- brings it all together in an early evening slot on Halloween night.

6. Black LipsBlack Lips
Saturday, October 31
12:50 pm, PlayStation/Billboard.com Stage

At this summer's Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, Black Lips guitarist Ian Saint Pe whipped the crowd into a frenzy, reasoning that security has the upper hand if one moshing fan jumps the stage but will not if the whole crowd participates. The crowd did indeed surge forward. By the time the band left the stage, the also left behind a field strewn with cell phones and plastic glasses, and more than a few irritated security guards. But the throng of sweaty, electrified fans was testament that the music had definitely moved them. In addition to, Voodoo-goers can look forward to the band's raw psychedelic garage rock, including tracks from recent album "200 Million Thousand," as well as fearless stage antics.

7. The Flaming LipsThe Flaming Lips
Sunday, November 1
5:45 PlayStation/Billboard.com Stage

Nothing quite compares to seeing a live performance by The Flaming Lips. Closer to a multimedia Merry Pranksters acid test than a plain old rambunctious rock show, don't be surprised if seeing them makes you experience some sort of secular awakening, or at least some moving sing-alongs underneath a heavy rain of bright confetti. Led by the ever passionate Wayne Coyne, a Flaming Lips' live show will turn the most bizarre lines about taking vitamins to defeat evil machines into poignant collective moments. And if you're lucky, Coyne will roll out among the crowd again in his giant plastic ball just like he did at 2006's Voodoo. The Flaming Lips just this month debuted hit No. 2 on Billboard's Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts with new album "Embyronic," their twelfth studio album following 2006's "At War With The Mystics," so you can bet you'll hear some of the new material.